The Edmonton Oilers were eliminated from playoff contention on Monday, marking the second straight year they've missed the postseason. Connor McDavid has been on both of those teams and is again missing out on a change at the Stanley Cup after the Oilers went went 47-26-9 in his second NHL season.
McDavid appears to be getting a bit frustrated with that trend. He spoke to media after Monday's loss to the Vegas Golden Knights and did not mince words when asked if the team could carry some momentum into next season since they've been "clicking as a team."
"I don't know," McDavid replied. "Maybe, we'll see. Doesn't really matter."
On missing the playoffs, McDavid was also blunt.
"Yeah it sucks obviously," he said. "It's not good enough, all year. We let streaks drag on, let times where we couldn't find ways to get wins drag on, you got to find a way to stop the bleeding quick. It's a slim margin of error in this league. There's a lot of teams that are right there, we did our best to stay in the fight, just a little too late."
He went on to describe the season as "a roller coaster" and noted the amount of changes the Oilers went through.
"It's been an insane season," McDavid said. "Coaching change, GM change. Good times and bad times -- it's been a roller coaster. It's been emotionally challenging, it's been hard mentally to kinda keep on going. But we were always kinda right there, we were close and then we'd drift away -- that's how it goes."
McDavid added that his frustration level is "really high" on missing the playoffs again.
If nothing else, McDavid's comments should serve as a warning for Oilers management. He had a career-high 115 points this season, yet the Oilers have just 77 points, showing next to no improvement from last year's 78 points. The Oilers have failed to build a team around McDavid, and the addition of Ken Hitchcock with Todd McLellan's firing hasn't created any real improvement. Keith Gretzky is currently the team's interim GM as the Oilers fired Peter Chiarelli in January.
Chiarelli made some truly ridiculous moves on his way out, including a mind-boggling three-year extension for goalie Mikko Koskinen and trading Ryan Strome -- which was a fine move in a vacuum but his incredible run in New York has shown a deeper problem in Edmonton. Strome has 17 goals in 60 games with the Rangers after scoring just one with the Oilers in 18 games.
The organization has coasted because they have a generational talent, but frustration, as McDavid said, has peaked this year. Leon Draisaitl is the only person around to help McDavid and people have taken notice. Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson has repeatedly backed the construction of the team itself, but it hasn't translated to wins.
McDavid has won the last two Art Ross trophies and would probably be in line for a third if Nikita Kucherov wasn't having the season he is. McDavid is locked in with the Oilers until 2026, so he's not leaving any time soon. But as we've seen in other sports, players don't have to wait for their contracts to expire to make life hard for their front office if they're that unhappy with how things are going.