Leon Draisaitl (left) and Connor McDavid (right) at the season-ending press conference of Edmonton Oilers, Tuesday.
The disappointment was clear as the Oilers picked up their belongings on Tuesday, two days after their elimination from the National Hockey League (NHL) playoffs.
However, there are also optimism that the team is on the verge of having what it takes to win the Stanley Cup. It's the cup or nothing for us, Oilers captain Connor McDavid said. Considering where each is at in their career, this is what is expected.
We are all here to win, added Leon Draisaitl. [The outcome this year] is disappointing, but we'll talk about it among ourselves. We need to use that in a positive way and come back next season and make the changes we need to make. It's the cut, or nothing, it's how we feel.
Despite the earlier elimination, Connor McDavid believes the team is stronger now than it was a year ago. Maybe it's hard to see today, but there has been progress. I would say that we are a better team than last year, he underlines.
Everyone in the group has a long-term contract. Everyone is in the midst of their best years.
Forward Zach Hyman argued there are positives to take away. Especially in the second half of the season, I think we had the best record in the league. We've won 14 of our last 15 games, and the other one was lost in extra time. The majority of our core is going to be back. There is a possibility of going all the way, he believes.
Defender Mattias Ekholm mentioned that adjustments can be made, but that the Oilers are already blessed with a lot of talent. A good defensive structure is something you work on and improve as a team. But to find the two best players in the world, you don't just turn around the corner and find them. We have them, he says.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the league's first and second regular season scorers, said they are determined to win together in Edmonton .
Leon and I have been here our entire career and have been through some bad years and disappointments, said Connor McDavid. But when I look at the culture in place and where the organization is at, I take great pride in that.