The Edmonton Oilers are facing a ton of criticism from their fan base this season and one veteran reporter may have just pulled gasoline onto an already raging fire.
Sportsnet's National Hockey League insider Mark Spector has always kept a close watch on the Edmonton Oilers franchise especially and like all of us he has undoubtedly noticed the extremely high volume of ice time that has been consumed by Edmonton Oilers superstar forward Connor McDavid this season. The Oilers have put McDavid out for an average of nearly 23 minutes per game this season and when you consider the relatively poor results they have produced in the process there have been some real questions about just how McDavid has been used under the Oilers management.
Spector wanted some answers in this regard and in order to get answers you have to ask the right questions. Spector wondered whether or not the current use of both McDavid and fellow teammate, and fellow Oilers forward, Leon Draisaitl was being pushed to the point where it was unhealthy for either player. Now there's no question that both men can handle the work load in the short term, but Spector was more concerned about what it would or could mean for the long term careers of both players.
To find his answers Spector spoke with athlete development coach Les Gramantik and there was very little doubt in the tone of his comments that he feels the Oilers are going to pay the price for their current use of these players. Gramantik effectively described the Oilers use of the two young men as a short term gain in exchange for long term pain.
"I think you're mortgaging your future on the current result," said Gramantik. "The results, in my opinion, would be the same if McDavid played four or five minutes less, because of the (benefits of) recovery."
"If they continue to push this, (in their later 20's) neither McDavid nor Draisaitl will be as effective as they are now. Just my opinion."
When you consider how important of a player McDavid will be to the long term success of the Oilers franchise this comes off as a rather damning condemnation of the organization. Fans have already been furious with the team for failing to build a quality roster around McDavid and they will be even more furious if they feel they are wasting and potentially even damaging their star player.