Last time Oilers went to Stanley Cup Final: Connor McDavid’s age, Coach Wayne Gretzky, and more to know about 2006

No Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup Final since 1993, but a few have come within a few wins of snapping the drought over the last three decades. The Oilers are about to take their shot.

The Canadiens played for the Cup in 2021, becoming the first Canadian team to reach the Stanley Cup Final since the Canucks came one win away in 2011. The Senators had a chance in 2007 but lost in five games to the Ducks.

One of Canada’s best opportunities to get on the board over the past three decades actually came when the Oilers reached the Stanley Cup Final — well before Connor McDavid was in Edmonton’s sights and at a time when the NHL looked much different than it does today.

Here’s a look back at the Oilers’ last Stanley Cup Final appearance before 2024.

MORE: Predictions, odds for 2024 Stanley Cup Final

When was the last time the Oilers went to the Stanley Cup Final?

The Oilers last reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2006, when they came within one win of a championship before losing to the Hurricanes.

Just like this season, Edmonton didn’t win its division in 2005-06. In fact, the Oilers only narrowly made the playoffs with 95 points. That got them a matchup with the 58-win Red Wings, but they managed to upset Detroit in six games.

The Oilers knocked out the Sharks and Mighty Ducks on their way to the Stanley Cup Final, but nothing played out quite as smoothly against Carolina. The Oilers quickly dropped the first two games of the series, with Rod Brind’Amour scoring a late game-winner for the Hurricanes in Game 1. That gave way to a 5-0 rout by Carolina in Game 2.

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Edmonton ultimately trailed 3-1 after Game 4 but kept its season alive with an overtime win in Game 5 and a shutout in Game 6. That was all the Oilers had in the tank. The Hurricanes prevailed in Game 7, ensuring Canada’s Cup drought would last at least another year. 

What was different about 2006? Everything. Connor McDavid was just 9, Sidney Crosby was a rookie with the Penguins, and the iPhone hadn’t yet been released.

Wayne Gretzky, just seven years removed from his playing career, was in year one as head coach of the Coyotes. The NHL as a whole was reeling and hoping to rebuild momentum and goodwill after the 2004-05 season was canceled due to a lockout. That made the 2006 Stanley Cup Final the first in two years.

Ratings suffered, as the first two games of the series were watched by fewer than one million people in the U.S., though the Oilers hailing from Canada was at least a small factor. The same trend would occur the following year when the Senators faced the Ducks, but no Stanley Cup Final game since has dipped under one million viewers.

MORE: Breaking down Connor McDavid’s playoff history

The jury will be out on television ratings until this year’s Stanley Cup Final is complete, but the series certainly has the potential to be thoroughly entertaining. Between the duo of McDavid and Draisaitl making their first appearance and a loaded Panthers squad looking to complete the mission they couldn’t a year ago, these two high-flying offenses can make the series a thriller.

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Oilers 2006 roster

Here’s a look at the points leaders from the 2005-06 Oilers:

Player Points Position
Ales Hemsky 77 RW
Shawn Horcoff 73 LW
Jarret Stoll 68 C
Ryan Smyth 66 LW
Chris Pronger 56 D
Raffi Torres 41 LW
Fernando Pisani 37 C
Marc-Andre Bergeron 35 D
Radek Dvorak 28 RW
Steve Staios 28 D
Ethan Moreau 27 LW
Marty Reasoner 26 C
Michael Peca 23 C
Jaroslav Spacek 19 D
Jason Smith 17 D
Sergei Samsonov 16 LW
Georges Laraque 12 RW

The Oilers also saw four different goaltenders start games during the 2005-06 season:

Goaltender W-L Save pct. GAA
Jussi Markkanen 15-12-6 .880 3.13
Mark Morrison 10-4-2 .884 2.83
Ty Conklin 8-5-1 .880 2.80
Dwayne Roloson 8-7-4 .905 2.43

Oilers Stanley Cup Final appearances

The Oilers are making their eighth Stanley Cup Final appearance in franchise history. Here’s a complete list of each time they played for the Cup:

Year Opponent Result
1983 Islanders Loss
1984 Islanders Win
1985 Flyers Win
1987 Flyers Win
1988 Bruins Win
1990 Bruins Win
2006 Hurricanes Loss
2024 Panthers TBD

The Oilers won their first Stanley Cup in 1984, ending the Islanders’ bid for a fifth consecutive championship. That was only the beginning of a dynasty, as Edmonton reached the Stanley Cup Final four more times in the next six seasons. All ended in a championship.

It’s been a more challenging 34 years for the Oilers since 1990, with 2006 being their only Stanley Cup Final appearance between their last title and this year’s berth. The Oilers can make it six Stanley Cup championships with a series win over the Panthers.

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