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Edmonton Oilers reflect on newfound success in 2016-17: ‘The team is for real now’

WATCH ABOVE: Mark Letestu said next year, the Stanley Cup is the goal. Plus, hear from Milan Lucic and Zack Kassian.

The Edmonton Oilers cleaned out their lockers Friday after a spectacular turnaround season, knowing that their newfound success changes everything.

“Coming in next year, it has to be a different mindset,” said Oilers captain Connor McDavid.

“We’re not going to surprise any teams anymore. Teams know we’re a good hockey team and they’ll have to be ready to play.”

READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers gush success in 2016-17 and hope it fuels future boom

Forward Patrick Maroon was more succinct.

“The team is for real now,” he said. “Everyone knows the Edmonton Oilers are no joke anymore.”

Watch below: Connor McDavid and cam Talbot reflect on the season. McDavid said expectations will change and Talbot said a lot of strides were taken this season. 

Click to play video: 'Connor McDavid, Cam Talbot reflect on Edmonton Oilers season: ‘We really raised the bar’' Connor McDavid, Cam Talbot reflect on Edmonton Oilers season: ‘We really raised the bar’
Connor McDavid, Cam Talbot reflect on Edmonton Oilers season: ‘We really raised the bar’ – May 12, 2017

After 10 consecutive seasons of unrelenting mediocrity, and no playoff appearances, the Oilers established themselves this season as one of the NHL’s top tier franchises, finishing tied for seventh overall in the regular season and ending up one win shy of a final-four appearance in the playoffs.

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READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers make playoffs for 1st time since 2006: What’s changed in the last 11 years?

They will be the favourites to win the Pacific Division next year, with McDavid and Leon Draisaitl down the middle, shutdown defencemen Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson on the blue line and Cam Talbot in net.

McDavid, whose rookie year was cut short by a broken clavicle, had a breakout season in 2016-17. He won the points title, scoring 30 goals and collecting 100 points, and is the frontrunner for the Hart Memorial Trophy as league MVP.

READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid nominated for NHL’s Hart Trophy

He didn’t shine as brightly in the playoffs. He scored five goals and had nine points in 13 games, although the tight checking he faced opened up space and opportunities for other forwards like Draisaitl.

McDavid had to get used to a shadow like Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler following him around the ice, harassing and knocking him off his game.

“It’s tough when you’re not getting space,” said McDavid. “A guy like me needs time and needs to get the puck and come through the middle with speed, and obviously if they’re taking that away it makes your job pretty tough.”

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What about when people tell you that you should shoot more? McDavid was asked.

“I want to do what’s best and if I see someone’s open, I’m going to give him the puck.”

READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers fans come to terms with playoff elimination: ‘We’ll get it next year’

The off-season will see general manager Peter Chiarelli address issues to get the Oilers to the next level, starting perhaps with his second line of Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Milan Lucic.

The veterans scored a combined 61 goals in the regular season but just two in the playoffs, both by Lucic on the power play.

Watch below: The Oilers clean out their lockers, Cam Talbot talks about being on dad duty and Zack Kassian talks about losing the chops. 

Click to play video: 'Edmonton Oilers reflect on 2016/17 season, look forward to next year' Edmonton Oilers reflect on 2016/17 season, look forward to next year
Edmonton Oilers reflect on 2016/17 season, look forward to next year – May 12, 2017

Eberle was exposed more than a few times in the post-season: playing on the perimeter, coughing up the puck to avoid contact, being the last forward to get back to the defensive zone.

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In recent days Eberle has been the pinata for fans and commentators on Edmonton sports radio call in shows. Critics want him traded, even if it means the Oilers eating some of his US$6 million salary, or leaving him exposed to be picked by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.

Eberle said he has become a better two-way player but it was difficult to not score in the playoffs.

“That’s the one that really stings,” he said. “You take this long to get to the playoffs and (then) you don’t perform and play to your standards,” he said.

Watch below: Jordan Eberle was criticized for not producing during the Edmonton Oilers’ post-season. He comments on playing in his first NHL playoffs and whether he wants to be back with the team next season.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton Oilers’ Jordan Eberle reflects on first NHL playoffs' Edmonton Oilers’ Jordan Eberle reflects on first NHL playoffs
Edmonton Oilers’ Jordan Eberle reflects on first NHL playoffs – May 12, 2017

Head coach Todd McLellan said don’t judge Eberle by the small sample size of a baker’s dozen playoff games.

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“He’s a tremendous player. He scores 20 to 25 goals every season. You can count on it,” said McLellan.

“He didn’t quite get it done (in the playoffs) but he’s a very important asset for our team.”

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Edmonton Oilers' goalie Cam Talbot (33) speaks to media in Edmonton, Alta., on Friday May 12, 2017. The Oilers lost game 7 to the Anaheim Ducks in the second round of the NHL playoffs. Jason Franson, The Canadian Press
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Edmonton Oilers' Patrick Maroon (19) speaks to media in Edmonton, Alta., on Friday May 12, 2017. The Oilers lost game 7 to the Anaheim Ducks in the second round of the NHL playoffs. Jason Franson, The Canadian Press
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Edmonton Oilers' Patrick Maroon (19) speaks to media in Edmonton, Alta., on Friday May 12, 2017. The Oilers lost game 7 to the Anaheim Ducks in the second round of the NHL playoffs. Jason Franson, The Canadian Press
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Edmonton Oilers' Oscar Klefbom speaks to media in Edmonton, Alta., on Friday May 12, 2017. The Oilers lost game 7 to the Anaheim Ducks in the second round of the NHL playoffs. Jason Franson, The Canadian Press
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Edmonton Oilers' Milan Lucic speaks to media in Edmonton, Alta., on Friday May 12, 2017. The Oilers lost game 7 to the Anaheim Ducks in the second round of the NHL playoffs. Jason Franson, The Canadian Press
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Edmonton Oilers' Jordan Eberle speaks to media in Edmonton, Alta., on Friday May 12, 2017. The Oilers lost game 7 to the Anaheim Ducks in the second round of the NHL playoffs. Jason Franson, The Canadian Press
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Edmonton Oilers' Zack Kassian speaks to media in Edmonton, Alta., on Friday May 12, 2017. The Oilers lost game 7 to the Anaheim Ducks in the second round of the NHL playoffs. Jason Franson, The Canadian Press

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