Gretzky: Leafs, Oilers much closer to winning Stanley Cup than people think
The Great One's high praise for the clubs doesn't entirely relate to their on-ice performances, but what he's able to see from the groups off the ice and how they're interacting with one another.
"I went for lunch with Leon Draisaitl, Connor (McDavid), and Darnell Nurse and it reminded me so much of me, Kevin Lowe, Mark Messier, and Paul Coffey having lunch together," Gretzky said Wednesday on Sportsnet 590 The Fan's "Real Kyper and Bourne show." "That they were teasing each other; Leon was disappointed that Connor's passes weren't as good as he thought they should be. And you know what? That's what makes teams successful. That they can tease each other and be on the same page and that ultimately they want to win a championship."
Edmonton's McDavid and Draisaitl are two of the best hockey players in the NHL, while the Maple Leafs boast a stacked group highlighted by Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander.
Despite all the star power and dominating the regular season, neither team has been able to achieve any success in the playoffs. Since the 2015-16 season, the Oilers have won one playoff round while the Leafs haven't been victorious at all.
"I remember I left lunch and I said to my wife, 'You know what? This team is so much closer to winning than people understand because these guys are so close and they want to win so badly for each other and I love that,'" Gretzky said. "To me, that's even better when in the locker room these guys are all on the same page. And I feel watching the Leafs play that they have that same camaraderie. It's us, and we're together, and we don't care who scores."
After finishing as the top two teams in the North Division last year, the Maple Leafs currently sit in second place in the Atlantic Division while the Oilers are in second in the Pacific Division. The Oilers haven't won the Cup since 1990; the Leafs are searching for their first ring since 1967.