All Summer Long

In the days before Ken Holland, I outlined five important areas that needed to be addressed. At the time I assumed Keith Gretzky would take over a GM, and the order of the priorities was mine: Two scoring wingers, cap room, No. 3 center, top-4 RHD who can move the puck, and a backup goaltender.

We are approaching the end of the busy period of the 2019 offseason. Not all the work is done, hell many Oilers fans are waiting for a Milan Lucic-James Neal trade at this hour, a trade that may never come. Assuming he is done: How did Ken Holland do this summer?

THE ATHLETIC!

The Athletic Edmonton features a fabulous cluster of stories (some linked below, some on the site). Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. Proud to be part of the group, here’s an incredible Offer!

  • New Jonathan Willis: Josh Archibald won’t fix the Oilers’ biggest problems, but he’ll help with some key issues.
  • New Lowetide: Is there anyone left in free agency who can help the Oilers?
  • Lowetide: Will the 2019-20 Bakersfield Condors be the Oilers’ best minor-league team ever?
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: The Oilers have a new amateur scouting director. What can we learn from Tyler Wright’s track record at the draft?
  • Lowetide: The Oilers are finally recovering from the wayward 2014 Draft
  • Lowetide: Projecting Darnell Nurse’s next contract and possible trades
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: A missing mom, aching feet and looking for Kevin Lowe: A week in the life of Oilers prospect Raphael Lavoie
  • Lowetide: What to do when Connor McDavid rests: The Oilers’ ideal No. 2 line for 2019-20
  • Lowetide: Adding a scorer will be Ken Holland’s first big move as Oilers GM
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: What the Oilers’ depth chart looks like now and where they go from here
  • Jonathan Willis: How often do goalies like the Oilers’ Mike Smith rebound?
  • Lowetide: Ken Holland’s roster moves clear the way for Oilers top prospects Tyler Benson and Kailer Yamamoto.
  • Jonathan Willis: Oilers GM Ken Holland promises long-term rewards for an approach light on short-term improvements
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Trade market now most likely place for Oilers to find scoring winger
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘He comes as advertised’: Philip Broberg’s skating makes him development camp standout for Oilers
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers plan to skew younger on defence could open the door for Evan Bouchard, Dmitri Samorukov
  • Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects summer 2019.
  • Lowetide: Are these Jesse Puljujarvi’s final days with the Edmonton Oilers?
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ranking the Oilers’ trade assets from the high-priced diamonds to those needing fresh starts
  • Lowetide: Oilers GM Ken Holland is shopping for 20-goal scorers on a budget. What will he find?

Two Scoring Wingers

My preference was Brett Connolly, and he went for a reasonable dollar but the term (four years) was dear. Holland’s two big scoring additions were Alex Chiasson (22 goals) and Joakim Nygard (21 goals in 52 SHL games for Farjestad BK).

I think it’s fair to say Holland fell shy in this area. If he had signed Connolly, or dealt for James Neal, we could have argued reasonably that Holland addressed a major need. Even Neal & Chiasson would have received a passing grade from me. Holland had limited resources, so I don’t think you can set his summer on fire for the moves made, but it’s short of the goal. Holland may be factoring in Tyler Benson as an option and that’s (imo) reasonable.

Cap Room

Sekera buyout was a start but there’s miles to go. If Holland doesn’t use the cap dollars from Sekera that’s an unforced error. I would have given him a gold star if Holland had found a way out from under the Lucic contract.

No. 3 Centre

His acquisitions who could fill this role are Markus Granlund and Gaetan Haas. Haas is a complete wildcard, Granlund is more effective on the wing.

Top 4 RHD

Joel Persson was signed by Peter Chiarelli, Evan Bouchard and Ethan Bear drafted by Bob Green. Incomplete. I do like the possibility of Kris Russell moving to LH side on third pair, but assuming that will happen is a leap of faith.

Backup Goalie

Mike Smith was the choice, it seemed destined once Dave Tippett was hired as coach. The math on this is poor, it’s a ‘gut feel’ acquisition and this is a math blog so there’s no defense the author will offer.

Can the system save the season?

Edmonton has enormous riches at the top, with McDavid, Draisaitl and Nuge a good bet to score over over 100 goals (119 one year ago). The 2017-18 team received 90 goals from that trio and another 107 goals from the rest of the forward crew. Last season’s forwards (outside the top three) scored 80, and that includes 22 from Alex Chiasson and 15 from Zack Kassian.

Scoring wingers (Benson, Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Puljujarvi, Marody) could help, maybe one of the kid blue spikes in a big way. Maybe Ryan McLeod emerges as the No. 3 centre, and Shane Starrett finds Rod Serling and buys x-ray eyes.

Maybe the Oilers trade Lucic for Neal and the trade snaps the chain back into place. I still think Tippett was the biggest acquisition of the offseason. Holland’s other bets, the player bets, appear conservative and uninspired. He didn’t have a lot of room to wheel, and Connolly, as good as he is, can’t be heralded as a modern Hossa.

OILERS 50-MAN (50)

The Oilers have two slides, taking the roster to 48, and Jesse Puljujarvi, who regular readers will know is sitting in limbo with Jimmy Cliff. I’ve included Puljujarvi as usual, he comes off the 50-man the moment he signs in Europe or is traded.

What would I add to this group? A 20-goal winger and a 22-year old Evan Bouchard, plus a goalie now that Michael Parkatti is writing again.

JOSH ARCHIBALD

An intelligent signing. Archibald can help on the PK, scores well based on linemates and usage, and comes at a fair price. It’s important to value this player, even as he doesn’t address the team’s needs (No. 3 center and scoring winger). A contract signing of this kind brings roster clarity, and it’s more likely we see a Jesse Puljujarvi deal (imo) now that the RW depth chart is set. I see it as Kassian-Chiasson-Archibald-Gagner, your mileage may vary.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

A fun show today, TSN1260, beginning at 10 this morning. Bruce McCurdy will be by from The Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal to talk Archibald, Apollo 11 and other world events. Kris Abbott from OddsShark will pop in to talk about in-game betting the impact of a classic match like the men’s final at Wimbledon. Finally, Mark Zecchino will join us from Golf Talk Canada about The Open. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!

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217 Responses to "All Summer Long"

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  1. ArmchairGM says:

    OriginalPouzar: Yes, the moves he did make were underwhelming – recall the general consensus (not unanimous) that an underwhelming July 1 was likely the smartest way forward.

    Safe I can get behind, quiet I can understand. But underwhelming is never a positive outcome. The team needs to move forward and there was no forward movement this summer.

    OriginalPouzar: There were some reasonable suggestions – the (your) Connolly suggestion was indeed reasonable and we do know that Holland was in fact in on that player. Would you have been willing to give more term and/or hit to get him to Edmonton? I know your research shows he should be able to produce at as a top 6 player but, of course, he’s yet to establish himself in that role and the numbers don’t always win out.

    I stated at the time that I would be willing to go up to $4M x 4 years. I believe Connolly would have been full value for that contract in Edmonton. And the signing would have been in place of Chiasson, so it’s not a $4M cap hit on top of what Holland has now.

    OriginalPouzar:Don’t get me wrong, he would have made the team better this year but, as I’ve been stating, at the same time that’s $4M (give or take) not available next year to acquire a more substantial player.Connolly is not a slam dunk established top 6 player – the bet would have been reasonable but it would have been a marginal signing that worked to preclude a more substantial signing in the next few years where they’ll be better set up to take advantage of the market and cash strapped teams.

    It’s building blocks. Under Holland, the team appears to headed for a lottery finish. What makes you think any marquee UFA will be heading to Edmonton next summer? And do you really want to pay top dollar and term to one of the big name UFA’s anyway? There are several players available next summer that might be a better fit than Connolly, but they’re all aging and will want a retirement contract. Backstrom, Hall, Granlund, Hoffman, Kreider and Dadonov, for instance. And if any of these would take say $7M AAV we could fit them in anyhow, as long as the bottom-6 guys all make around $1M (which is normal).

  2. ArmchairGM says:

    jp: Now, I don’t think Chiasson will be a regular 22 goal scorer, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised at 15-20 goals (I guess I’m expecting that actually).

    Holland is making that bet too. I’m not convinced that its a smart one: six years in the league and only one season with over 13 goals. That spells anomaly, IMO.

  3. ArmchairGM says:

    who: You are wasting your breath.Doesn’t seem like Armchair GM can grasp the whole cap space thing.

    Wow.

  4. ArmchairGM says:

    OriginalPouzar: Is your position not “if Holland didn’t sign so many $1M bottom six players, they would have room for a $5M winger”?I believe those are essentially your exact words, no?

    No, they are not.

  5. OriginalPouzar says:

    ArmchairGM: Holland is making that bet too. I’m not convinced that its a smart one: six years in the league and only one season with over 13 goals. That spells anomaly, IMO.

    Brett Connolly: 8 years in the league, only one season with more than 27 points……

  6. Cassandra says:

    OriginalPouzar: How is Chiasson a top line winger when he scored 0.75 G/60 and 1.25P/60 and his top 3 linemates were Drai, McDavid and Nuge?

    In Ricki’s parsing of the data it doesn’t matter what the guy does away from top line talent, it only matters what he does with them.

    Also, in Ricki’s parsing of the data you have to compare LW to LW, C to C, and RW to RW. Which means that the line for 1st line is 8evg for wingers. Now, the dividing line for centers is 13 evg because it is “easier” for centers to score. Now, we both know this makes no sense and corresponds to hockey in no way, but this is a fact based analysis so you can’t disagree with it without being a social justice warrior.

  7. JimmyV1965 says:

    ArmchairGM: Safe I can get behind, quiet I can understand. But underwhelming is never a positive outcome. The team needs to move forward and there was no forward movement this summer.

    I stated at the time that I would be willing to go up to $4M x 4 years. I believe Connolly would have been full value for that contract in Edmonton. And the signing would have been in place of Chiasson, so it’s not a $4M cap hit on top of what Holland has now.

    It’s building blocks. Under Holland, the team appears to headed for a lottery finish. What makes you think any marquee UFA will be heading to Edmonton next summer? And do you really want to pay top dollar and term to one of the big name UFA’s anyway? There are several players available next summer that might be a better fit than Connolly, but they’re all aging and will want a retirement contract. Backstrom, Hall, Granlund,Hoffman, Kreider and Dadonov, for instance. And if any of these would take say $7M AAV we could fit them in anyhow, as long as the bottom-6 guys all make around $1M (which is normal).

    It’s fine to be disappointed with Holland, but you make it sound like we had an opportunity to sign Connolly for four years. That simply wasn’t the case. That, or you were hoping the GM started the negotiations with an overpayment.

  8. JimmyV1965 says:

    I’m on the record as being disappointed with Holland SO FAR. I think I have a pretty decent, balanced opinion here. The difference between Chia and Holland is that Chia always gets his man – usually with an overpayment. If Chia were GM, Connolly would likely be an Oiler today, at $5 mill and four years. Maybe even five or six years.

  9. russ99 says:

    I’m not a fan of the Chiasson signing, since it’s doubtful he’ll score as many as last year, even if zoomed on PP1, but you have to look at market conditions in UFA.

    He wasn’t going to take a discount as a UFA and Holland reading the market saw that comparable or better Day 1-3 UFA players were signing for twice as much in more competitive warm weather lower tax markets, so he had to get some goals.

    Not optimal but better than Chia overpaying drastically, throwing in an NMC then expecting first rounders to step in and make up the difference.

    With Holland’s preference to add in FA, I suspect this changes when we have more cap flexibility.

  10. Lowetide says:

    For The Athletic: New coach, a blossoming farm team, some electric juniors turning pro and six free agent forwards. Looking ahead to Oilers training camp: 35 players for 23 jobs.

    https://theathletic.com/1080224/2019/07/18/looking-ahead-to-oilers-training-camp-35-players-for-23-jobs/

  11. London Jon says:

    I would be happy to see Lucic for Neal.

    What do we think gets that done?

    Retain, say, 750k on Lucic?
    Add a 2021 3rd?

    What would you do it for if you were GM?

  12. OriginalPouzar says:

    Lucic for Neal is such a win for Calgary that I can’t imagine Treliving pulling that trigger unless there is a material material sweetener or serious retainmnet.

    Yup, Jeal was pretty much as bad as Lucic was last year (well, offensively at least, I don’t know if Neal showed a complete inability to take a pass at the blueline from a d-man, pivot and move the puck up ice).

    With that said, Neal fell off the cliff for one year whereas Lucic has been 4th line/replacement level at 5 on 5 for three straight years now. I would think that leads to a greater chance of a Neal bounce-back than a Lucic.

    Then we get to the contracts and (1) Neal’s contract does not have any trade protection (the lack of a NMC takes away all expansion draft protection risk)_ and (2) Neal’s contract has zero signing bonuses so the buyout structure is normal – buyouts still suck but at least its not “buyout proof”.

  13. ArmchairGM says:

    OriginalPouzar: Brett Connolly: 8 years in the league, only one season with more than 27 points……

    6 seasons, not counting the cups of coffee. And 22, 15 and 15 goals in the past three… 52 goals, and just 6 of them on the PP. He’s a much better bet for top-6 and scoring 15-20 than Chiasson is.

  14. ArmchairGM says:

    JimmyV1965: It’s fine to be disappointed with Holland, but you make it sound like we had an opportunity to sign Connolly for four years. That simply wasn’t the case. That, or you were hoping the GM started the negotiations with an overpayment.

    We have no idea where he started and where he ended, or whether he even offered a contract. We simply don’t know… Dzingel, too. But the fact remains that Holland is being paid $5M to improve the team incrementally into a Cup contender, and his first offseason has the team apparently going backwards. Not good.

  15. ArmchairGM says:

    JimmyV1965:
    I’m on the record as being disappointed with Holland SO FAR. I think I have a pretty decent, balanced opinion here.The difference between Chia and Holland is that Chia always gets his man – usually with an overpayment. If Chia were GM, Connolly would likely be an Oiler today, at $5 mill and four years. Maybe even five or six years.

    Nobody here is pining for Chia, we want competent management who will improve the roster. We haven’t seen that yet. All we have seen is a bunch of high-risk, low-reward bets.

  16. OriginalPouzar says:

    ArmchairGM: 6 seasons, not counting the cups of coffee. And 22, 15 and 15 goals in the past three… 52 goals, and just 6 of them on the PP. He’s a much better bet for top-6 and scoring 15-20 than Chiasson is.

    You used the fact that Chiasson has only had one plus goal scoring season out of 6 as an argument against him, however, at the same time, the fact that Connolly has had one season out of 8 with over 27 points isn’t a valid point when discussing his top 6 abilities? Really?

    He’s had one season with over 27 points – he started in the league 8 years ago.

  17. CallighenMan says:

    Harpers Hair: He missed 12 games last season.
    Meh.

    what is meh is your f’ing multiple personality disorder. Take it back to the island troll.

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