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 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.
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.
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.
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!