Ken Holland doesn’t have all of his cannons loaded for the 2020 offseason. The prospect pipeline needs attention and he doesn’t have much cap room to wheel. Still, there are expectations of improvement, from ownership to the captain to the world’s most loyal fans. Holland, who is aware it’s a marathon and not a sprint, will want to improve the team and give fans a reason to care. What will he do?
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here is our recent work.
- New Lowetide: Ken Holland’s work week: Get good players, keep good players
- Lowetide: Who will be available if the Oilers pick at No. 14?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ defence prospects are pushing, and changes are coming
- Lowetide: A reasonable trade price for the Oilers to pay in pursuit of OEL
- Jonathan Willis: Could it make sense for the Oilers to trade Oscar Klefbom?
- Lowetide: Why Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl won the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Breaking down my ballot for the 2019-20 NHL awards
- Lowetide: Rising talent, acquiring picks key to Oilers’ success at draft
- Lowetide: European leagues are open, and Oilers prospects are everywhere
- Lowetide: Ken Holland and Dave Tippett’s past players: Can any help the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Roster projections for Oilers, including trade and free agent targets
- Jonathan Willis: Why the Oilers should buy out James Neal
- Lowetide: Oilers approach 2020 draft with increased depth in important positions
- Lowetide: Stock Watch: Hot starts and safe landings for Oilers prospects
- Jonathan Willis: There are no good shortcuts for the Oilers with Jesse Puljujarvi
- Lowetide: Potential trades and partners for the Oilers’ offseason
- Lowetide: The Oilers could find a world-class agitator in the draft
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Should the Oilers select goalie Yaroslav Askarov 14th at the NHL Draft?
- Lowetide: A bold draft strategy for the Oilers in 2020
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers third-line centre search should include other teams’ cap casualties
- Lowetide: Dealing a defenceman? Taking stock of Oilers’ blueline assets
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A: Oilers GM Ken Holland on improving internally, the flat cap and goaltending
- Jonathan Willis: Can the Oilers find value picks among the 2020 NHL Draft’s impressive Russians?
- Lowetide: 10 free agent targets for the Oilers this offseason
- Lowetide: What if the Oilers went scorched earth in front of 2020 free agency?
- Lowetide: Oilers Top 20 Prospects, Summer 2020
- Jonathan Willis: Unqualified RFAs could be top offseason targets for the Oilers
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Who stays? Who goes? The most likely players to stay with and leave the Oilers
OILERS 50-MAN LIST
Goalies (4): Mikko Koskinen, Stuart Skinner, Dylan Wells, Olivier Rodrigue. Koskinen is part of the solution, not part of the problem. Overpriced but delivers solid goaltending. He’ll need a partner in crime, Holland probably aiming higher today but Mike Smith remains behind door No. 3. I like Rodrigue and am impressed by unsigned Russian Ilya Konovalov.
Left Defense (9): Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, Caleb Jones, Kris Russell, William Lagesson (RFA), Philip Broberg, Theodor Lennstrom, Dmitri Samorukov, Markus Niemelainen. I have a feeling we’ll see two names leaving town from this part of the depth chart. Russell is the obvious name but based on rumours there may be an exit from the top of the depth chart.
Right Defense (6): Adam Larsson, Ethan Bear (RFA), Matt Benning (RFA), Evan Bouchard, Logan Day (RFA), Filip Berglund. Larsson is a free agent in a year, so you have to at least contemplate making a move. Bear is the only sure thing here, with Benning expensive and Bouchard not yet a sure NHL player in management’s eyes. Plenty of options for Holland here.
Center (6): Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Jujhar Khaira, Gaetan Haas, Cooper Marody, Ryan McLeod. The 1-2 punch of the center depth chart is majestic, and a quality No. 3 center who can outscore opponents five on five and penalty kill would make it close enough to perfect. Khaira gets the fourth-line job but Haas will play, too.
Left Wing (8): Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Andreas Athanasiou (RFA), James Neal, Joakim Nygard, Tyler Benson, Joe Gambardella, Ryan Kuffner (RFA), Ostap Safin. I know they need one, and that may be Athanasiou, but it’s possible Holland grabs two with Nygard’s health less than certain. We’ll know what they think of Benson in 20 days.
Right Wing (8): Zack Kassian, Kailer Yamamoto, Josh Archibald, Alex Chiasson, Patrick Russell, Raphael Lavoie, Kirill Maksimov, Adam Cracknell. Yamamoto’s emergence was key, now if Puljujarvi gets signed and can help in the bottom-six forwards the club will have forged a solid future. Chiasson is vulnerable, Lavoie the next great hope.
Holland needs to sign Anton Khudobin, trade for OEL, Jake DeBrusk and Derek Ryan and bring it all in under the cap. Easy peasy. Oh! And not give up any picks or high end prospects. Coolio!
Interesting insight here from Mr. Johnston. Not that Nuge was shopped in the past (that would be pre-Holland) but that Edmonton will be a focus for at least a time in the days ahead. One winger we know is likely headed here (Puljujarvi) but the left wing needs help. DeBrusk? Bjork? Thomas Vanek? Magnus Paajarvi?
I don’t give my opinion straight up often, that isn’t really the point of this blog. However, it’s fun to give opinions (if you listen to the Lowdown you’ll already know) and express them, so here goes.
I think Ken Holland’s two best moves were to hire Dave Tippett and his timely elevation of Ethan Bear, Kailer Yamamoto and Caleb Jones. I don’t think previous administrations would have had the same seamless adjustment as Tippett managed with these three men.
Now the club has to look at the next crop of hopefuls and decide who is NHL-ready. Among Evan Bouchard, William Lagesson, Tyler Benson, Cooper Marody, Ryan McLeod and Joe Gambardella, should the organization clear space by moving out veterans? The team did one year ago with Sekera, will Holland do it again by trading Russell and Benning?
I’m more interested in the timeline for Bouchard and McLeod than the free agent signings to be honest. If I were Holland, I’d try to tweak that defense (add a puck mover to the current top 4-D) because it seems Tippett isn’t quite comfortable based on the OEL interest. Beyond that, I wouldn’t spend on a free agent winger and I don’t believe any of the free-agent centers are worth overpaying.
So, the recommendation of this blog is to attempt trading for a No. 3 center who can come in and help with the outscoring. Nick Bonino, Travis Boyd, Tyler Bozak, Riley Nash. Try to keep the acquisition short term and the money low.
In goal, I’d be tempted to try Laurent Brossoit again, but Aaron Dell is a better bet.
As for McDavid’s scoring winger, I would go the other way and sign a two-way winger like Jesper Fast and move Kassian down the depth chart. Andreas Athanasiou or Tyler Ennis for 97’s left side might be a good fit with Fast on the line.
I wouldn’t overspend in free agency and I wouldn’t trade a top-4 defenseman unless certain a better one is coming back. I will say that OEL is a player I believe could help the Edmonton Oilers.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, we hit the ground running on TSN1260. Jeff Krushell from Krush Performance joins us at 10:20 to preview MLB’s playoffs that get underway today, and then Scott Rafferty from NBA Canada previews the NBA Finals. We’ll have wall to wall hockey talks and all the breaking news. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!