Oilers fans have been writing down lines and pairings with summer moves since 1972, and it never quite turns out as planned. During seven seasons in the past, it worked out better. If the collective fan base of the franchise used the time spent on fixing the Oildrop working on real things—fixing the broken things around the house, taking back the empties, picking up litter—productivity within a 100-mile radius of Rogers Place would go through the roof.
Never gonna happen.
Instead, I have six moves that I believe Ken Holland will make this summer. What if he did the opposite?
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’s the latest!
- New Lowetide: Why Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard is poised to exceed expectations
- Lowetide: Oilers’ prospect pipeline could be at stake as AHL coach Jay Woodcroft outgrows his minor-league role
- DNB and Dom: How the Oilers should value pending UFAs
- Jonathan Willis: How the Oilers could make a Jack Eichel-level trade happen this offseason
- Lowetide: The 7 Oilers roster spots GM Ken Holland must improve this offseason
- Lowetide: Caleb Jones, Oilers reach crossroads that could land Jones in Seattle
- Lowetide: What will Oilers do if they must replace Oscar Klefbom?
- Jonathan Willis: What comes next for the Oilers’ Jesse Puljujarvi?
- Lowetide: Why Evan Bouchard, Ryan McLeod and more prospects are options for Oilers in 2021-22
- DNB: Ten teams the Oilers should be targeting for trades ahead of the Kraken expansion draft
- Lowetide: How Ken Holland’s transaction history could foreshadow the Oilers summer to come
- Lowetide: How close to NHL-ready is Oilers prospect Dmitri Samorukov?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ reasonable expectations eat dust during Connor McDavid’s dream season
- Jonathan Willis: Why some of the most popular moves Ken Holland could make would be mistakes
- Lowetide: Why huge Oil Kings goalie Sebastian Cossa could be the perfect first-round fit for the Oilers
- DNB: What I’m hearing about the Oilers’ plans for the Kraken draft
- Lowetide: The Oilers must decide now what to do about the Connor McDavid-Leon Draisaitl dilemma
- Lowetide: What is Kailer Yamamoto’s future fit on the Oilers’ depth chart?
- DNB: What a perfect offseason could look like for the Edmonton Oilers
- Lowetide: What now for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins?
MAKING THE PLAYOFFS
I have absolutely zero doubt Oilers fans won’t see it this way, but the Montreal Canadiens win last night over Vegas Golden Knights proves that making the playoffs is the big nut. Once you get there, anything can happen.
Ken Holland and Dave Tippett found a way to get this team into the playoffs in both seasons they have been a tandem. Oh I know they didn’t play Evan Bouchard enough and you could have coached better than Dave Tippett in the playoffs, but perhaps between fits of rage over the madness of signing Devin Shore, we can contemplate the idea that progress is being made. Now, those moves I teased at the top.
RUN SMITH-KOSKINEN ONE MORE YEAR
The first move I believe Holland will make is signing Mike Smith to a one-year deal. It will be more dollars, I’m estimating $3 million, and my guess is Koskinen remains until the deadline. At that point, with several teams out of contention, the Oilers can bring in a goalie who could carry them in the postseason. All of this seems reasonable.
What if the Oilers find a landing place for Koskinen? Say $2.25 million retained and a sweetener? It would allow Holland to spend over $6 million on a free-agent goalie, but it would only cost $4 million or so for Linus Ullmark or Chris Driedger. Edmonton could trade for Darcy Kuemper ($4.5 million) from the Arizona Coyotes as well. He might get a good 1A goalie too say both come in around $7 million? Ullmark and Raanta?
SIGN ADAM LARSSON AND DMITRY KULIKOV
If Holland brings back the two veteran defensive defensemen, he can allow coach Dave Tippett to set up his pairings effectively despite the youth we’ll see on the ice. A top-six defense of Nurse-Bear, Kulikov-Bouchard and Jones-Larsson should be good enough until the deadline, or until one of Dmitri Samorukov or Philip Broberg is ready. That seems reasonable.
What if Holland signs Tyson Barrie instead? Say he runs Nurse-Barrie again, and this time Jones-Bouchard and then Russell-Bear? Samorukov and Broberg getting callups for test drives during the first half of the year? If the club needed to add at the deadline, it would be easy enough to acquire real value for one of the young blue who would (by this time) have some experience and exposure.
SIGN BARCLAY GOODROW
He’s a solid option and the Lightning won’t be able to afford to sign Goodrow on his first real payday deal. He can score a little, solid in the dot, good possession numbers and played quite a bit versus elites (via Puck IQ) and had good numbers there too. Edmonton could run a center depth chart of McDavid-Draisaitl-Goodrow-McLeod with Khaira as an extra.
What if Holland decides to do what he normally does and sign one of the ancients? Ryan Getzlaf is old as the hills and twice as dusty, but his rel possession numbers remain solid. His five on five shots per 60 was just over 50 percent with expected goals just under that mark. He’s a mean man and I bet your bottom dollar Holland wants a player like him somewhere on the roster next winter. Hell maybe he’ll sign Getzlaf and Perry.
SIGN NUGE AND TOMAS TATAR
I think this is not only reasonable but absolutely possible. Both men struggled last season and that may allow Holland to get them at a discount (perhaps $10 million or thereabouts combined). Both possess good scoring numbers over the last three seasons. The top two lines could be Tatar-McDavid-Puljujarvi and Nuge-Draisaitl-Yamamoto.
On the other hand, Taylor freaking Hall! Acquiring Hall gives Tippett all kinds of options, from running him with one of 97 or 29, to loading up a line (praise Jesus!) down a goal with 55 seconds to play. If Edmonton ever gets a third-line center, the unicorn that is three scoring lines comes into view. It would require some innovation on the part of Holland, as a second left winger would be needed for the other skill line. Maybe Alex Wennberg, Joel Armia or Josh Leivo can fill the bill, or maybe Dylan Holloway and or Tyler Benson make the jump.
MY EXPECTED ROSTER
- Smith (Koskinen)
HOLLAND STEPS OUT
- Linus Ullmark (Antti Raanta)