I mentioned yesterday that this offseason was off to a strange start. The Ryan Nugent-Hopkins contract was a solid start, the Matej Blumel walk away an alarm bell and the Devin Shore signing wasn’t a major issue for me but had a lot of Oilers fans concerned.
The trade for Duncan Keith is absolutely the defining move of summer for Ken Holland. We’ll get to the cap implications in a minute, but there are things we can conclude about the deal. First, the Oilers wanted Keith. The organization ran through roadblocks, stop signs and choppers in the air to get their man.
On the positive side, Keith is proven. On the negative side, he’s an old player. That doesn’t concern Holland, but the trade is a risky one and the risk is all in Edmonton. Holland owns that. He seems content with that scenario.
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: What did the Oilers sacrifice in sending Caleb Jones to Chicago in the Duncan Keith trade?
- New Jonathan Willis: Duncan Keith, by the numbers
- New DNB: How Ken Holland’s overpay for Duncan Keith limits the Oilers’ offseason options
- Lowetide: 10 free agents for the Oilers to target this offseason
- Jonathan Willis: Yes or no? Have your say on 10 hypothetical Oilers trades
- Lowetide: Is this the year the Oilers find a world-class agitator in the draft?
- Lowetide: Which draft prospects will be available when the Oilers pick at No. 19?
- Lowetide: Oilers 2021-22 roster projection, including trade and free agent targets
- DNB: How do Oilers fans feel about their team’s 2020-21 season?
- Lowetide: What is a reasonable trade price for Oilers to pay for Duncan Keith?
- Lowetide: Will the Oilers draft from the OHL after a season that never happened?
- DNB: Oilers are interested in trading for Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith — at a price
- Lowetide: Finding the ideal No. 3 centre for the Edmonton Oilers
- New DNB: What I’m hearing about the Oilers offseason
- Lowetide: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ future value to the Oilers will be defined by his adaptability
- DNB: Oilers’ Connor McDavid wants ‘more consistency’ with NHL playoff officiating
- DNB: How re-signing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for eight years could help and hurt the Oilers
- DNB: Five offseason scenarios that could upend the Oilers’ best-laid plans
- Lowetide: Will the Oilers return to the WHL prospect pool in the 2021 draft?
- 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
- 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
- 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
This is James Neal bought out, Kyle Turris in the minors, Dominik Kahun lost to the Kraken and William Lagesson on waivers and hopefully on his way to Bakersfield.
There is $1.1 million left, Oscar Klefbom is happily throwing his children in the air at home and we hope to see him again.
I got tired of looking for a center who could play on the third line who was worth $4 million, so I added a value LW (Tatar) and moved Nuge to center. It won’t happen but this roster looks stronger. I added Jordan Martinook because I’ve always liked his play.
Since everyone is loving this trade so much I’ll just add a short comment on throw in Tim Söderlund, who’s played a couple of seasons with Filip Berglund in Skellefteå, think they even spent some time together with the junior team. He’s a small, speedy forward with good not great hands who’s offense has never really translated to the pro ranks.
I don’t think he has the playmaking ability nor the shot to produce at higher levels. Though I think part of the issue was that he left Sweden a season or two too early, before he really “popped”, I think he could have added a layer as a finisher in the style of Joakim Nygård had he stayed but know I have a hard time seeing him figure it out and become an NHL contributer. He doesn’t have near the top speed of Nygård btw, Söderlund’s speed is more about quickness, I mean in terms of figuring out how to be able to use his speed to create a lot of chances rather than a clean shot or great vision to produce.
The hope is that he finds a way to use his speed, skill combo more efficiently, he skates a lot, works hard on the forecheck but it doesn’t really lead to much. That hope is slim though, he’s had a couple of pro coaches trying to help him figure it out already. At least he’s a familiar face for Filip Berglund coming over and he adds some speed to the Condors.
THOUGHTS ON THE DEAL
I’m writing this at eight this morning after a deep sleep (the Jones article written for The Athletic was cathartic) and am reminded of a trade from the past.
In the Andrew Cogliano deal, Steve Tambellini showed he didn’t have the kind of value on the player as fans or the hockey industry. Like Cogliano, Jones can skate and is making progress (as per my Jones piece) but Holland and the coaching staff (and the players according to rumour) went another way. Like Cogliano, Jones needs some patience and I expect he’ll get it in Chicago or elsewhere.
Beyond that, the deal shows Holland and his management team missed badly on the value of cap room. Duncan Keith’s value to the Oilers will play out next winter, and as he’s one of my favourite players over the last 20 years I get the excitement of adding a future Hall of Famer. I do think there’s evidence he’ll perform better with fewer minutes and a capable partner (I’ll guess Adam Larsson or Ethan Bear).
The risk is on Holland’s side and that’s a tell. Some of those dollars should have been retained by Stan Bowman and the ‘Hawks, allowing the Oilers to sign a more substantial scoring winger for the McDavid line, a better No. 3 center or a better goaltender.
Perhaps, as in the example above, Holland gets all those things. Imagine, as is possible, Keith rebounds enough for fans to place him beside Mike Smith as an elder who performed well in the Holland ‘old guy’ club.
It still doesn’t change the truth. Ken Holland gave up too much in the Duncan Keith trade. Oilers management needs an analytics department they trust and respect, and a cap expert who will give good advice they’ll listen to at important moments.
Edmonton Oilers fans make these things possible through buying tickets, product and goods from team partners. That cap room was hard earned by fans, who are in fact the bosses.
This is a stand and deliver summer for Ken Holland. I’ll give full credit for the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins signing, and despite my genuine concern over the Matej Blumel non-signing will admit it isn’t earth shattering.
The Duncan Keith trade signals Oilers management does not have a full understanding of the market at this time. That should be unsettling just a few days before free agency. Holland will need to deliver a handsome return with the cap room he has left.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun morning on the show, we begin at 10 on TSN1260. Blackhawks reporter Tab Bamford will join us at 10:20, and Daniel Nugent-Bowman from The Athletic will pop in at 11 to discuss his coverage of the deal. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!