What is Ken Holland Thinking?
By Patrick Hoffman
If John Shannon's of Sportsnet report is true and Ken Holland really is the new general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, I am wondering what the heck he is thinking.
The Oilers have been disappointing fans for years. They've missed the playoffs a ton, have made questionable deals/free agent signings, have wasted the talents of two of their best players, and at least as of this writing, they have no clear direction in which they are headed.
Yes, your new club has guys like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl who can put the puck in the net and put up points. These are two generational players that you are lucky to have.
With that said, your new franchise has done absolutely nothing to help them or build around them. During the regular season, the Oilers finished 20th in the league in goals scored with 229 goals in 82 games, which means that they averaged less than three goals per game this past season.’
When it comes to the team's offense, Holland is going to need to figure out a way to revamp it. With the exception of guys like McDavid (116 points), Draisaitl (105 points), and Nugent-Hopkins (69 points), every one up front should be put on notice because if they are not going to produce and take the pressure off of McDavid and Draisaitl, they will be useless and should be shipped out of town.
Speaking of useless, Holland also needs to figure out a way to upgrade his club's defense. The team was 25th in the league in goals allowed this year as they gave up 271 goals in 82 games, which is awful.
The club's defense is disorganized, has trouble with the puck in their own zone, does not do a good enough job of protecting their goaltender, and has a habit for giving up a lot of goals. When your team is allowing close to four goals per game, that's a problem.
Speaking of giving up goals, Holland may want to take a closer look at the team's goaltending. Former general manager Peter Chiarelli gave netminder Mikko Koskinen a multi-year extension, which was incredibly stupid.
Koskinen is already 30-years-old, has only played in 59 games in his NHL career, and was not exactly great this season. Sure, he had 25 wins, but a goals-against average of 2.93 and a save percentage of .906 save percentage don't exactly scream starting goaltender.
I realize that things were not easy in Detroit over the last several years. With that said, in his 21-year tenure with franchise, he built a team that won four Cups (1997, 1998, 2002, and 2008).
While a lot can happen between now and the start of next season, I am not sure what Holland is going to be able to do with the Oilers. There are not exactly many players jumping on board to come to the Oilers given what they have done/not done for a very long time.
Holland better fasten his seatbelt because something tells me his time with the Oilers is going to be a bumpy ride.
Patrick covers the NHL for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave.
He has previously covered the league for WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.
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