Ken Holland had a media availability this morning where he talked about quite a few things in a limited amount of time. Let’s cover some of them and what they could mean for the Oilers in the near future.
ON THE DRAFT
Barring anything irresistible, Ken Holland is going to take the 14th pick, and it sounds like he’s about 99% sure he’s going to take a forward. Plenty of mock drafts have the Oilers landing a player like Seth Jarvis or Jack Quinn, and it sounds like the Oilers will pull the trigger on a scoring forward unless something just out of this world gets offered.
Holland says he’s going to wait until tomorrow morning to figure out what he’s going to do with the third round pick that was traded in the Lucic deal. The club has until the third round of the draft to figure out if they’re going to trade the pick that was awarded to the Calgary Flames in the Milan Lucic deal. With just five picks in this year’s draft, you can pretty much wager that Ken Holland will keep this year’s third round pick and get rid of his 2021 selection.
ON FREE AGENCY
Ken Holland made it clear that goaltending and 3C were priorities this offseason. The Oilers don’t have a tonne of cap space working for them, so expect them to make a move to acquire one of each, but they will be cost efficient. Any moves that are made will need to be “dollar in, dollar out” per Holland. Holland went on to explain that big splashy free agent signings sometimes don’t work because too often teams overpay or offer too much term in a free agent frenzy.
In similar news, the Sabres sound like they are moving on from centre Johan Larsson (1.55MM in 2019-20) and that might be a fit for Edmonton at 3C.
ON OSCAR KLEFBOM
Oscar Klefbom is in Sweden receiving treatment on his shoulder. From the way Holland sounded, I wouldn’t expect to see Oscar Klefbom when the season started. Surgery sounds like it’s all but imminent for Klefbom, and it doesn’t sound like the Oilers’ number one defenceman will be available anytime soon. When asked why it took two months after the Oilers were bounced from the play-in round to come to a determination. Holland suggested that Oscar needed some time to figure out what his next move would be, and that Klefbom probably wanted to see if surgery was avoidable.
Holland acknowledges that he’ll need to do something if Klefbom is out, and I’d expect him to try and get a player in to replace Klefbom during his absence. Says he’ll need to lean on players like Darnell Nurse, Caleb Jones and Kris Russell if need be, but he realizes the gravity of the situation if the club is without Klefbom for any length of time.
Klefbom is 27 years of age, he has three years remaining on his contract, it’s not his first shoulder surgery.
ON OLIVER EKMAN-LARSSON
Holland says that “it’s rumour season” and that you’re going to hear a lot of teams chatter back and forth about potential deals. Holland didn’t divulge too much about how serious any of the talks were regarding a potential OEL deal, but it’s my belief that the deal was past a casual tire kicking knowing what he knows about Oscar Klefbom.
ON THE GOALTENDING
Holland was asked what the plan is for goaltending going forward, and he was pretty straight to the point on this one.
- they’re probably going to address it within the week
- they’re going to go find a UFA
- they’re probably going to move on from Mike Smith
Some reading in between the lines here, but the more Holland explained himself, the more it sounded like a backup goaltender was what he was going for. It sounds like Mikko Koskinen will be the top goaltender heading into next season with a clear cut backup in play. Look for a UFA signing between now and ten days from now.
ON ANDREAS ATHANASIOU
Holland acknowledges that he wishes he could have seen more from AA, but the work stoppage kept Athanasiou to just 9 regular season games. Athanasiou’s qualifying offer is 3MM, I don’t think he’ll see that from Edmonton due simply to the cap situation being so tight. Holland may try to get him at a lower number, we’ll have to see how that works out.
ON MATT BENNING
Holland didn’t go into much detail on Matt Benning. When asked whether or not he would qualify Benning or Athanasiou, he said he’s “got a plan”. He would not divulge that plan, but if I’m reading Holland here, it means that he’s probably going to see if he can get both Athanasiou and Benning for 70 cents on the dollar. Clip those coupons.
ON RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS
Holland says that although there’s a year remaining on Nugent-Hopkins’ deal, he’d like to get something done sooner rather than later, though it’s OK if a contract talk drags on into the season. Nugent-Hopkins is an integral player on this Edmonton Oilers club, and Holland says that a long deal for the right price is what he’s aiming for.
Holland is looking for the best price he can get, but something around seven million a year ought not to surprise anyone,
ON JESSE PULJUJARVI
I think this was a telling part of the call
The Oilers don’t have very many players to play right wing, so Holland is playing nice with the player and the agent. The Oilers would benefit from Jesse Puljujarvi coming in and just peeling off 25 goals atop the McDavid line, but Holland acknowledges that it’s taken some convincing to get done.
My two cents: If Holland didn’t think that Puljujarvi could come in and get the deal done, he would have moved on by now. Instead, he’s invested time into the player and the agent. Holland says that he’s had what he believes to be very productive meetings with Puljujarvi’s agent Markus Lehto. While Holland acknowledges that he can’t promise Puljujarvi anything about playing time or where he’s going to play in the lineup, Holland also says that there’s a great opportunity for Puljujarvi to come in and become an immediate impact in the lineup.
If Holland didn’t think he needed the 22 year old Puljujarvi to come in on an inexpensive deal, he probably would have moved on by now.
Holland went on to say that he was happy with where the club was at on March 12th, though there’s plenty of work to be done. He acknowledges that there’s a plan and that the club has to stick with it. Says that the league will be active between now and Thursday with player movement, but an uncertain free agency period will begin on Friday now that the interview window hasn’t occurred this year.
If you’re planning your calendar out for ten days, look for the club to sign a backup goaltender, acquire a 3C, try to re-sign Athanasiou and Benning for a discount, try to work Jesse Puljujarvi back into the fold, and select a scoring winger first overall on Tuesday.