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8 Game Review and Ken Holland’s Report Card

2019 NHL Draft - Round 2-7
Tell Czechboy he was wrong to doubt me!
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

Welcome back. Here is what the previous 8(ish) game reviews have looked like:

First 8 games - 7 and 1 (14 points)

Games 9 to 16 - 3 and 5 (3-3-2) (8 points)

Games 17 to 24 - 4 and 4 (4-3-1) (9 points)

Games 25 to 32 - 4 and 4 (4-3-1) (9 points)

Games 33 to 41 - 2 and 7 (4 points)

Games 42 to 49 - 6 and 2 (6-1-1) (13 points)

Games 50 to 59 - 6 and 4 (6-3-1) (13 points in 10 games)

Games 60 to 67 - 4 and 4 (4-2-2) (10 points)

10 points in 8 games is a little above our average and more than enough to get us into the playoffs if we can sustain this pace. Even better, we did this with a lot of key players missing. No McDavid, Klefbom, Kassian or Neal for chunks of this stretch. It’s truly been great to watch as the season could’ve taken a serious downturn in this stretch and it didn’t.

All that matters is this:

Here are our Top 10 scorers for this stretch:

Kailer has been amazing. Nurse got 6 points in 8 games in Klefbom’s absence (which is hopefully done now) and Kassian has 2 points in 4 games since coming back.

The 20 goal club?

RNH has finally got some good linemates and has been on fire. He has 59 points in 62 games now and it seems clear he’ll end up having a career year. I’ve always said he has the worst job in hockey when Connor/Drai are on line 1. He finally has support and is showing why he is so good. He recently got his 20th goal. We now have three 20 goal scorers. Got me wondering how many more we will have?

I noticed that Neal (19), Kassian (15), Ennis (15), Archibald (12), Chiasson (12), Athanasiou (11) and Yamamoto (11) all have a crack at it. Neal seems likely. Who does everyone think will crack 20 as well?

Top 10 scoring in 2020

Since Yamamoto joined us, we have been a different team. Here are our leading scorers since New Year’s Day:

I was happy/surprised to see Archibald at number 5.

Here is the next 20 scoring in 2020

AA and Ennis are already catching a lot of these guys in considerably less games. James Neal is 21 in case anyone was wondering.

Our Top 6 went from 3 guys to 4 guys and is doing extremely well:

McDavid’s wings?

I would say our biggest current issue is finding 2 solid wingers for McDavid. No one wants to touch our amazing ‘line 2’. In Connor’s last several games he has played with Ennis, AA, Archibald, Gagner, Neal, Chiasson and Kassian. We really need to get him some consistent winger’s. I would like to see AA get a second crack it with Ennis. I’d also like to keep Archibald in that mix. I will say that the third line of Kassian/Sheahan/Archibald is a very good unit. My guess is that Kassian gets the 1RW back.

Grading Ken Holland

I remember Brian Burke once saying that a GM’s work is done after the trade deadline for that season. All they can do after that is cheer from the rafters. I know there is always work to be done for next season (draft, College free agents, European free agents, sign extensions) but, for this season, there really isn’t much more Holland can do.

Therefore, I thought it’d be a great time to grade his work as the Oiler’s Gm the past 10 months or so. I was going to use my usual Good, Bad and Ugly format but, fortunately, it didn’t really apply to Ken Holland’s body of work at all. Some of my bad’s several people will consider good and some of my goods people will consider bad. There really is no ugly.

The Outstanding:

Our Special Teams have improved and a lot of that is on Holland.

Hiring Dave Tippet. I’m sure there are many candidates for Coach of the Year but he has to be on that list. Oiler’s are so good now that people forget how bad we’ve been.

Neal for Lucic. Neal has had a part in improving our Powerplay. More imporantly, if he never plays again for the Oil, we have options to trade him or expose him in draft. We had no such options with Lucic.

Trade Deadline. I want to get this on record. Whether or not those guys pan out. I loved what he did and felt it was outstanding. It might not work out but he did all that without costing us a first or any major prospects.

Jesse P. I think he’s handled this awesome. Jesse now leads the Liiga in scoring and should make Team Finland at the World’s (if there is a World’s). Chia traded Yakupov for an ECHL player that never played for our AHL team. Holland can still make this into a win. (NOTE: I want Jesse back next year with open arms. I get why’s he’s mad and don’t blame him one bit but all the guys in management that caused his problems are all gone. It’s a fresh slate with a new coach and new GM).

The Jones extension is phenomenal!

The Nygard extension was a nice piece of business.

He left Broberg in Sweden. Previous years Broberg would’ve played 9 NHL games, been labelled a bust and be stuck somewhere between Bakersfield and Sweden right now.

He signed Smith to a contract I absolutely hated! You could argue Smith has been as big a piece in the 2020 part of the season as the emergence of Yamo. This is the signing that keeps giving.

No one is being rushed and he did get Benson some looks.

The bad:

Next season sees almost 6 million dollars going to Kassian, Sekera and Lucic. I wish we had handled that differently.

We are low on draft picks. We have our firsts but are missing a lot of 2nds, 3rds and 4ths. I keep wondering if the plan is to trade Jesse for a few of those missing picks?

The 50/50:

Nurse and Kassian contracts. Some don’t like the Broberg pick.

Final Grade:

A. I’m not saying all the success is on Holland. A lot of success is on the backs of Bear/Yamamoto/Jones stepping up. Some great pieces were in place already. However, he hasn’t made any glaring mistakes, won the trade deadline, got rid of Lucic, didn’t cave on Jesse P, hired Tippet and has a big hand in improving our Special Teams which are a big part of our success. I certainly wasn’t clamouring for Archibald and Sheahan and both those signings are paying off huge dividends.