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Hot Links: Wednesday, September 9

A new, weekly feature on the site, Free Agency gets a start date, Adam Cracknell signing likely, Evan Bouchard to Sweden, Gaetan Haas to Switzerland, Jesse Puljujarvi, and MORE!

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NHL: Washington Capitals at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Morning, folks!

The big story for me in the last 24 hours:

It’s official, folks. The NHL Draft will be held October 6-7, with Free Agency beginning on October 9.

One month. Holland has one month to get his mallards organized and cobble together a plan for attacking the UFA period - whether that means via signings, trades, both, or whatever. The Oilers are about to enter Year 6 AMcD (After McDavid), and cannot afford to spend many more seasons outside of the top few teams in the league. Holland makes more money than most of the Oilers. He must make them better this fall.

The Oilers found themselves in the league’s top half of the standings when COVID-19 interrupted their season, mostly thanks to some otherworldly special teams: a top-five PK and one of the most — perhaps the most — dangerous PPs in NHL history. Unfortunately, their 5v5 game still needs work. Here are their ranks in some key 5v5 metrics, as per Natural Stat Trick:

5v5 Rates

Metric CF% FF% SF% SCF% HDCF% GF% xGF%
Metric CF% FF% SF% SCF% HDCF% GF% xGF%
Rate 47.87 48.34 48.31 47.72 49.55 47.32 48.51
League Rank 27 23 22 23 20 25 22
5v5 Rates Data via Natural Stat Trick

Those rates paint the picture of a bottom-third team at even strength. Holland has work to do. It’s worth noting that the two remaining favorites, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights, were in the top-10 for every single one of the above metrics except SF%, where Tampa sat 14th with 50.53%, and in GF%, in which Vegas was 11th at 51.02%. Both teams were top-3 in expected goals for %, and scoring chances for %. Ken Holland could do worse than try to emulate those two powerhouses.

Which, as an aside, is there a better example of the general incompetence of NHL GM’s than the Golden Knights being an absolute monster in their third year of existence? Is there anything that more clearly and succinctly paints a picture of league-wide incompetence than an expansion team being the (IMO, clearly) best in its conference almost immediately?

How does that happen?

If Vegas wins the Conference Finals — again, for the second time in their three years of existence, they’ll have won as many playoff series this season as the Oilers have played in since 2006.

NEW - Last Week in Hockey: September 9 (Copper and Blue)

Oilers Top Prospect D Evan Bouchard Headed to Sweden (Copper and Blue)

Jesse Puljujarvi Deserves A Shot (Copper and Blue)

Hot Links: Tuesday, September 8 (Copper and Blue)

NHL Draft One Month Away… (Oilersnation)

NHL Free Agency Slated To Open On October 9th (Oilers Nation)

Report: Edmonton Oilers ‘Likely’ To Sign Forward Adam Cracknell (Oilers Nation)

Oilers Officially Loan Haas, Bouchard To Europe (Oilers Rig)

NHL offseason priorities: What to expect from all 31 teams (Athletic)