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Ken Holland Prepares to Fumble Expansion

The Oilers GM is rumoured to be making yet another baffling move

2019 NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

If we are to believe that what is currently circulating around social media Oiler fans should be clamoring for a swift replacement at the GM level. A tweet by a very connected source within the Edmonton mediascape is drawing plenty of ire from fans of the team.

The tweet in question belongs to the one and only Bob Stauffer. Ahead of Monday’s edition of OilersNow, the host shared his prediction for Edmonton’s protection list for the upcoming Seattle Kraken expansion draft. Considering his deep connection to the team, this should be a good tell of who Holland is prioritizing...and the result is disappointing and downright confusing.

Two names pop out on this list: Zack Kassian and Josh Archibald. While I don’t have man quarrels with Archibald it is surprising that he would be considered for a spot on this list as I don’t believe he would be high up on Seattle’s wishlist. Even so, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he was taken and could easily be replaced in free agency.

The real head-scratcher is Zack Kassian. The reformed tough guy has been absolutely terrible since signing a bloated contract and it seems as though his electric 2017 playoff run was nothing more than a mirage. His usefulness to the team has reached an all-time low for this team and getting that contract off the books should be high on the priority list.

I have seen justification for this as his value being a bit more inflated due to the Tom Wilson incident rubbing some eastern teams the wrong way, but I disagree with this. If the Oilers decide to protect Kassian for the reason of trading him this summer we must judge any trade by what the Oilers lost during the expansion draft.

The most likely casualty of doing this is Caleb Jones. Jones has had his fair share of struggles as a young NHL defender but he has shown plenty of promise as a 24-year-old. He has good possession numbers and is easily the team’s second-best LD without Oscar Klefbom in the fold. Losing him would represent a colossal misstep by management, especially if it was all in an effort to keep a rapidly regressing Kassian.

So, with the risks of protecting Kassian now known, let's revisit a potential Kassian trade this summer. I tend to doubt speculation that Kassian’s value has increased at all around the league but, even if it has, could the Oilers really acquire someone on the same level as Jones? A cost-controlled young defender who has good possession numbers is probably not what we’re looking at as a return.

With that, it appears that Holland is barreling towards a very stupid decision that has nothing to really back itself up. Kassian would be even lower on Seattle’s list, so Edmonton would be stuck with him even if he was unprotected.

The point of this draft is to protect players that Seattle might want on their team. Ken Holland is instead protecting players they don’t want and offering up a fine selection of good young talent in Jones.

It is a textbook example of poor asset management and one that shouldn’t be made by a GM with the supposed ‘prestige’ that Holland carries. It instead reads as a floundering move by a GM who no longer cares to try.