TIME TO TALK
Ken Holland will address the media tomorrow at 10 AM mountain time, where I’m sure he’ll have plenty to say. The Oilers are mired in a slump that’s got them three wins between December 1 and today. Dave Tippett is on an 0-9-2 run, and there’s questions surrounding whether Tippett will remain the head coach of the Oilers. The club is in the middle of another Covid outbreak that postponed tonight’s game until Saturday. Meanwhile, the Oilers have dipped to sixth in the Pacific Division.
Needless to say, there will be plenty to talk about.
Here’s a few questions I’ve got. I’d like to keep this under a thousand words, so I’ve limited it to five.
- DO YOU REGRET SIGNING MIKE SMITH TO A TWO YEAR DEAL IN THE OFFSEASON?
It’s not exactly a secret that goaltending has been an issue in Edmonton since Cam Talbot was a starter. After a ho-hum campaign in 2019-20, Mike Smith had a bounce back campaign last year. Soon to turn age 40, he’s been unable to stay healthy for any length of time this year. Smith is signed through the 2022-23 season. Mikko Koskinen has had some ups and some downs this year, both Smith and Koskinen are hovering near a .900 SV%. That’s not going to win you very many games. Ken Holland’s had nearly a thousand days on the job as Oilers GM to improve the crease, I wonder if he regrets signing Smith.
- ARE THE OILERS STILL “ALL-IN”?
I figured last season was a good as any season to make a run for the Stanley Cup. The Oilers dipped their toe in the trade deadline pool and acquired Dmitry Kulikov for a draft pick. With the Oilers needing a left wing to play in the top six, some Oiler fans were frustrated that the Oilers didn’t make a bigger splash at the trade deadline and acquire a player like Taylor Hall. Ken Holland said that the Oilers couldn’t be all-in every year and that they’d use their cap space in the upcoming offseason to make inroads. To say that the offseason was a mixed bag is being quite generous to Ken Holland. He did good enough by signing Zach Hyman, but two more years of Mike Smith, a lopsided trade for Duncan Keith, a three year extension for Tyson Barrie and shipping a cost-controlled top four defenceman in Ethan Bear for third line forward Warren Foegele hasn’t yet proven to be a recipe for success. Are the Oilers still going for it? If so, what now?
- HOW MUCH LONGER IS THE DAVE TIPPETT EXPERIENCE GOING TO LAST?
Most everyone was singing Dave Tippett’s praises after the club lunged out to a 16-5 start this season. Now at 18-14-2 (and on an 0-9-2 run that has the Oilers averaging less than 2 goals per game over that period), it seems like nothing’s working right at all. Connor and Leon play together and the Oilers become a one line team. Tyson Barrie is a third pair defenceman one night, the next night he’s atop the first pair. When Nugent-Hopkins is healthy, maybe he’d want to try him at 3C in order to help steady a bottom six that’s leaky at every turn?
How many more losses before something happens?
- ARE YOU REALLY SERIOUS ABOUT ACQUIRING EVANDER KANE?
From a purely hockey standpoint, Evander Kane is a very talented forward. He’s scored 20 or more goals seven times in his career, which would make him an instant candidate to put in the top six of this Oilers club. From a purely hockey standpoint, I understand Edmonton’s interest, b. ut the Oilers need to take a look at the big picture. This comes after the San Jose Sharks terminated Kane’s contract, and the contract termination comes in a separate incident after he served a 21 game suspension for submitting a fake vaccination card. Kane will forfeit over 22 million dollars after his contract was terminated. Covid issues aside, San Jose isn’t the first team that Kane has made waves on for alleged off-ice conduct. If the Oilers are going to take a chance on Kane, they’ve got to really think it over. Then, think it over again.
- HOW DO YOU PLAN ON FITTING JESSE PULJUJARVI’S NEXT CONTRACT UNDER THE CAP?
I don’t expect any of these questions to be asked, and if they were, I don’t expect any of them to be answered by something that isn’t a scoff and a nod to the Guide And Record Book™. Out of all of these questions, this is the one I want answered most. The cap is going up a meagre 1 million at the end of this hockey year. Barring Duncan Keith retiring, the Oilers have about seven million in cap space to figure out Jesse Puljujärvi’s next deal, Kailer Yamamoto’s next deal, the goaltending situation, Ryan McLeod, William Lagesson, Tyler Benson, and what to do with Brendan Perlini or Colton Sceviour. Getting Jesse Puljujärvi back to Edmonton was Ken Holland’s best bit of business to date. Now, can he get him under a long term contract with next to no cap space?
I don’t expect to hear anything ground breaking tomorrow, but it’d be nice to hear some answers and what Ken Holland thinks has kept the Oilers down. Maybe there’s a plan to get the Oilers back on track.