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The Copper And Blue Midseason Roundtable: Part III

Through The Looking Glass: Will Oilers improve enough to force Ken Holland’s hand at the trade table? Are playoffs an unrealistic goal?

Chicago Blackhawks v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

The Oilers have emerged from the All-Star Break having laid a couple of eggs in back-to-back contests. Our staff is back for the final installment of this year’s midseason roundy, and we’ve got all eyes on Ken Holland and the playoffs. Can the Oilers depend on Ken Holland to make a winning trade by using this year’s first rounder as credit? Can the Oilers make a mark in the upcoming playoffs?

Let’s get to it.

QUESTION: Earlier last month, Oilers GM Ken Holland suggested that he’s unwilling to trade Edmonton’s first round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft unless the team greatly improves. Do you have any confidence in Ken Holland’s ability to upgrade the team in a trade involving the 2022 first rounder?

Sunil: Nope. For more than a decade, Holland has done a poor job constructing rosters partly because he doesn’t understand how to properly evaluate assets – whether it be picks, players or cap space. Without a long-term plan and an ability to approach asset management more creatively, I would keep my expectations of Holland low.

Shona: See, I don’t get this. Why trade the pick if the team improves? The team improving should be a sign that the trade of that pick isn’t so urgently needed. It’s some backwards thinking for me. If that team doesn’t improve, trade for someone who can improve the team and use the pick to do so. I don’t have any confidence in Ken Holland full stop. He can’t improve the team because he can’t accurately assess what he’s got and doesn’t have. And he can’t accurately judge value and when he should negotiate (see the Nurse contract). Ken Holland has been a disaster for the last couple years and the only way Ken Holland can improve the Oilers is if Ken Holland voluntarily removes himself.

Czechboy: No, I have no faith in Holland. He just outbid himself and overpaid for a player no other team wanted and gave him a NMC to boot! He overpaid for Keith when he had all the leverage. He gave 2 year deals to several players that are bombing in the first year. He is wasteful with cap space and keeps losing trades. The longer he stays, the more likely he’ll replace Chia as the worst GM in Oiler history. He needs to have a nice retirement ceremony, hand him a silver stick and wish him well. Worst use of 12.5 million dollars I’ve seen. Our first rounder, Barrie and a good prospect should be enough to fix our problems. The answer is not in the room. I know Holloway projects to be great but he’s not fixing this as our forwards are excellent. Bro might fix 3LD and I’m fine with a callup down the road. That’s the ‘room’ as far as I can tell.

Rob: One would hope any deal involving the Oilers first rounder in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft improves the current roster but not sure Holland has an impact move in him. His trade history suggests he does not and the fear around him potentially getting fleeced is a well warranted concern.

Would it surprise me to see the Oilers part with the pick in the aforementioned deal to land Kuemper? It would not but again, not sure it comes to fruition. A player like Jakob Chychrun would be fantastic and fill an actual need but Edmonton has doubts about the player and asking price. Holland is in a tough spot and my confidence in him knocking it out of the park isn’t high.

Alex: I actually think the last three first rounders by Ken Holland will be NHLers. But in my opinion, those are your key depth pieces for the next three years. If the rumoured price for Chychrun from the Oilers would be 2022 1st, Barrie and Broberg, I think that’s where I’m putting that pick to use. That moves Keith to 3LD, where he belongs, and does in fact upgrade the team.

Matt: When was the last time Ken Holland won a trade? I have no confidence in his ability to put his shirt on correctly, let alone make a good trade.

QUESTION: Finally, where do the Oilers finish at the conclusion of this season? Do they make a mark in the playoffs?

Sunil: I suspect the Oilers will finish fourth in the Pacific, maybe third if the goaltending improves. But without some better defencemen and league-average goaltending, I don’t have much faith in their ability to succeed in the playoffs.

Shona: They finish just out of a playoff spot. I think we’re missing the playoffs. We can’t get enough consistency lately to really look like a contender and I’m sure this is no longer our year so Holland will be content to coast.

Czechboy: I haven’t changed my view. We make playoffs and we are out in Round 1. We will NEVER win a thing with Koski/Smith as our starters and Tipp on the bench. Not sure why we are doing this 3 years in a row? I’m all for second chances but a hattrick of chances is absurd. Only way we do well is if we get a goalie who is around .915 or higher for rest of season and playoffs. A new 3LD (like Kulikov for instance, I’ve said we should trade KK for Kempny to solve this). I consider our bottom 6 and 3C fixed. I think our Top 6 is more than good enough. Trade Barrie and get a new 3RD (someone young that can defend, could move up the lineup if needed and makes 2 million might be nice... wish we had a guy like that).

Rob: Can’t see the Oilers not making the playoffs but can’t see them making an actual run either. I still think they could finish as high as second in the Pacific but what does that even mean? As we are now seven years into the career of Connor McDavid, anything short of a Western Conference Final appearance would make this season a failure. In my mind, that was never a realistic ask but here we are.

Alex: Yes, they make the playoffs. I think they make some improvements in the next month and a half to become stronger defensively. Third place in the Pacific Division with a 47-28-7 record and 101 points.

Matt: In that gooey middle of the league, somewhere between 12-20. If it’s closer to 12, my assumption is they lose in R1.

Thanks go out to all our contributors for their time.

The Oilers are back in action tomorrow night versus the Islanders.