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Telegraphing Ken Holland’s Next Moves

The draft is coming up tomorrow, and free agency will follow up soon. Here’s what I think Ken Holland will do between now and then.

2021 NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Ryan Hrycun/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s about to become busy season for the Edmonton Oilers once again. Tomorrow is day one of the NHL Entry Draft, day two will spill into Friday. Free agency will begin days later on July 13th. The potential for action is high, we’ll surely see a deal or two made between now and then.

Here’s what I think Ken Holland will be up to over the next week or so.


The Oilers have the 29th pick of the NHL Entry Draft, and I don’t think Ken Holland is going to get cute or make a move up. I think the chances are decent that he moves back into the second round if he picks up an additional pick along the way. With just four picks in this year’s entry draft, Holland could be tempted to pick up another selection or two along the way if he could. I think the chances of him just standing pat and picking at 29th are greater than him moving back. I don’t think he’s going to use the first round pick as a piece to a bigger deal unless he just gets a whopper in return. He’s got to save up all the cap space he can if he plans on retaining any of his free agent crop. The Oilers have just four draft picks, he’s got to make them count.

FRIDAY, JULY 9th 2022

The Oilers are scheduled to pick in the fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds on Friday. Unless Ken Holland’s got some extra juice to get into a second or third round pick, the Oilers will 129 positions from their first pick to their second. Unless Holland’s got some Tyson Barrie-to-the-Coyotes-for-a-second-round-pick vibe going on, it could be a long day waiting for the fifth rounder to show up.

SATURDAY, JULY 10th 2022 to WEDNESDAY, JULY 13th 2022

Saturday is supposed to be the deadline for Duncan Keith to come to a decision about playing in 2022-23. If Keith decides to call it quits, I think Holland immediately tries to re-sign Evander Kane to a big money deal with term. I don’t think there’s a taker for Zack Kassian and I believe Ken Holland will be forced to buy him out after just two years of a 3.2MM x 4 deal that we all knew was going to be a disaster from the moment it was signed. Holland should be able to fetch a deal for Tyson Barrie, which could help free up some additional cap space should he choose. With Mike Smith sounding more and more like he’s headed to LTIR, the Oilers will need to make sure that they have every bit of cap space at their disposal to try and ink their free agents.

If a Puljujärvi deal happens during this time, I fear it’s going to disappoint. If three million is too much for a player like Puljujärvi, any return you get will be worth a fraction of that number. Maybe it’s for a draft pick. No thanks.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 13th 2022 -- MONDAY, AUGUST 1st 2022

Here’s what I’ve got Ken Holland doing in the middle of July.

  • Signs a goaltender. The talk right now is Jack Campbell, and I think if the term is there, he’ll be an Oiler on the 13th. Regardless of what you might think about Campbell, it’ll put to bed some of the talk about how Holland was never able to get a goaltender. Campbell might (or might not) be that guy, but Holland will have gotten his goaltender three years after becoming Oilers GM. If Holland can’t get something done between Ville Husso, Jack Campbell or Darcy Kuemper, there’s Braden Holtby, Martin Jones and Jaroslav Halak. Nobody will legitimately say that Holland “got his goalie” if Martin Jones is the guy come camp.
  • Makes a pass at Claude Giroux - this would be awesome. Giroux is getting up there in years, but the forever Flyer put up 65 points between his time in Philadelphia and Florida last season. If he’s willing to do it for a few bucks off, I’d love to see him in the top six.
  • Trades Jesse Puljujärvi for something underwhelming. I’ve beaten this one to a pulp - I think Edmonton is going to get crushed in a deal that involves the 24 year old Finn.
  • Extends Kulak - I think something gets done here. Kulak was too good to ignore. If Duncan Keith sticks around, I think the chances of Edmonton extending Kulak go down pretty significantly. Kulak is my 2LD going into 2022-23, let’s see if he’s Edmonton’s.
  • Signs Yamamoto to another short term deal - The Oilers don’t have any quality right wings after Jesse Puljujärvi and Kailer Yamamoto. With regards to Yamamoto, Holland ought to make room for a player that finished at just below half a point per game. The deal might be longer, but again, cap space.
  • Evander Kane goes to the Eastern Conference as a UFA. He had a great half season with the Oilers, now his AAV is going to go through the roof. Someone out east will give him term and money, something I’d avoid.
  • If Holland really needs to free up cap space, I think there’s a taker for Tyson Barrie. I think Holland likes Barrie and doesn’t really want to give him up. If he does, he’s got to find another right shot defenceman.

Too much?

Not enough?

It’ll be a busy offseason for Ken Holland. He’s on a budget and the Oilers will look to improve on their finish this season. He’ll have his work cut out for him. Let’s see what he’s got.