It’s Time For Oilers’ Ownership to Set Priorities

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 03: Leon Draisaitl #29 and Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers confer during the third period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on January 03, 2022 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Oilers 4-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Edmonton Oilers most recent loss to the Ottawas Senators, is the cherry on top of what has been a horrid stretch. The club is still looking for an elusive first win this calendar year. Which would be just the 4th since December 1st.

Dave Tippet’s club was up 3-1 going into the 3rd period Saturday night. The Senators outscored the Oilers 5 to 1 in the period to win 6-4. It was embarrassing to say the least and really defined what has been a stretch of a month and a half, that just won’t end.

Holland’s Decisions..

General Manager Ken Holland has made it clear that he believes in his coach and players. That the team they have now, is a team that can start winning again.

Holland had about $27 million in cap space to spend this summer and it’s now safe to say that he somehow made this team worse. He started out by signing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to a team friendly discount, for 8 years at $5.125m. Unfortunately, it all went down hill from there…

Grading Ken Holland’s offseason:

    • signed 39 year old Mike Smith to a 2 year contract, keepng the tandem of Smith and Koskinen between the pipes (D+)
    • acquired veteran defenseman Duncan Keith (who carries a $5,538,462 cap-hit), for a younger Caleb Jones and a draft pick (D-)
    • bought out James Neal‘s last 2 years of his contract which saved the team just under $4,000,000 in cap space (A)
    • lost Adam Larsson to the Seattle Expansion draft, so he signed Cody Ceci to a 4 year deal (C-)
    • re-signed Tyson Barrie for 3 more years at $4.5m. Even though Evan Bouchard was due for a promotion (F)
    • signed Zach Hyman to a 7 year, $38.5m contact ($5.5m AAV). Value isn’t bad but the term to get him is (B)
    • traded defenseman Ethan Bear for depth forward Warren Foegele (C+)
    • signed Darnell Nurse to an 8 year, $74m extension ($9.25m AAV). Way too much compared to Makar or McAvoy. (D)

All in all, this team got worse from last season. I was optimistic that these moves and fresh faces were going to get this team over the hump of mediocrity, but I was wrong.

The Edmonton Oilers are in year 7 of McDavid and Draisaitl and it’s at a point where the team might unfortunately waste both of their primes. Ownership has to set some priorities, who’s more important? Management and coaching or Connor and Leon.

So, What’s More Important to Oilers’ Ownership?

Oilers’ owner Daryl Katz has stated that he’s looking to “bring the glory days back”. Of course, he’s talking about the dynasty days in the 80’s with Gretzky and Messier. There’s one big difference… a cap floor and ceiling on rosters, so the playing field is more level across the NHL.

Oilers’ ownership keeps bringing in managers and coaches that are part of “the boys” club in the NHL, and it’s clear it’s not helping this team.

Holland is a Hall of Fame manager and had some great teams in Detroit, but that was also before a cap hit. Many of his top contributors were inherited from previous management. Backed by 2 late round draft picks he got lucky with (Zetterberg and Datsyuk).

This Twitter thread explains it perfectly:

Oilers Need Change.

In what world does it make sense that Bob Nicholson, Ken Holland and Dave Tippet are more valuable or important to this team than Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. One’s a generational talent and the other is a perennial all-star, who’s primes are being wasted.

Edmonton has 2 of the best players in the NHL and probably one of the best top 6 forward groups as well. It’s clear that this club needs a new and fresh perspective to manage it. Someone who is in touch with the modern era of the NHL and possibly an analytics department.

There’s a couple NHL teams that are heavy into analytics, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Carolina Hurricanes. Both of which are sitting in the top 5 of the standings almost half way into the season. Analytics can be over used in today’s game but it has also proved to be beneficial in finding valuable depth players.

Time To Choose…

If this team wants to win, I honestly think it’s time to choose between management and their stars. Holland has made it clear he’s not going to do anything drastic or big but that’s what needs to happen at this point.

All the struggles and the lack of a supporting cast is going to chase 97 and 29 out of town. At this point, it’s almost a matter of not just what if, but when.

It’s a big slap in the face of Oilers’ fans who have been through the struggles for 15 years now.

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