Holland warned of oil tanker struggles with “all-in every year” comments
Technically, this North Division first-round series with the Winnipeg Jets is not over. The Edmonton Oilers still have a chance Monday night to continue playing hockey in the back-to-back playoffs. That said, the reality is that the Oilers face near insurmountable odds as few teams have come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series.
The Oilers have actually outperformed the Jets for much of this series. Some terribly timed games and a few back-to-back failures in poor coverage in short thrusts took their toll on the team. Josh Archibald’s bad clipping penalty is just the latest example. He was suspended for a game accordingly.
Credit is due, as the Jets were able to contain the top two players in the NHL for two games. But, even when Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl started contributing offensively, other holes crept into the Oilers tag team game. This team hasn’t been good enough for 60 minutes (more in two cases now) of any of the hockey games they’ve played so far in the series and it seems like when the pressure is at its greatest, this hockey club is weakening.
Oilers general manager Ken Holland might have warned this was coming.
On April 12, in a media interview discussing the NHL trade deadline, Holland said, âI don’t think you can get all-in every year. I think you choose and choose. And, despite a good season for the Oilers – a season in which the team finished second in the North Division – Holland chose this not to be the year.
While some might suggest that he was implying that he didn’t think his team needed a boost, one could say that those words were a sign that Holland didn’t think his team were strong enough to really do. be a Stanley Cup contender. The previous season, he had added pieces that had not paid off. Holland wasn’t about to sacrifice draft picks and prospects again if he thought this year’s team was in fact less likely to win than the 2019-20 roster.
For example, choosing to add only defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, Holland has done next to nothing by this year’s deadline.
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What Holland could have done
There were potential opportunities to add rooms. Taylor Hall went to the Boston Bruins for a second-round pick and he’s been gangbustered for that team since joining – the Bruins just eliminated the Washington Capitals on Sunday night. Hall was probably only watching the Bruins, so it’s probably fair to suggest that the Oilers haven’t really had much luck here, but that’s not quite the point. Holland hinted that there had never even been consideration for Hall as the Oilers tried to figure out what action to take.
This is just one example, as Holland could have added a striker in the top six. It would have cost the team a prospect and potentially a prospect that has a better future with the organization than a hire would have, but Holland didn’t see this as good asset management. Frankly there wasn’t a lot of buzz, the Oilers were close to anything in that regard.
He chose not to add knowing what most insiders and fans have been doing; which is that the Oilers are superstar heavy and not very deep.
Is this a good or a bad look at the CEO?
If the Oilers are knocked out by a team they played 7-2 against in the regular season, that won’t be a good look. If Edmonton is swept away by the Jets in four games, fans will ask for a head roll. But, is it on GM? Or is it on the players? Plus, was doing little on the deadline the right call if this team wasn’t ready?
It’s fair to say Holland should have done a lot more than adding minor pieces. At the same time, it’s fair to say that his hands were tied with the money he had this last offseason and that he was waiting until this offseason to really put his fingerprints on this team.
Where was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins during this series? Where are Alex Chiasson and James Neal – the two most seasoned Oilers in the playoffs? Why hasn’t Kailer Yamamoto been the same player this season as last season? It is becoming clear that this team either needs to step up or Holland was right in his assessment.
Considering he’s set to make some big changes this summer, let’s hope it’s less about the GM and more about the players.
Jim Parsons is a freelance writer who covers the Edmonton Oilers and articles on news and rumors here at The Hockey Writers.
You can also catch him writing on NHLtradetalk.com, The Sportster and hosting weekly video castings, THW News and Rumors Rundown, as well as Oilers Overtime.
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