Holland on Oilers Trading for a Rental: “I’m Not Doing That”

Ken Holland met with the media on Tuesday morning, mainly because he was told a few members of the media had questions. Noting he figured it would be better just answer them all at once, there was no introduction, other than to suggest they fire away.

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Among the topics discussed, Holland touched on the current roster, the status of the head coach, his take on reclamation projects, and whether or not he’s going all-in on the season and would be looking at a rental before the NHL trade deadline.

General Holland Media Notes

The first question had to do with coaching and Holland’s belief in firing a coach mid-season. The GM confirmed he doesn’t “believe in it”, but does understand there are certain situations and times that may require a manager make a change. While he didn’t come right out and say as much, for Oilers fans looking to see Dave Tippett sent packing, Holland isn’t making that move.

NHL Seattle Dave Tippett
NHL Seattle Senior Advisor Dave Tippett (Photo by Christopher Mast/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The second question had to do with the GM’s opinion of reclamation projects. Holland did confirm that he had spoken with Evander Kane‘s agent Dan Milstein as the two know each other quite well and Holland noted it was his job to explore everything. He didn’t give much more detail on where his thoughts were on Kane as an addition, other than to hint (via other comments about the current roster) that the player certainly wouldn’t be viewed as an answer to the Oilers’ current woes.

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The big takeaway from the presser was the confirmation that Holland is not going heavy after an NHL Trade Deadline rental this season.

“I’m Not Doing That”, Says Holland

When asked about his willingness to trade a big asset — potentially the team’s first-round pick or a high-end prospect — for a rental, Holland shot down that notion pretty quickly. He noted that it would be different if he was adding a player that would be with the team over the next few seasons, but he’s not about to give the team a short-term bump, only to find himself holding two additional press conferences: one when they add the player, then another when the team needs to explain where they’ll look to replace him.

Holland rhetorically asked, “Why would I trade a top prospect or a top pick for a rental who will only help short term. I understand Connor is 25 and Leon is 26 so I’d trade for someone who will be here longer, but not for a short-term fix.”

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He wasn’t asked if he would change his mind in the event the Oilers start winning again and are making a push, but the tone of his comments suggests Holland isn’t looking at a player like Ben Chiarot, Tomas Hertl, Marc-Andre Fleury or otherwise. If he’s making a move, he seems to be leaning more towards someone with a contract like Jakob Chychrun or Carey Price… as they still have term left on their deals.

** Authors Note: Holland did not hint that he was going after either player. These names are just an example of the types of trades that are rumored to be out there for players who have term left and are not considered rentals.

“The Answer Is in the Locker Room”

Holland says he thinks the Oilers have been competitive and they’ll start winning. More than that, he believes the growth needs to come from inside the room. The real addition will be the improved play of names like Ryan McLeod, Kailer Yamamoto, Philip Broberg and others. He even went so far as to name some of the younger prospects that the Oilers expect to have a bright future.

Ryan McLeod Edmonton Oilers
Ryan McLeod, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Holland got a bit more lively towards the end of the press conference when talking about how the answer is in the Oilers locker room. He believes in this team and said that it’s hard to measure how good or how bad they actually are based on the way the season has gone to date. The Oilers were among the best teams in the NHL at the start of the season and have been among the worst over the past few weeks. The GM thinks this team is somewhere in between but he’s confident in the group and confident that they’re going to figure it out.

Potential Roster Changes

Clearly, based on his comments, Holland will continue to look at Kane. Beyond that, don’t expect much in the way of roster changes. He’s running with Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen in goal and he’s committed to players he gave long-term deals to over the summer, more than he is interested in adding pieces on a short-term basis.

As for moves to motivate this group, Holland pointed out that there have been seven coaches in 10 years in Edmonton and said, “You can’t just keep cycling through coaches.” He again pointed out the two extremes of this team (16-5 and 2-9-2) but says the group is competitive. While the media and fans look at the win/loss record, he’s breaking down those wins and losses to see how they occurred. At the end of the day, he believes the group is playing hard for the coach and each other and things will turn around.