Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland joined Jason Gregor on TSN 1260 Friday and had a lot to say when it comes to the unique 2020 NHL playoff schedule, the bubble, scouting, and strategies heading into Saturday’s contest against the Chicago Blackhawks.
But, perhaps the most interesting comments came in regards to prospect Jesse Puljuarvi.
Holland Provides Update on Puljujarvi
There was news this week that the Oilers had been speaking to disgruntled forward Jesse Puljujarvi. Reports were that perhaps Puljujarvi was not as disgruntled as he was this time last season and has developed a change of heart towards the team. Holland was able to provide an update on his talks with the prospect.
Holland noted that last year, he was informed Puljujarvi had no desire to play for the Oilers but he says now of the forward, “he is certainly talking a different tone.”
“I told him on the conference call that in 10 years he will look back at his decision to go back to Finland and play and be happy about it. It allowed him to play a lot and regain confidence.”
Considering how ugly this situation has gotten, that’s an incredibly well-thought-out thing to say. Instead of throwing anyone under the bus, Holland not only called the past water under the bridge but seemingly turned a negative into a positive, making the player feel as though his decision to play overseas wasn’t a bad one.
As for what Holland sees in the player should Puljujarvi actually work his way back to the team, he said:
“Honestly I didn’t scout him much in his draft year. We weren’t drafting high. He is still a young player, and it is rare to find guys who are 6’4″ with skill. Most players don’t start to live up to expectations until they are 22 or 23 so we’ll see.”
It’s easy to notice Holland was very savvy in the way he spoke to his winger (and the agent) and you can tell the veteran GM has a much better handle on how to negotiate a return than his predecessor did.
Holland on Scouting Other Players
Holland noted that with 12 teams under one roof, he intends to take full advantage of the opportunities presented in his NHL bubble to see everything he can.
In regards to scouting other players, Holland said he’s been doing plenty of scouting since entering the bubble and has watched every game. He noted, “I have seen every game in our hub live, and I plan to watch them all in the playoffs.” He added, “It is a unique opportunity, with two and three games a day here. You can see a lot of players.”
As for what he’s looking for and why it is important for the team to be watching as much as possible, he explained:
“When coaches scout they are scouting a team’s systems; how they play in neutral zone, what they do on special teams or how they exit and enter zones. I’m scouting individual players and right now I can see players I wouldn’t unless we were playing them.”
The Oilers Goaltending Situation
On who the Oilers might lean on in net, Holland noted that it’s a great problem to have that both netminders are performing so well. He explained:
“If you go with one goalie that is a good thing, because it means he is playing really well. We will need more than 12 forwards, more than six D-men and likely both our goalies if we are going to have a deep run. I know who is starting tomorrow.”
Other than that, he wouldn’t tip his hand. He has to love that both Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith look sharp.
Holland’s Overall Impression of the Bubble
Holland said the experience is quite unique, but that everyone is excited and there are opportunities this bubble environment creates that GM’s wouldn’t otherwise have.
“Certainly it’s strange. Nobody has ever dealt with anything like this before.” With that mind, early indications are that Holland is seizing every opportunity.
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Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”