The Edmonton Oilers appear to be all in this season in their quest for a Stanley Cup championship. With superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl playing at the top of their games, and with an excellent start to the 2021-22 season, expectations are high inside the Oilers locker room, with management and the fan base. With two recent home games featuring spectacular goals by McDavid to help the Oilers come back and win against the New York Rangers and the Winnipeg Jets, belief continues to grow for the Oilers franchise and their hungry fanbase.
In a recent interview on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer, Oilers general manager Ken Holland talked about the current status of the team and mentioned how he could put his next first-round draft pick in play for a trade for the right player or combination of players.
Where Do the Oilers Need the Most Help?
Looking at the current roster, there seems to be a need for help on defence, adding more grit to the fourth line and solidifying the goaltending. If Oilers’ young netminder Stuart Skinner continues his strong play, you have to wonder what the Oilers’ brass will do.
And when injured goaltender Mike Smith and winger Dylan Holloway return, the decisions could be more difficult for Holland, assistant GM Keith Gretzky and the Oilers staff of pro scouts. Knowing that the Oilers are dangerously close to the ceiling of the salary cap, they have to hope that some teams would be willing to retain salary in a trade or possibly take on salary from the Oilers. But it’s slim pickings in that department.
One of the targets the Oilers could be looking at on defence is Montreal Canadiens defenceman Ben Chiarot. And recent rumours have surfaced in terms of bringing in goaltending help, including potential scenarios involving Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-André Fleury, as well as injured Boston Bruins veteran goaltender Tukka Rask. Early season talk about goaltender John Gibson has been quiet now that the Anaheim Ducks are in the thick of the playoff race in the Pacific Division. The best hope the Oilers have for immediate improvement to their forward group is that Holloway comes back and contributes right away. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of immediate support down on the farm in Bakersfield, so you can be sure the Oilers would be looking at some low salary grit that could come in via trade or the waiver wire.
Holland Needs To Hit a Home Run at the Trade Deadline
Love him or hate him, Holland has steadily improved the Oilers since being named general manager. But can he match the incredible 2006 trade success achieved by former Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe? The transactions Lowe made in the 2005-06 season included adding Hall of Fame defenceman Chris Pronger as well as forwards Mike Peca at the beginning of the season. He also brought in defenceman Jaroslav Spacek in January and then added forward Sergei Samsonov and goaltender Dwayne Roloson close to the trade deadline.
These moves made all the difference in getting the Oilers to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2006, and hope runs deep that Holland can tinker with his roster just enough to repeat Lowe’s success in the 2005-06 season.
What Would Do You Do if You Are Ken Holland?
Oilers fans have a history of playing general manager; you just have to look at Twitter after a game for proof of that. If you were in Holland’s shoes, what trades would you consider making at the deadline knowing that your first-round draft pick could be in play? Would you trade the first overall pick? Keep in mind the tight salary cap and the fact that key players such as Jesse Puljujarvi need to be re-signed in the offseason. Your thoughts, as always, are welcomed in the comment section below.
D. Edward Bochon covers the Edmonton Oilers. His background is in marketing writing where he worked with the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Football Club (now known as the Elks), and the Edmonton Rush of the NLL.