In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, Ken Holland spoke with the media after Monday’s NHL Trade Deadline came and went and both his comments, tone and body language seemed to suggest this was not the year Edmonton had planned to do anything big. He discussed the addition of Dmitry Kulikov, when he’ll play and what he expects to see. He discussed where the trade pushes other players on the team and then answered (kind of) questions about Taylor Hall.
Holland Learning From Past Mistakes
When he was asked about his thought process going into this year’s deadline, Holland discussed how he took what happened at last season’s deadline and applied it what he was prepared to do this season. “I made a decision last year at the deadline to spend lots of futures in trying to go on a run last year.” As he pointed out, that didn’t work out well because of a pandemic no one saw coming.
“When you make some decisions in life, they’re going affect future decisions in life, and I certainly made some decisions that affected my decision going forward. Those were the factors that I think weighed on me as we went through the trade deadline and made only one acquisition.”
He noted he had some conversations about other NHL forwards, but the way he talked, many are wondering if Holland just doesn’t think this team has the right mix to win the Stanley Cup. And, if not, why waste assets at this year’s deadline to be bounced in the first or second round? In his defense, Holland did note that the Oilers are playing some strong hockey, so it’s not as though he showed a lack of confidence in the team.
Instead, saying you can’t be in all in every year, Holland hopes he can be busier next season and hopes the team is a buyer because it means you’re in the playoffs. “Maybe we’ll try to make bigger noise.”
The Kulikov Trade
When asked about what’s next after trading for Kulikov, Holland said the defenseman will not play the next four games on the Oilers schedule but the hope is that he’ll be available for the game against Winnipeg on April 26th and after the Oilers have a four-day rest.
As for where he’ll fit into the lineup and where it leaves Caleb Jones and William Lagesson, Holland talked about how good the teams are in the North Division and while the two younger players have played well, they don’t have the experience Kulikov does. And, because Slater Koekkoek is still a question mark for the club, Holland felt they needed someone with experience and size and he felt they needed to get deeper.
He said the coaches will decide where he fits, but it should be interesting to see if head coach Dave Tippett elects to put two defense-first blueliners together or he splits up a pairing like Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie. I spoke with a couple other THW contributors on our Oilers OverTime show yesterday about this very topic and my sense is Tippett may shuffled these pairings often based on in-game situations.
What About Evan Bouchard?
When asked if he would contemplate sending defeneseman Evan Bouchard down to the AHL — now that the Oilers have more depth on their blue line — Holland said that his job as the manager is to try and put together a group of players that can compete, the coaching staff will decided where they fit.
Holland said Bouchard that he’s still got huge hopes for Bouchard and said he’s a big part of the team. While he may reassess the situation in a couple of weeks, he doesn’t anticipate sending him down to Bakersfield the way things are going right now.
Were the Oilers in On Taylor Hall?
Noting he couldn’t get into details on players from other teams, Holland did acknowledge that there was nothing brewing on the Taylor Hall front. He seemed to suggest there was never serious talks on adding the player and he certainly hadn’t looked at getting creative and involving a third team to facilitate a trade.
Talk was that Hall only wanted to go to Boston, so even if the Oilers were interested, it probably wouldn’t have mattered. The New York Islanders, Vegas Golden Knights and St. Louis Blues were the teams rumored to be the most open to Hall coming in.