Oilers News & Rumors: Smith, Holland, Eichel, Lowe…

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, there is news on the injury status of goaltender Mike Smith. Meanwhile, should Ken Holland get early consideration as a potential GM of the Year candidate? The NHL is asking if there’s a better line in the league than the one Vegas has just put together, which, of course, Oilers fans had an opinion on. Finally, the franchise will retire Kevin Lowe’s jersey number tonight prior to their game against the New York Rangers.

Mike Smith Close to Returning for Oilers

Mikko Koskinen will get the start in the net again for the Oilers on Friday, but Mike Smith is apparently very close to returning and ready to go if and when called upon. Head coach Dave Tippett said on Thursday night, “He’s close… we’re not going to put him in a bad situation or set anything back. He wants to see where it is in the morning.”

Mike Smith Edmonton Oilers
Mike Smith, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Fortunately for the Oilers, Koskinen has been extremely solid and the Oilers haven’t missed Smith and are able to give him the time he needs. Tippett also said that he doesn’t love the fact Stuart Skinner has been sitting around and not playing and that he might get him a game here soon if Smith isn’t quite ready. Skinner will likely see one of the games as the Oilers go on the road and have a back-to-back on November 11th and 12th.

Should Holland Get GM of the Year Consideration?

ESPN has Bill Armstrong of the Arizona Coyotes as an early favorite for GM of the Year based solely on the fact that he’s given the Coyotes the best chance to earn the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NHL Draft. Their record this season certainly suggests that’s true. That said, the GM of the Year Award shouldn’t be given for that reason.

Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland
Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

Holland certainly deserves to be considered based on the numerous changes he made this offseason and how most of his changes have paid off so far. Zach Hyman has been an incredible add, Derek Ryan has fit well on the Oilers’ third line and Tyson Barrie looks like a great depth option with the emergence of Evan Bouchard. The trade of Ethan Bear for Warren Foegele might turn out to be a good one or a bad one based on what Bear does in Carolina, but there’s no doubt about how useful a player Foegele is. Duncan Keith and Cody Ceci have performed well in a second-pairing role.

If there’s one area of concern it’s that still there it is the goaltending as Holland chose not to upgrade it.

Pacific Division Gets More Interesting After Eichel Trade

The NHL posted a tweet after Vegas traded for Jack Eichel and asked if there’s a better line in the league than the one the Golden Knights will be able to deploy when Eichel, Mark Stone, and Max Pacioretty are all healthy. The immediate responses seemed to be that not only is it not the best line in the game, it’s not even the best line in their own division.

Oilers fans (and many non-Oilers fans) were quick to respond to the post saying that Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Jesse Puljujarvi are a better line. Many said that anyone you put with Connor and Leon immediately make it a better line and it’s hard to argue that fact.

All three players for Vegas are good, but McDavid and Draisaitl combined for 189 points last season. When you add up Eichel’s, Stone’s, and Pacioretty’s points from last year — acknowledging that there were injuries that affected the totals — you get 130 points. Even if all three were healthy all of last year, it’s hard to imagine they would have matched the totals no matter who Tippett might have placed on that Oilers line.

Related: Oilers Should Target Jack Campbell If Deal Deteriorates With Maple Leafs

There were some fans in Edmonton hoping the Eichel-to-Calgary rumors might be true so that the Battle of Alberta would get kicked up a notch, but Eichel being in Vegas still puts him in the Pacific Division and the Oilers will play against him a lot more frequently.

Lowe to Have Jersey Retired Friday Night

Congratulations go out to Kevin Lowe who was not only the first player drafted by the Oilers organization but also notched the first goal in franchise history. He will have his jersey retired tonight before the Oilers battle against the New York Rangers Friday night. Tippett said the team would take in the ceremony from the bench before warmups, skate following, then play.

The new Mayor of Edmonton proclaimed that November 5th, 2021 is hereby Kevin Lowe Day in Edmonton, Alberta. Amarjeet Sohi added, “Thank you for your countless contributions to Edmonton, Kevin.”