Rumors Surface Regarding an Oilers General Manager Change

According to Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, the Edmonton Oilers could make a change at the general manager position. The Oilers were eliminated from the playoffs in a disappointing fashion on Sunday and that could certainly lead to speculation about what comes next for the team, but considering the Oilers had a strong regular season and Ken Holland made one of the shrewdest moves at the NHL Trade Deadline, it’s hard to envision why the Oilers would want to move on.

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That said, the rumored change is less about splitting from Holland, and more about promoting someone they believe will be a hot commodity over the summer. That could be the promotion of former Oiler, now a current special advisor on the hockey operations side, Steve Staois.

Ken Holland Did a Solid Job

The Oilers aren’t looking to lose Holland’s experience or expertise in making a change. He’s won before, he’s made the Oilers a much deeper and better team since he took over, and he’s made savvy deals to keep the team in contention and become a bonafide Stanley Cup contender every year.

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

This year alone, Holland moved Dmitri Samorukov for Klim Kostin in a trade that might have been among the more undervalued deals this season. After that, he pulled the trigger on a massive deadline deal that saw Mattias Ekholm come to the Oilers from Nashville in exchange for picks, prospects, and Tyson Barrie. Again, it was a move that fit extremely well, even if some fans will look back at how far the Oilers got in the postseason and wonder if it was worth the assets given up.

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Holland wasn’t perfect, but he certainly made a case for himself when it comes to giving the man his due and suggestions he’s been the best GM this team has had in a decade.

Where Will Holland Go?

So, if Holland is no longer GM, what’s the plan? According to Seravalli, speculation is that Holland might move up into the President position in Edmonton. He currently holds the positions of General Manager and President of Hockey Operations, with Stuart Ballantyne as the acting President and COO of the Oilers. If Seravalli’s assertions are accurate, the hint here is that Ballantyne would become solely the COO and Holland would take over as President.

This would be a promotion for Holland who signed with the team ahead of the 2019-20 campaign. Assuming he signed a five-year deal, he’s in the last year of that contract. He could be moved and extended, as the team was likely going to need to decide on his future ahead of the 2023-24 off-season. The alternative is to bring Staois in with the promise of promotion the moment Holland’s current deal expires. Both could use this coming season as a transition period.

Why Steve Staois?

Steve Staois is well-liked, not only in the Oilers community but around the NHL. He currently serves as a special advisor to the Edmonton Oilers hockey operations staff with a focus on player development and he’s being viewed as an up-and-coming executive who is quite smart and will be coveted around the NHL. In fact, Seravalli notes that the Ottawa Senators will be extremely interested in Staois if a certain group of owners is successful in purchasing the team.

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Seravalli noted:

“If Micheal Andlauer is the successful bidder to purchase the Ottawa Senators, formerly the owner of the Hamilton Bulldogs where he found a lot of success with Staios, there will be a real pull to bring Staios with him as the next GM of the Senators. I think the Oilers want to get out in front of that.”

In other words, the Oilers might be looking for a GM of the future, they believe Staois could be that guy and Holland will eventually move up or on anyway. Before another team can scoop in and get Staois, the Oilers want to make sure they don’t miss out on their guy.