The Worst of Ken Holland in Detroit

Last week, I looked at Ken Holland’s best moves in Detroit. Holland had a Hall of Fame run in Detroit. He won three Stanley Cups over 22 years as Detroit’s general manager. Holland had a ton of success, but that wasn’t without mistakes along the way. Trying to prolong a legendary playoff streak comes with consequences. Detroit finally accepted their need to rebuild, but it didn’t come before some poor decisions. I’m only including moves in the salary-cap era because Holland won’t have the same luxury as Oilers GM.

Big contracts to veterans

Holland will be familiar with Edmonton’s difficult cap situation because Detroit is in a similar position. Holland gave long-term deals to Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Frans Nielsen, Danny DeKeyser, Jonathan Ericsson, Johan Franzen, and Stephen Weiss.

The Weiss contract was one of Holland’s worst transactions. Detroit bought out Weiss out just two years into his five-year contract. Holland gave Weiss $4.9 million per year. Weiss scored 29 points in 79 career games with the Red Wings.

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Abdelkader got seven years at $4.25 million after a couple of 40-point seasons riding shotgun with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Abdelkader hasn’t scored more than 35 points three years into the contract.

Nielsen and Helm were part of the group that received giant contracts given in free agency on July 1st, 2016. Nielsen might be the best of the bunch. Troy Brouwer’s already been bought out. David Backes is routinely healthy scratched. Holland will be tasked with ridding the Oilers of Milan Lucic’s contract.

The Kyle Quincey ordeal

You’re bound to hear a bunch about development and ‘overripening’ prospects with Holland as Oilers general manager. Giving prospects a bunch of time in the minors isn’t a bad thing. The Oilers have rushed too many players, but not playing players when they’re ready means you don’t know what you have. Sometimes you lose those players on waivers trying to sneak them to the minors like Detroit did with defenceman Kyle Quincey in 2008. Quincey played 21 minutes a night and scored 38 points for Los Angeles that season.

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Giving away a top-four defenceman on waivers hurts. Trading a first-round draft pick for that same defenceman four years later hurts a little more. Quincey was just 26 and would play 250 games for Detroit in a top-four role before being shipped to New Jersey at the deadline in 2017.

Oh, and the first-round pick the Red Wings sent to the Lightning for Quincey was used on goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Deadline deals

Holland’s moved solid prospects for aging veterans, which is standard good teams at the trade deadline.

Holland traded center Calle Jarnkrok, a 2014 second-round pick, and Patrick Eaves to Nashville for David Legwand. Legwand had 11 points in 22 games down the stretch with Detroit and zero points in five playoff games.

Holland traded Mattias Janmark, Mattias Backman, and a 2015 second-round pick to Dallas for Erik Cole. Cole had 6 points in 11 games before going down with a season-ending spine injury.

Jarnkrok and Janmark aren’t world beaters, but they’re solid middle-six guys on cheap contracts. Replace Abdelkader and Helm with Janrkrok and Janmark and suddenly you have a ton of cap space to use.

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  • Spydyr

    In typical Oiler fashion during the Katz era the team has acquired personal for too much money and with their best years behind them. In the case of Holland ten years behind them.

  • Ken Holland

    Preliminary Off Season Game Plan:

    – Trade Benning to TOR for Brown
    – Trade Lucic to VAN for Eriksson
    – Trade Russell, JP and a 2nd to PIT for Kessel
    – Trade Brodziak and a 4th to OTT for Z Smith
    – Trade Gagner and a 3rd to OTT for Pageau

    – Pirri for 1 year $1 mill
    – Tanev for 3 years $3 mill
    – Mrazek for 2 years $3 mill

    Draisaitl – McDavid – Kassian
    Eriksson – Nuge – Kessel
    Pirri – Pageau – Tanev
    Smith – Khaira – Brown

    Klefbom – Larsson
    Nurse – Bouchard
    Sekera – Jones

    Kessel 6.75 x 3 years
    Zack Smith 3.25 x 2 years
    Jean Gabriel Pageau 3.1 x 1 year
    Vincent Trocheck 4.75 × 3 years

    Pittsburgh saves 14 million dollars real cash, plus JP gives them a potential long term winger for Malkin or Crosby for their eventual rebuild.

    Senators(Melnyk) save 5.4 million in cash on the Brodziak trade, and have already waived Smith, so this trade would be a no brainer.

    Gagner for Pageau is even salary and term, the Sens get a 3rd round pick for their rebuild.

    Benning for Brown, Lucic for Eriksson is even salary and makes sense for both teams.

    I would do my best to pick up Trochek over Kessel and would look at swapping Varlamov for Mrazek and Chiasson for Pirri depending on the cost.

    The trades add up to +3 million in salary.
    The free agent signings add up to +7 million.

    The goaltending and bottom six is much improved. Kessel improves the powerplay and adds some much needed proven scoring to the top six.

    Team overall is much faster, with more skill spread out across the lineup.

      • Ken Holland

        3 of the trades are very minor. Its really only a couple moves.

        You dont think we can get a scoring winger like Skinner or Hoffman for JP and a 2nd? Pittsburgh saves 14 million dollars with this move and can use the cap space on signing a replacement winger that actually gets along with Malkin. I cant see any team offering more for Kessel considering contract, term and age.

        Zach Smith was put on waivers, im pretty sure Melnyk will want to save 5.4 mil in dumping him. We could get Smith for free if we wanted.

        Pageau is a rental, we can throw in a prospect to sweeten the deal. Ottawa will be trading him.

        Lucic for Eriksson i may not even want to do, Lucic scores as much and is much more physical. Eriksson does not get along with the coach so Canucks would be motivated to trade him. We may have to retain 1 million, but considering the situation it may be a one for one.

        These trades are all pretty realistic.

        • russ99a

          JP doesn’t have a lot of trade value right now, I’d think it would be difficult to get that kind of return for JP and #8. My idea is JP and #8 to Tampa for J.T. Miller, #30 and a good prospect.

      • Ken Holland

        Forget how we aqcuire the players. The value if the guys listed are lower than some of the talent around the league without poor ownership or off ice issues.

        Target LA, New York, Ottawa, Detroit and Anaheim. Teams that value picks and prospects more than cap space and real nhlers.

        Trade JP and a pick for scoring winger.

        Trade Russell for a pick.

        Trade Lucic, retain after July 1 or include a couple picks.

        Sign Tanev and a reliable backup.

        Trade a

        What do you think of the lineup?

  • KootenayDan

    Every gm in the league will take calculated risks some work others not at least not bonehead moves like Chiarelli made. As posted before Holland has left Detroit in good shape going into next season with 14 million in cap space. We have a smart respected gm running the club now and I’m all in for him bringing the Oil back to respectability.

  • OilCan2

    That last parargraph is classic WHAT IF. It goes like this: WHAT IF we replaced Lucic and Russell with Benson and Bouchard and the rookies racked up 30 + points each?

    • TruthHurts98

      Not sure either is ready for the NHL grueling schedule, Benson didn’t do much in the playoffs when Marody went down. Bouchard will get burned defensively, but could help offensively. If he’s a minus player being a 6th dman it’s not giving him enough time to develop properly. I think Holland will have both in the AHL again this year. This team doesn’t have a realistic shot at the playoffs this upcoming season unless Holland transforms himself into Houdini and makes cap hell vanish. Don’t see that happening.

  • chezzychez

    Kinda seems like Holland’s moves both good and bad are pretty meh. The good moves are not spectacular and the mistakes aren’t ones that totally sewer a team. He makes vanilla moves. Would’ve been nice over the last few years to have that approach when Chia was gifted all the talent and blew it up for some reason. Holland has patience and that’s why he’s been successful. Oiler’s fans don’t at this point so I can’t see his approval rating going up in the next couple years unless he gets rid of the looch contract to start…. actually, on second thought, I can see his approval rating going up if he wins a trade. Just one. For the fans. Please.

  • Oilman99

    Holland made those deals for veterans in an effort to try to get another cup before his veterans were totally out of gas. Unfortunately it didn’t work out.

    • cityofchampions

      Agreed. His “bad” trades were a last shot at glory, trading prospects for vets, and I imagine this was mandated by ownership to keep the playoff streak going. Even those trades though aren’t disaster trades though…they hurt Detroits depth but none of those guys are stars. Trading Larkin would have been a bad trade, but he had enough sense not to do that.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    This article is much smaller than I thought it would be – that’s good news!!! lol…

    I can live with his mistakes, especially if he’s learned from them. Chiarelli’s Cagiulla for 2 years of Brandon Manning on the other hand…I cannot.