It’s an overcast Saturday morning here in Edmonton and it’ll be a while before we’re able to watch our beloved Edmonton Oilers play hockey again, which has given me plenty of time to think about what’s to come for the franchise as we made our way into the offseason.
CAN ALEX STALOCK STEAL A JOB?
One of the weirder things about the 2021 NHL season was the need to carry three goalies just in case of injury, which is why the Oilers grabbed Alex Stalock on waivers in early March. Despite not playing a single game for Edmonton after being claimed, Stalock stayed with the team for the rest of the year and I wonder what the plan will be for him going forward into 2021-22. With one year remaining on his contract that carries a $786K AAV, I could certainly see Stalock working himself into the mix and stealing the job as a quality backup at a bargain bin price if Holland decides to punt Kostco via trade or buyout. I mean, is it that unreasonable to think that he could earn the gig over Koskinen, whose career stats are slightly worse than what Stalock has been able to do over his time in the bigs? Check it out:
HOW MUCH SAY DOES THE LEADERSHIP GROUP HAVE?
In his year-end press conference, Ken Holland mentioned a few times that he would consult with his core players to get their feedback on where this team is at, and his comment made me wonder how much the feedback they give will actually affect his game plan as we roll into the offseason. If we’re talking a percentage, does he alter his plan by 20%? 10%? More? Where is the line on how much Holland would bend based on a request from his best players is I guess what I’m asking? Take Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for example, if Connor, Leon, and the rest of the boys make a pitch for him to stay — they’ve pumped his tires plenty of times this season so it’s not exactly unreasonable to think they will — would that be enough to soften the organization’s stance on their offer to keep him? Should it even matter? Personally, I like the idea of giving your players some say in how things are run but I wonder how much of it is lip service as compared to actually making a difference. What’s your bet?
WILL WE SEE SOME TRADES?
Now that the Oilers got bumped from the playoffs in a heartbreaking fashion, there have been countless ideas from fans and pundits about what Ken Holland can do to change things up before the start of next season. Unfortunately, anyone that has been an Oilers fan for any length of time has seen these types of conversations countless times before, and until this team actually improves in a real way beyond McDavid and Draisaitl getting better, I doubt that they’re going to go away any time soon. This year, however, I wonder if we might actually see a sizeable move to go along with the speculation? Ken Holland has been at the helm for a couple of years now, which is plenty of time to evaluate the group and get to know his players, and I think the pressure is starting to mount for him to push this team forward despite him saying he didn’t feel that way in his year-end presser. With a flat cap likely pushing contract values down for a lot of players that are seeking new deals, I think there will be a good opportunity to score some talent on the cheap, but I also hope this is the offseason when we’ll finally be able to take advantage of some cap-strapped teams with a prospect/pick for player type of move.
THE FIRST ROUND PICK
If ever there was a year when I think the Oilers should be open to trading their first round pick it’s in a draft when many of the kids were unable to play as much as normal. I’m not saying that there won’t be plenty of quality prospects taken in the first round — we know there are going to be good players available — but I wonder if the abnormality of the season as a result of COVID would increase the likelihood of teams moving their picks for a player that can help now. If you’re Ken Holland, would you trade the first+ a prospect if it meant you could get someone that can help the top-six in October? I would.
Before I get started with my nonsense Ovi fantasy, I’m going to acknowledge off the jump that this won’t be happening and that I do not actually believe Alexander Ovechkin has even a 0.5% chance of becoming an Edmonton Oiler, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still fun to think about. A few buddies and I were talking about Ovechkin’s long-ass deal finally being over with the Capitals and while I certainly expect him to extend with them sooner than later, how much fun it would be to have a true shooter like that to play with Connor McDavid? Could you imagine how many assists McDiesel would rack up if he had someone that was born to score on his wing? Could you imagine the force that line would be at 5v5? What about the powerplay? In my head, I’m picturing Connor with the option of dishing to Ovechkin or Draisaitl for a one-timer from their office and the thought of it is enough to assume the NHL would make it their business to ensure the Oilers never get to go to the man advantage because it would be as close to a sure thing this league has ever seen.