On Wednesday morning, Ken Holland spoke to the media ahead of the start of training camp and while we’ve already posted a bunch of recaps of the presser (COVID complications and not being done yet) there are a few questions that stuck out to me, and I would love your help to come up with the answers.
ALEX STALOCK’S FUTURE
Arguably the most shocking moment from Ken Holland’s presser came when he revealed that Alex Stalock will be unlikely to play in 2021-22 because of a heart condition, which was news that none of us were expecting. I know that Stalock had to have his heart monitored ahead of the 56-game shortened season after he tested positive for COVID, but to now hear that he may not play again is a rough piece of news for a guy that’s seemingly been hit by a real run of bad luck. For many Oilers fans, Stalock was a hopeful option to come in and steal a job between the pipes or at least a handful of starts, and while this latest update is certainly a kick to the shin for our depth chart, I can’t help but feel horrible for the guy on a human level. Not only has he had to sit on the sidelines since March 8th of 2020, but now he’s facing what could be an early retirement which has to be a mind funk like you can’t even imagine. I guess the question here is whether or not we ever see Alex Stalock playing at the NHL level again? Be it here or elsewhere, I’ll be cheering for Stalock to make a comeback at some point in the future. Get well, sir.
WHAT HAPPENS WITH JOSH ARCHIBALD?
"It will probably be around 30+" -Holland on how many games the unvaccinated player will miss
— Oilersnation.com, Oily Since ‘07 (@OilersNation) September 22, 2021
After wrapping up his press conference, Ken Holland jumped on Oilers Now and let Josh Archibald’s name slip (worst kept secret anyway) when asked about what will happen with the unvaccinated player on his roster, and it got me to thinking about what will happen to Archie’s place within the lineup and organization. I mean, the guy is absolutely an NHL player and I think we’d all agree that he can be a valuable piece of the team, but I’d also suggest that he’s not irreplaceable either, which makes this situation a tricky one. If he will actually miss 30+ games this season because of being unable to travel with the team, does he bring enough to the table to keep on the roster knowing you’ll only be able to play him in 60ish% of the games? Would it make more sense to find an everyday player to fill that spot? I don’t know the answer, that’s why I’m asking?
For unvaccinated players who cannot be with team due to travel/quarantine rules or COVID infections, they are not paid. For cap purposes, this is similar to players suspended without pay, where the team does not incur a cap hit while the player is suspended without pay
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) September 22, 2021
According to PuckPedia, unvaccinated players that can’t travel with the team won’t count against the cap and aren’t paid as a result, so that makes me wonder if there’d be an appetite to simply suspend Archibald and recoup the savings? I mean, it’s not exactly news that the Oilers are up against the cap so it may make sense to clear that room and find someone else that can do the job. That said, I do love Archibald as a player and think the Oilers would be better with him on the roster, but what I’ll be interested in finding out is if the Oilers think he’s irreplaceable enough to keep him around even though he won’t be available a third of the time.
HOW MUCH DOES A WEEK OF TRAINING CAMP MATTER?
To clarify, sounds like Duncan Keith received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine which is administered in the US. Thus him having to wait until next Friday to get the all clear to join the group in training camp after returning to Canada.
— Tom Gazzola (@TomGazzola) September 22, 2021
Another thing that’s annoying a bunch of Oilers fans right now is the fact that Duncan Keith can’t participate in the first week of training camp as he remains in quarantine after getting back from the States for his COVID shot. According to Tom Gazzola, Keith went down to the US to get the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine over having to get two doses of the other ones along with the required waiting period, and while I’m absolutely happy he ended up getting the jab in the end, I can understand why some folks are frustrated that he’ll miss the first few days of camp. From my perspective, however, I wonder how much missing the first week of training camp will really matter when you consider that by the time he comes back (Holland says next Friday) there will still be a handful of pre-season games left to play, which is more time than anyone got to prepare in the 56-game season. So how much does this first week of training camp really matter in the grand scheme of things? I honestly don’t know, but I can tell you with certainty that having Keith miss these tune-up games is a lot easier to swallow than if he was going to miss 30+ games like Archibald is going to.