Ken Holland’s Blueline Recipe

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Liam Horrobin
1 year ago
We all have a type.
Some of us like blondes.
Some of us like humour.
Some of us like a good hard working partner.
Then, there is Ken Holland who likes defencemen that are over six feet tall.
Throughout his tenure with the Oilers, Holland has gradually put his stamp on this team. The first was to become a consistent playoff team, the second was to become a threat in the playoffs and now it looks to build a monstrous blueline.
After acquiring Mattias Ekholm from the Nashville Predators, the Oilers’ blueline is looking more like a wall of Moai statues on Easter Island. The seven defencemen that lined up against the Arizona Coyotes stand at 6’1″ or taller with the shortest being Brett Kulak.
Mattias Ekholm 6’4” – 216 lbs
Evan Bouchard 6’3” – 194 lbs
Darnell Nurse 6’4” – 220 lbs
Vincent Desharnais 6’6” – 216 lbs
Brett Kulak 6’1” – 196 lbs
Philip Broberg 6’3” – 198 lbs
Cody Ceci 6’2” – 209 lbs
Not only does the NHL lineup look like this, but the Oilers have only one defenceman under six feet tall signed to the organization. That player is Cam Dineen, who they acquired from the Coyotes in the Nick Bjudstad trade.
Holland has not even drafted a player under six feet in the past three drafts. It is a small sample size with only four players but fits the mould of what Holland clearly once:
  • Nikita Yevseyev: 6’1″, 187 lbs
  • Luca Munzenberger: 6’2″, 190 lbs
  • Maximus Wanner: 6’3″, 184 lbs
  • Philip Broberg: 6’3″, 198 lbs
It is no coincidence that Holland built his blueline this way. On Holland’s three Stanley Cup-winning Detroit Red Wings teams, only four defencemen stood under six feet: Steven Duchesne, Brett Lebda, Derek Meech and Brian Rafalski.
It is clearly a recipe that has worked for Holland in the past. We like to mock him when he references his Detroit days; however, at some point, we need to respect that he actually had a lot of success there. Having a blueline that is big is not something that is unfamiliar with the NHL either, Tampa Bay has been doing this for a few years now.
With that said, Holland has built the recipe for a Stanley Cup-contending blueline. You have your two studs in Mattias Ekholm and Darnell Nurse, your offensive talent in Evan Bouchard and your reliable defensive players in Brett Kulak, Cody Ceci and Vincent Desharnais, and then your wildcard in Philip Broberg.
We shall have to see if the ingredients in the Holland blueline recipe bake up a nice pie, but for now, it looks like a very promising start as we put it in the oven.

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