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Ken Holland’s patient approach could pay off

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Liam Horrobin
5 months ago
Versus Tampa Bay on Thursday, Edmonton needed Stuart Skinner to be better in the third period. The blame lies with him for three of the goals the Bolts scored, resulting in Edmonton losing the game. What is unfair is calling Skinner a bad goaltender and someone who is part of the problem. That is false. 
 
If I told you that Jake Oettinger and Igor Shesterkin had worse numbers at 5-on-5 than Skinner, would you believe me? That’s probably not the case, but the truth is that goaltenders have bad patches. Another goaltender who has struggled through December is Mackenzie Blackwood, somebody everyone wants the Oilers to acquire. Granted, he’s on a poor team.
 
The point is, let’s not jump the gun on Skinner. Following the Tampa game, many overreacted, claiming he hadn’t stolen a game for the Oilers, suggesting he had done nothing positive for the team. Winning seven starts in a row and allowing zero goals versus Washington and then one against Winnipeg, Carolina and Chicago wasn’t enough to help the team win games. 
 
Ken Holland and his staff aim to find a reliable partner for Skinner over the next few weeks. Pickard has done well, and the loss against Florida wasn’t his fault, but he’s a stop-gap, and everybody knows it. 
 
A new name in trade rumours is Karel Vejmelka from the Arizona Coyotes. Still young at only 25, Vejmelka is an upcoming goaltender in the NHL but is being outplayed by Connor Ingram for the Yotes this season. Vejmelka is an upgrade over Pickard and Jack Campbell, but at what cost? 
 
Aside from his ability, he could be an option because Arizona is one of the few teams that can take on Campbell’s contract. At that point, according to Frank Seravalli, you find a way to make it work, which may cost you a 1st and 3rd round pick plus
 
Moving on from Campbell’s contract helps the team in every way. They could find more top-six scoring, possibly another defenceman or maybe a reliable third-line centre to move Ryan McLeod around the lineup more. 
 
However, the Vejmelka rumours only came to be over the weekend, so don’t expect any decision on him soon. It would be best if you didn’t hold your breath on a move from Ken Holland coming soon, either. 
 
Holland is famously known for his patience, and his most recent comments saying they’re elevating the goaltending position on a week-to-week basis would prove history to be true. Furthermore, by being patient and watching the scene a while longer, we are sure that means waiting for Campbell to improve to give him another chance. 
 
Is that the right move? Probably not, but we all know what’s around the corner. 
 
Patience may work for Holland in the trading scenario, however. Over the last ten-game stretch, we’ve all witnessed the Oilers winning games despite who’s between the pipes, good or bad. If the team can hold on and win a few more games, more doors will open.
 
Last season, nobody expected Mattias Ekholm to become available. Ekholm had just signed a new deal with the Nashville Predators, then all of a sudden, the tides shifted in Smashville, and the Big Swede was out the door. 
 
What if that happens again? 
 
Perhaps the Predators don’t come to terms with Saros on a new deal, and he’s now available. Maybe Minnesota won’t climb back into the playoff picture, and Marc-Andre Fleury is on the move. 
 
Things must trend in a good direction for Edmonton for the patience from Holland to work. I don’t love it, but the sky isn’t falling in Edmonton yet. Skinner is a good goalie that can win games and needs to be trusted. He’s not perfect, but neither is the team in front of him. 
 
The goaltender help will come, and if the team plays their cards right, it may even be better than they had initially hoped. 

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