Random Thoughts: Stuart Skinner, Dylan Holloway, and wondering what happened with Matej Blumel

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
1 year ago
I’m having a lazy Sunday here at the Castle Milk and I figured it was the perfect time to free the random thoughts that are rolling around in my brain and see if you can help me find some solutions.


Looking at the schedule for the week, the Oilers only place twice but both games are against divisional opponents — they’ve got LA on Wednesday and Vegas on Saturday — and I think these are too important to mess around with even though we’re still in the early days of this NHL season. That’s why I would play Stuart Skinner on both nights and give Jack Campbell the extra time to work on his game in practice. Sporting a .932 save% and clearly the better option in net right now, Skinner gives the Oilers their best shot to win and deserves to have some runway with the crease to see what he can do with the opportunity. Not to mention, the skaters on this team also deserve to have a goaltender that supports them. That’s not to suggest that Campbell shouldn’t ever play again, we know he’s going to get his chance sooner than later, but right now, at this moment, Stu needs to be the guy because he’s stopping more pucks. Skinner needs to be the goalie for the next two games against LA and Vegas at the very least, and he needs to have the leash to do his thing while also understanding that not every start will be a Picasso.


Isn’t it amazing what a goal can do for a guy’s confidence? After picking up a shorthanded beauty against Tampa Bay on Tuesday, Warren Foegele is playing with some extra jump in his step and I could not be happier for the guy. The goal was legit and the celebration was fantastic. It was like a 2000-pound Gorilla was lifted off his back and his goal gave him a jolt of confidence that added an extra gear to his game. So when Woodcroft bumped him up to Draisaitl’s line in favour of Dylan Holloway, I was very curious to see how the newly swagged out McLovin would look in the top six given our need for some depth scoring and limited options. As it turns out, it didn’t take long for Foegele to contribute as he fired the game winner past Spencer Knight to cash in his second goal in his last three games, possibly even securing the chance to start alongside Draisaitl on Wednesday. For a guy that hadn’t scored in 31 games prior to grabbing his first of the year, Foegele is playing some solid hockey right now and I desperately hope it continues because we’ll need more people finding the scoresheet if the Oilers are going to navigate the Evander Kane void successfully.


Speaking of Dylan Holloway, I wonder what kind of conversations are happening around him right now amongst the coaching staff. In 12 games played so far, Holloway is averaging under 10 minutes per night and often finds himself stapled to the bench after a giveaway or mistake winds up in the back of our net. From my side of the TV screen, I see a young player that’s trying to figure out what works at the NHL level and finding out more often than not that the moves that may have worked in college aren’t going to fly against the best players on earth. That’s not a shot at Holloway at all but rather an acknowledgment that he’s a young, skilled guy that’s going to need some time and at-bats to figure out what works and what does not. The problem with that is that he’s not really getting the chance to do that with the Oilers because the stakes are so high, and that’s why I would much rather see him playing big minutes with the Condors and having the chance to make those mistakes without the pressure of NHL expectations standing in his way. This is a player that is going to be huge for the Oilers down the line, but right now, I think there are better options to play on the fourth line in a low-minute role. I mean, if Holloway is going to get thrown down there after every mistake he makes then wouldn’t you rather see someone like Brad Malone in that spot over a guy that should be getting reps in all situations down in Bako? Wouldn’t that be best for his development? Just my two cents.


Are we ever going to find out the real story about what happened with Matej Blumel? Originally drafted by the Oilers at 100th overall back in 2019, Blumel was selected in his second year of eligibility and looked like he might add a dose of skill to a depth chart that desperately needed a lift provided that a few things went his way. A long-term project to be sure, Blumel spent three seasons with Pardubice HC of the Czech League where he registered 33 goals and 59 points in 129 games played before making his way to North America. Despite a decent run in the Czech League, he was left unsigned by the Oilers until they eventually lost his rights, but there was never any real explanation of what happened or why he wasn’t signed. At the time, there was a rumour making its way through Twitter that the team simply forgot about Blumel, but that always seemed like it was too much of a tinfoil hat theory to actually be true. There was also the suggestion that Blumel didn’t want to sign here, but that doesn’t seem right either. Obviously, there’s no way to know for sure unless someone asks Ken Holland about it, but I’m starting to get way more curious about the end of Blumel’s time in the organization now that he’s contributing in another organization. Fast forward three years to 2022 and Blumel just picked up his first NHL goal for the Dallas Stars, and I think it’s fair to bring this story back around because I can’t help but feel confused about the timeline.


On the latest episode of Better Lait Than Never, I looked at the Evander Kane injury and how that is a devastating loss for the Oilers. Who will step up in his absence? Someone has to do it. Subscribe to Better Lait Than Never for FREE on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, and wherever else you get your podcasts from! 

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