What should be number one on Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland’s to do list this off-season?

Photo credit:Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
By Woz
10 months ago
We’re in for a long off-season folks. The Oilers season has been done and dusted for a hair under two weeks now and yet, it’s felt like an eternity. However, we’re only over a month until free agency opens up and the NHL Draft begins.
With that being said let’s take a look at what should be number one on Ken Holland’s to-do list.
I collected a few thoughts from Nation Citizens across Social Media for this piece.
First up, Avro mentions how the Oilers need to dump cap space and bring in a new goalie coach. Dumping cap space is a must especially if Edmonton wants Evan Bouchard on this team which they do. Dustin Schwartz has been brought up often in the comment sections and whenever an Oilers goalie underperforms it’s usually him who gets more blame than anyone.
In all honestly, it wouldn’t hurt to bring in a breath of fresh air when it comes to a goalie coach. Stuart Skinner has been the bright spot in his tenure but even after the way he played in the playoffs, fans blamed Schwartz. He’s been with the organization since 2016 and the majority of goaltenders who’ve been with this organization have been very inconsistent.
Don’t believe Schwartz should be number one on Ken Holland’s to-do list but definitely an area that should be examined.
The big one on Ken’s to-do list is a combination of two players: Cody Ceci and Kailer Yamamoto. I feel upgrading both players could pose a slight challenge. Wouldn’t be surprised if one is replaced this summer and the other by next year’s trade deadline.
Tyler Yaremchuk on Oilersnation Everyday has eluded to the idea of Scott Mayfield and Connor Brown being dream fits to swap with Yamamoto and Ceci. Brown interests me due to his relationship with Connor McDavid but the big question around him will be his health since he hasn’t played a full 82-game schedule since 2018-19 with the Toronto Maple Leafs
I’ve noticed many Oilers fans suggest the goalie position. There’s no chance that Ken Holland tries to make a move for one in general and why would he? Historically Campbell has played better in his second season with each team he’s been on. It’s also very unlikely for Holland to give up on Jack after signing him to a five-year, $5-million contract.
Name another NHL GM that’s done that, I’ll wait. Skinner on the other hand will be fine and like I wrote about him last week, he should only improve going into next season, especially with the experience under his belt. The Oilers have confidence in their goalies and that’s not changing.
Think about it. Skinner had better regular season numbers than Sergei Bobrovsky who’s now having one the best playoff performances of all time. Stu’s proven he can be a good goalie in this league, he just needs to take that next step and be a reliable goalie in the playoffs, and based on his growth, we’re not far from seeing that.
Of course, if you move Ceci you need to bring a right-sided defenseman. The big man on the market this off-season will be Damon Severson who will likely command a 6 x $6.1m contract. According to CapFriendly, the Oilers are projected to have $5.97M in cap space.
Trading Ceci may allow you to shed some dollars but moving his contract could also present a challenge by itself as he makes $3.25M which could mean a transaction involving him would be dollar in, dollar out. We also need to factor in Evan Bouchard as he’ll need a new contract.
Other right-handed defensemen on Frank Seravalli’s Top 50 UFA’s are Radko Gudas, Scott Mayfield and  Matt Dumba.
Lastly, I want to address the “Trade Nurse” comments that you will find on any thread regarding the Oilers and potential moves. It won’t happen. Ever. Yes, I understand the frustration when it comes to his contract. However, he has a no-movement clause and is considered an extremely valuable member of this Oilers team.
Even if he didn’t have a no-movement clause. Good luck moving that anchor of a contract. Buying him out would hurt even more.
As per CapFriendly “A Darnell Nurse buyout spans 14 years, has a cost of $25,333,333 and savings of $12,666,667. Nurse is 28 years of age at the time of the buyout; therefore, the buyout ratio is 2/3. With $38,000,000 in salary remaining, the cost is $25,333,333, and the savings are $12,666,667. Buyouts span twice the length of the remaining years and because there are 7 years remaining in the contract, the buyout length is 14 years.”
Connor McDavid mentions him in nearly every year-end press conference saying how he’s part of the core. In the eyes of his teammates and coaching staff, Nurse is viewed as an integral part of this roster. He’s not going anywhere. Darnell Nurse is a great defenseman regardless of how much money he makes.
The most realistic number-one priority for Ken Holland would be replacing Yamamoto and Ceci. The Oilers’ right side both offensively and defensively is thin and needs a boost.
Honestly, Evan Bouchard will come first but that’s expected. After that, it’ll depend on what money they have left over and go from there.
Prepare yourself for a long and interesting summer for the Edmonton Oilers, Uncle Ken’s got work to do.

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