It could be another quiet trade deadline for the Oilers if the team doesn’t turn things around.
On this week’s episode of the 32 Thoughts Podcast, Elliotte Friedman noted that Ken Holland is pulling Edmonton’s first-round pick off of the table in trade discussions until the team is higher in the standings…
Marek: I want to ask you about the Oilers. The positive COVID cases, the game against the Ottawa Senators was postponed, that’s now pushed to Saturday, which gives Ken Holland six days to make some decsions. Or have those decsions already been made?
Friedman: The one thing that I did hear this week, we’ve talked about it before the podcast and Holland has said it this year, he’ll move his first-round pick if his team is in it.
If you look at Edmonton’s draft situation this year, their fourth-rounder was already traded away, New Jersey has it in Kulikov deal, and their second- and third-rounders are attached to the Duncan Keith trade and it depends on how far the Oilers go.
So, he doesn’t have all of his picks. The other things I heard is that he was asked about his first-rounder this week and he said no. …
What do we know? They’re not the team that was 16-5, but I don’t think they’re the team that’s 2-9-2 in their last 13 either. What I’m hearing is they want to get back healthy, get everyone back in the lineup, anyone who tests positive doesn’t have to test again for three months, and see where they go, and judge from there.
I still stand to my point, they realize missing the playoffs is not an option, but I think the most significant thing that I’ve heard is that Holland said ‘I’m not dealing the first-round pick when this is where we are in the standings. It doesn’t make any sense.’
If he’s dealing that first-rounder, it’s because he thinks he’s got a shot at it being picked somewhere around 25th or later.
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The Oilers have gone ice cold as of late, posting a 2-9-2 record over the course of their last 13 games. They now have an 18-14-2 record, good for 11th in the Western Conference in terms of points percentage.
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This is a bit of a conundrum for Holland. While there’s certainly a significant risk attached to trading away the team’s first-round pick when they’re a playoff bubble team, the Oilers are badly in need of some improvements in multiple areas. Edmonton lacks a true starting goaltender, is devoid of any kind of offence in the bottom-six, and could use another veteran on the left side of the blueline.
In his first season at the helm in 2019-20, the Oilers turned a poor stretch in December around and got hot in the new year. As a result, Holland leaned in and gave the team some reinforcements, trading for Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Ennis, and Mike Green.
Last year, Holland took a much more conservative approach despite the fact the Oilers were a sure-fire playoff team in the All-Canadian division. The only move he made was acquiring shutdown defenceman Dmitry Kulikov from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a fourth-round pick.
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There’s obviously more pressure on Holland this season than ever before in his time in Edmonton. While his first two years were spent navigating the mess left behind by Peter Chiarelli, this is now Holland’s team. He had $30 million in cap room to work with this summer and just about everyone on the roster was either acquired by Holland in a trade or has a contract with his signature on it.
It’s only January and there’s still plenty of time for the Oilers to turn things around before the trade deadline, which is on March 21. That being said, the team could badly use some help, and Holland might have to be willing to take a risk with the first-round pick in order to give this team a spark.