Fire Ken Holland Before He Makes More Peter Chiarelli Moves for the Oilers
Surprise, surprise, a coaching change wasn’t the magical solution to the Edmonton Oilers’ woes.
Holland knew what the Oilers’ deficiencies were. Hell, we all knew. We talked about it daily, trying to devise a solution between the pipes. Could Edmonton compete with seven average defenders instead of acquiring a stud? We knew then, like we know now, they can’t.
Still, Holland stood pat in the offseason.
No matter how many times he shouts, “Alakazam!” Ken Holland is still a few magic tricks away from making this a competitive hockey club.
Daryl Katz needs to get a new General Manager behind the helm in Edmonton before Holland makes the same mistakes Peter Chiarelli did.
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There’s no need to re-hash all of Chiarelli’s missteps as GM. His questionable signings and lackluster drafting are well-documented. But his final move as GM, signing Mikko Koskinen to a three-year $13.5 million contract just days before being terminated, lives in infamy.
It took three years to rid ourselves of Chiarelli’s final mistake. The way Holland is currently operating, it’ll be at least three more before Edmonton gets themselves out of this mess.
Trading Away Draft Picks
Last year, Edmonton traded away its first-round pick for Mattias Ekholm. A necessary move that solidified the backend.
However, Holland has also dealt away a king’s ransom of draft picks over the past couple of seasons. The Zack Kassian salary dump cost the team a few selections, and they sent picks to several teams to acquire Brett Kulak, Nick Bjugstad, and Derick Brassard, with Kulak the player still around.
The latest buzz is packaging a first-round pick with Jack Campbell to wiggle free from his prohibitive salary. A move the Oilers would soon come to regret.
Building Blocks Gone
Trading away more picks would leave the Oilers in a precarious position. After a series of moves that have also cost them some of their top prospects, Edmonton’s prospect pool is already a little thin. Moreover, they had just three picks in the 2023 NHL Draft, only one of which came ahead of the sixth round.
Sending away their top selection in the upcoming draft would leave them with only three more in 2024, this time with only one coming ahead of Round 5.
Head Coaching Blunder
In haste, Ken Holland relieved former head coach Jay Woodcroft of his duties. Like Ron Burgundy jumping into a bear’s den, Holland will immediately come to regret this decision.
The Oilers’ metrics have plummeted under Kris Knoblauch. Edmonton is getting outplayed nightly, with less production and the same issues constantly plaguing the team. Suppose Woodcroft was struggling to overcome the Oilers’ shortcomings. In that case, it’s unlikely a rookie head coach with limited professional experience, walking into a well-established locker room, would be able to generate anything differently.
We will look back on the Woodcroft termination with the same derision as the Koskinen deal. But there’s time to correct things before they get worse.
Granted, we’re afforded the luxury of a retrospective lens from this vantage point, but that doesn’t excuse Holland’s constant misfirings. The few prospects the Oilers have left aren’t being effectively coached. They still have the same issues we’ve seen for the past few seasons. And Holland is trying to solve the problem with the same ideas that have failed him in the past.
Holland is trying to dig himself out of a neverending pit. At this point, he’s just moving dirt on top of dirt while stepping on everybody’s heads to escape this mess.
Without their former bench boss or most of their draft picks, and still not having an adequate NHL-caliber lineup reveals only one conclusion. Ken Holland has to go.
We saw Holland make the same mistakes with his former team. And that’s taken Steve Yzerman a hell of a long time to tidy up.
The old guard is dying out, and it’s evident that the game has passed Holland by. For the sake of salvaging this campaign and not ransacking future iterations, it’s time for the Oilers to find a new GM.