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Holland Argues He Couldn’t “Squeeze” Blackhawks in Keith Trade

Ken Holland took questions from media after the Duncan Keith trade. He was not pleased about questions involving the price he paid.

Ken Holland met with the media after Duncan Keith did on Monday evening. Keith was calm, cool, and collected and suggested he was prepared to come in and show the fans of Edmonton and his teammates that he’s got a lot left to give this Oilers team. Holland was anything but calm, cool and collected.

Holland talked Duncan Keith’s pedigree and experience when talking about why he was excited to add the defenseman to the Edmonton Oilers’ roster on Monday. Still, it didn’t take long for a media member to ask about the no retention of salary from the Blackhawks side of things. Holland responded that if “we were Duncan at $2.75 [million] the price would have been a lot higher than it was today.” He talked about Caleb Jones coming in and out of their lineup, but never quite cementing a spot. “Where we are in our cycle, it’s try to win now and it’s one of the other” as in trade more assets or accept the full salary.

Related: Oilers’ Ken Holland Being Heavily Criticized For Duncan Keith Trade

When asked if he pencils in Keith at a certain spot in his roster, Holland talked about Darnell Nurse as the first option on the left side and Duncan would likely to be in the second pair. Saying the Oilers need more pieces and he’s got more time, he does see Keith as a second-pair defenseman.

When asked if he could have put the hammer down a bit more, Holland seemed to get annoyed that he was being questioned about the price he paid. “What, did you want me to get him for free?” Holland asked sarcastically. The GM hinted that he feels like he didn’t give up much because Jones hadn’t established himself. “Keith is bringing more to the team from a leadership standpoint than a young player.” He said he spoke with Stan Bowman about salary, and if he was being asked if he could squeeze someone, Holland said, “It’s hard to squeeze someone in this league.” He added that while everyone can sit on the sidelines and analyze the deal, “I’ve got to make the deal.” He said that he was comfortable in adding a player that has the intangibles and tools Keith brings to the Oilers.

When asked if Keith is worth $5.5 million the cap hit, Holland said he looked at the record book. His experience tells him that the things players can accomplish in the past mean they have the tendency to accomplish greater things than the average player can, even as players age. He believes Keith has played at a high level for a long time and that for people who think Keith is on the decline, Holland is banking on the fact he’s been a great player for a long time, is excited, his role will be reduced and that he can do great things on the ice, as well as positively affect other players on the team. “Even if his skills have diminished some, he’s still a good player.”

When asked about the analytics and what he looked at, Holland said, “I don’t know if this was a numbers decision.” He said he can’t put a price on what Keith has done in the past and said he’s not looking at Keith to do what he did in his prime. He expects Nurse to play the biggest minutes against the toughest competition. I am aware of the analytics and he’d talked to his staff and they’ve gone over a variety of numbers and they’ve made calls around the league to people who know Duncan. “At the end of the day, after all that information, I’m excited to add Duncan to the Edmonton Oilers.”

On How Keith’s Addition Affects Other Blue Line Decisions

Holland says it’s very unlikely that Oscar Klefbom is going to play for the Oilers this year. He’s not sure at this point, Klefbom can even lift his arm over his head. He went into a long speech about talking with the doctors, but at the end of the day, he doesn’t see Klefbom as a player who can make a return.

When asked about how this might impact his potential ability to re-sign Adam Larsson, Holland said he’d like to sign Larsson and has money set aside for him. Ultimately, it will be up to Adam to decide where he wants to play. He says, “It has no impact because we do have cap space available.”

Adam Larsson Edmonton Oilers
Adam Larsson Edmonton Oilers

When asked about his confidence in getting Adam Larsson re-signed, he said he’s not confident, but also that he’s “not not confident”. He said he’s let Larsson know that he and Duncan Keith could be a good second pair for the Oilers and they are hoping that might a difference. “If I was confident, it probably would have been done by now,” said Holland.

Next: Whispers Surface Lightning May Try to Trade Steven Stamkos



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