In an extensive interview with The Athletic, Edmonton Oilers’ General Manager Ken Holland delved into the team’s expectations and aspirations for the upcoming season. One topic that surfaced during the interview was the recent statement made by star player Leon Draisaitl, who declared that the forthcoming season was a “Cup or bust” scenario. This declaration raised questions about whether Draisaitl’s comments added pressure on Holland to make immediate changes to bolster the team’s chances of winning the Stanley Cup.
Not only do those comments not seem to phase the GM, but it’s the kind of mentality he already had. And, it isn’t just this season he’s been thinking about wheeling and dealing, but every season since he joined the team and knew he had the Stanley Cup fate of a player like Connor McDavid in his hands.
Holland responded by acknowledging the sentiment behind Draisaitl’s statement. He pointed out that the Oilers had faced the reigning champions in the playoffs over the past two seasons, emphasizing the competitive nature of their postseason journeys. Furthermore, Holland highlighted the team’s remarkable performance, ranking second in winning percentage across the last 120 games, just trailing the Boston Bruins and surpassing strong teams like Carolina and Toronto.
The GM then emphasized the significant responsibility that comes with managing a team that includes generational talent like McDavid. He stressed the importance of continuous improvement and the need to maintain a high level of competitiveness to contend for the coveted Stanley Cup. He explained:
When I came to Edmonton four years ago, I understood quickly that when Connor McDavid’s career is in your hands to some degree as a manager, there’s a responsibility that comes with that. We’ve tried to build it up, we’re getting better and I think if you want to win a Cup you have to keep being good. Look at Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Washington, Vegas. If you want to win a Cup, you have to keep banging on the door.
Holland Teases Going All-In Again This Season
Holland cited successful franchises as examples of teams that continued to go for it. It’s why he’s changed from the kind of GM who never traded a first-round pick to one who has repeatedly done so and will probably do so again this season. Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer predicted the odds the Oilers would trade that pick at around 97%.
Holland concluded by reaffirming his focus on managing and developing the Oilers, with the primary goal of assembling the best possible team for the upcoming season. He noted,”… our goal is to legitimately compete for the Stanley Cup and you need veterans to do that.” Those veterans will become available at the NHL Trade Deadline and you can guarantee Holland will be kicking tires on a handful of them in an effort to find just the right fit.
The interview proved that the Oilers’ mindset is to bring the Stanley Cup back to Edmonton. If it takes a big trade, Holland is prepared to pull the trigger.
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