If you read into the demeanor of general manager Ken Holland during the Edmonton Oilers post-deadline media available, you get the sense the GM was never going to be taking a big swing at this year’s NHL Trade Deadline. That’s not to suggest he wasn’t open to a deal or that he was lying when he said he’d consider moving the first-round pick for a player with term. It really just means: a) nothing was there that he liked and b) this wasn’t the year for the Oilers to go all-in.
First, Holland said he couldn’t specifically get into depth about any interest in Taylor Hall, but he did suggest that there was never anything close and his body language suggested he wasn’t terribly interested. Noting that he did talk to a couple other teams about NHL forwards, he said, “Money was tight, assets were tight, and I guess as we went through it, I felt the priority was to get a little deeper on the back end.”
When asked if he was ever going to try and get creative and bring a third team into the mix, like some other teams did in order to play with the salary cap, “No” said Holland, cutting off the question in its tracks.
Many have written about how this might not have been Holland’s year to go all in. He did so, in a way, at last year’s deadline and it didn’t pan out well. He added Andreas Athanasiou for two second-round picks, then traded for Tyler Ennis and Mike Green. While it was not his fault a pandemic hit and the economy changed, it didn’t work well for his club. Many have wondered if he didn’t want to make the same mistakes again. He seemed to confirm that theory. “I made a decision last year at the deadline to spend lots of futures in trying to go on a run last year.” He added:
“When you make some decisions in life, they’re going affect future decisions in life, and I certainly made some decisions that affected my decision going forward. Those were the factors that I think weighed on me as we went through the trade deadline and made only one acquisition.”
Holland Will Play in the Offseason
Expect the GM to put his fingerprints on this team in the summer. While he’s got some key contracts to sign, he’s got a ton of cap space to play with and in a market where deals will likely be out there, he could be quite active. His comments at this presser suggest that he’s aware of the economic landscape that is likely to present itself and he could use that information to stick to his guns on a player like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or grab some free agents at values lower than in typical years.
Holland went into this year’s deadline with what seems to be a thought process that not every year is the year you ‘go for it.’. Some have suggested that’s a mistake because the window on Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl’s prime years might be open only so long, but the Oilers are a pretty good team as constructed, anything can happen in the playoffs and Holland likely has bigger plans in the summer.
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