Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland tipped some of his hand on Monday while speaking with media about he’s working on, the pressing issues he’s dealing with and how many of the rumors floating around out there might be true. As long-time Oilers fan and former radio co-host Paul Almeida phrased it: “I can’t imagine being in the Oilers GM chair right now. There seem to be an ever-growing list of options with different moving parts that could change the roster around the edges or significantly.”
In an update on where the Oilers sit heading into the 2020 NHL Entry Draft tomorrow and what they may be thinking about when it comes to free agency, here are six things we can conclude from Holland’s comments:
What’s on His Agenda This and Next Week
Holland shared that he’s got two big priorities over the next couple of weeks. First, he’s looking to acquire a third-line center and that’s probably going to come via free agency. Second, he’s looking to find a goaltender to share the netminding duties with Mikko Koskinen.
The comments about Koskinen suggest that Mike Smith’s time in Edmonton is likely over and that Holland is looking for a goaltending partner for Koskinen hints that any talk involving trading the goalie was likely overblown or not accurate at all.
The No. 14 Pick in the 2020 NHL Draft
Edmonton isn’t likely to move Tuesday’s first-round draft pick. While there might be temptation to trade up or down and grab a useful player or higher selection, Holland noted, “I don’t see us moving up. I’m expecting we’re going to pick it.”
If anything, the Oilers are going to try and add more picks which makes sense considering he also hinted that Edmonton is likely to defer the third-round conditional pick owing to Calgary as part of the Milan Lucic trade to next season’s draft.
On Nugent-Hopkins Negotiations
“Nuge is a really important player on our team,” Holland said. There has been talk the two sides are already talking a new deal and speculation is that the parties aren’t all that far apart. Holland added, “My goal is to hopefully have Nuge here for a long time and find a solution on an extension.”
The talk is about an eight-year deal and a few hundred thousand dollars might separate the two sides. That seems to be something everyone can work through in short order. Any talk that Nugent-Hopkins could be used as trade bait is probably not accurate.
On the Trade Talk Surrounding the Oilers
Edmonton has been rumored to be in on a ton of trade talk. From Oliver-Ekman Larsson chatter to goaltenders to suggestions the team might be eyeing up Tyson Barrie or Taylor Hall. If there’s a player out there on the market, apparently, the Oilers have looked into it.
Holland did admit he’s been busy when it comes to calling othe GMs. He said, “I can’t tell you I’ve talked to 30 teams, but I’ve probably talked to 25.” At the same time, of the many rumors that are out there, Holland said only a few of them are remotely accurate.
On Oscar Klefbom’s Surgery Situation
There are whispers related to the injury status of defenseman Oscar Klefbom. Is he going to miss a good chunk of next season thanks to shoulder surgery that could keep him out long-term? Holland provided an update and acknowledge there are concerns with Klefbom’s shoulder but that surgery is not a guarantee.
“There’s some unknown,” he admitted. Klefbom is currently in Sweden being evaluated and will consult with Edmonton during those evaluations. This could mean the Oilers will go after a short-term solution on the free agent market just to cover their bases. Maybe there’s some truth to the Barrie rumors?
Qualifying Offers to RFA’s
Among the handful of players the Oilers can tender qualifying offers to, Jesse Puljujarvi’s name came up in discussion. Holland wouldn’t discuss any updates other than to say, “I know his goal is to get back to the National Hockey League… He’s a good young player and we need good players. There’s tremendous opportunity for him here.”
As for Matt Benning and Andreas Athanasiou, the deadline to qualify them is Wednesday at 3pm MT. Talk is that neither will be given an offer and the team is trying to convince both to sign other deals. Ethan Bear and William Lagesson likely will be qualified.
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