Most people would agree that the Edmonton Oilers are two pieces away from being a really good hockey team. The team lacks a natural third line center, preferably a right-shot. They could also use a second line left winger, someone to consistently produce next to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and James Neal.
So far, Gaetan Haas and Riley Sheahan have tried to fill the third line center role. Alex Chiasson, Jujhar Khaira, Joakim Nygard and Tomas Jurco have all had a spin on the left side of RNH. No one in that group has stepped up and taken the job. All have tried admirably, but these issues are still causing problems for the Oilers from time to time.
The expectation was that the Oilers would address those holes in the summer of 2020. After all, they likely weren’t going to the playoffs in 2020 and could keep their powder dry. Reality has a funny way of changing plans.
Not only do the Oilers look like a playoff team, they have a legit chance to compete for a Pacific Division crown. That could force Holland to fill one of those two holes to try and make a run in the postseason.
Don’t expect Holland to go treat himself to a center or winger for the holidays. If the veteran GM eventually adds to the roster, it won’t be until later in the season. Holland confirmed as much to 630 CHED’s Bob Stauffer on Monday.
“About a month before the trade deadline, the chatter starts a little bit. We’re a couple of months away from that,” he admitted. That certainly doesn’t sound like a manager eager to make a move.
Instead, it appears Holland is taking more of a ‘wait-and-see’ approach. “If we can continue, certainly it’s my job, my responsibility to try to see if you can, at the right price, add another little piece.” If the Oilers enter February in first place in the Pacific, Holland would have almost no choice but to add a piece or two to help his core group.
It’s truly amazing that the Oilers are in the position they are. Not many, myself included, saw this team as a playoff group when the season started. Holland admitted that the journey has been long, but it isn’t over. “We’ve come a long way since the start of training camp. Lots more to go,” he told Stauffer.
“The elite teams, they go on a run in the playoffs. The good teams, they make the playoffs. First order of business is to keep our foot on the pedal. We have to find a way to play our way into the playoffs. Then we have to make some noise in the playoffs.”
The Oilers appear to be a good team, and if they continue to prove that Holland very well could make a deal to help them get to that next level. For now, however, the GM appears ready to keep his powder dry. For the moment, that is likely the correct course of action. If they are in the same spot in two, two-and-a-half months? It’ll be time to light some of the powder.