Ken Holland’s 2019 Summer Shopping List

Ken Holland

Tonight marks the unofficial opening of business in the National Hockey League. All 31 NHL teams will be inside the walls of Rogers Arena in Vancouver for the annual Entry Draft. With it will no doubt come trades, an area which the Oil could see some heavy action.

Before we can move forward, let’s take a look back. Here was my shopping list for Peter Chiarelli in the summer of 2018.

1.) A top-six scoring winger: Chiarelli never added in name, but did get a little luck with Alex Chiasson scoring a career-high 22 goals. Clearly, it wasn’t enough. Edmonton’s wing depth was among the worst in the league.

2.) Address second-pairing RHD: The Oilers drafted Evan Bouchard, who should fill this role in the future. For 2018-19? Chiarelli never addressed this hole, a common theme.

3.) Bottom-six penalty killer: I’ll give the former GM credit, he signed a strong option in Tobias Rieder. Unfortunately, Rieder had the worst season of his NHL career and did not bring the desired results. There was a solid bet made here, it just didn’t pan out. Ditto for Kyle Brodziak.

4.) Figure out the coaching staff: Trent Yawney, Glen Gulutzan and Manny Viveiros were brought in to assist Todd McLellan. McLellan was gone before American Thanksgiving, while Yawney and Viveiros were both let go last month. Only Gulutzan remains.

5.) Add a backup goalie who can play 20-25 games: The Oilers tabbed Mikko Koskinen for this job. If he filled this role, he would have been a great addition. He was overworked however, and signed to an anchor contract by Chiarelli.

As you can see, very little was done when it came to the list last summer. That’s a big reason why Edmonton finished second last in the west and once again missed the playoffs.

Holland brings optimism with him, a new lease on life. Over the next few weeks, we will get a look at his plan to make the Oilers a playoff team in April of 2020. After all, that is Holland’s stated goal for the short-term.

This exercise, which I’ve done for a few years now, was inspired by Lowetide. Here’s a look at Holland’s first shopping list.

The 2019 List:

1.) Add a top-six winger: The Oilers have Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins cemented in top-six roles. After that? It’s anyone’s guess. The biggest need this summer is to add at least one name to this group. Trade option Nikolaj Ehlers would be perfect, while UFA Brett Connolly represents another strong option. Whether it is trade or free agency, Holland must address this hole to have any hope of the postseason.

2.) Rid yourself of Milan Lucic: At a certain point, it is time to admit you were wrong. That time is now for the Edmonton Oilers. After two nightmare seasons, the club has to find a way to move Lucic. I still believe he will end up in Vancouver for Loui Eriksson. That deal would be a win for Edmonton, as Eriksson is a solid third liner who can kill penalties.

This situation is worth keeping an eye on in the next 48 hours.

3.) Third line center: Peter Chiarelli’s trade of Ryan Strome to the Rangers for Ryan Spooner has come back to bite this organization in the backside. Edmonton desperately needs a third center that can win faceoffs, play a strong two-way game and kill penalties. Vegas’ Erik Haula is a strong trade option, while Riley Nash could be available from Columbus. This is the biggest area of need in the bottom-six.

4.) Find a 30-35 game goalie: Depending on who you talk to, Holland needs to find a 1A or a 1B goalie in the coming weeks. He’s going to add one via free agency, it is just a matter of who. Pierre LeBrun reported on Thursday that the Oil are expressing interest in Carolina’s Petr Mrazek. Brian Elliott and Mike Smith are potential options as well.

5.) Rebuild the bottom-six: A third line center kind of fits here, but I’m talking more about the wings. To me, Edmonton has three pieces in place for a bottom-six. Wingers Jujhar Khaira and Sam Gagner, along with fourth line center/13th forward Colby Cave. There is work to be done here. I suspect Eriksson, should he come over in a Lucic deal, would fill one of the bottom-six holes.

Cheap wingers who can penalty kill, play hard and bring some speed to the table will be a priority. I could see Daniel Carr getting another NHL shot in Edmonton. Brandon Tanev could be the best free agent fit.

6.) Create space on defense: This goes hand-in-hand with creating cap space. If the Oilers can move out Kris Russell to open a spot for Caleb Jones while freeing up a little money, it’s a no-brainer. The Oil have too many overpaid defenders that are playing too high on the depth chart. Russell would be the first guy I move. I’d consider cashing Matt Benning in for a winger as well.

7.) Solve the Jesse Puljujarvi problem: This is last on the list because, quite frankly, it doesn’t need to happen this summer. If a deal benefits Edmonton, then great. You take said deal and call it a day. If not, you hold onto the asset and let him play in Europe until you get a deal that makes sense. This could be a long-term issue.

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