Time to Give Ken Holland His Roses

Not even a year ago, maybe not even six months ago, I was a Ken Holland critic, but now the time has come to give Ken Holland his flowers. Many have failed as Oilers G.M over the last 15 years, from Peter Chiarelli to Steve Tambellini, the man making the moves has continually disappointed fans year after year. Not Ken Holland. Even though the 5 million dollar man has no shortage of critics, Holland has been able to have the best winning percentage for a G.M in franchise history with a .574% winning percentage. So, today I am looking to get even one person to change their mind about Ken Holland.

Jason Franson, Associated Press

First, I would like to talk about Holland’s moves as G.M. With both good and bad moves on his resume; I would like to get the negatives out of the way first.

The Bad ones

Ken Holland’s most criticized moves are the Darnell Nurse extension, acquiring Andreas Athanasiou for Sam Gagner, and two 2nd round picks. I like Darnell Nurse, and I believe that if he plays within his limits, he will be a true top-pair defenseman. However, Darnell Nurse is on an 8-year contract earning an average of 9.25 million a season. That is a lot of money for someone whose game is pretty limited. Hindsight is 20/20, and it really makes the Athanasiou trade look bad. Nine games after the Oilers acquired Athanasiou, Covid-19 shut down the league; in those nine games, Athanasiou has a whopping one goal and one assist. A few months later, when the league resumed with playoffs in the summer, Athanasiou put up 0’s across the board in the Oilers’ first-round exit.

The Good ones

Surprisingly, Ken Holland seems to have no shortage of Good Moves during his tenure as Oilers G.M. Swapping what could have been with the Blues and Acquiring Klim Kostin, who has quickly become a fan favorite and locking up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for eight years at $5.125 Million are among my favorites moves. Most of Ken Holland’s wins have come from small trades and contract signings. How he has transformed this forward group from what he had when he arrived is nothing short of remarkable. Signing talent in free agency has always been difficult for the Oilers; Edmonton is not often the preferred destination for players. So, for Holland to have locked up Evander Kane, Zach Hyman, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to under 16 million dollars is impressive, to say the least. Although the jury is still out on Jack Campbell, who has been impressive as of late, it is safe to say that signing now All-Star Stuart Skinner for 2.6 million through 2026 is also a win.

You know what else Ken Holland has been good at? Drafting. His notable picks are Philip Broberg, Dylan Holloway, Xavier Bourgault, and Carter Savoie. Along with drafting these players, Holland has held on to his top prospects. Dylan Holloway and Philip Broberg have been in the rumor mill for a long time. Through it all, Ken Holland has been firm that both players will be essential to the Oiler’s success. At first, the masses shouted and hated Holland for this, and now the tide has begun to turn. Broberg and Holloway seem to be establishing themselves as full-time NHLers. Broberg, since being recalled to the team, has been outstanding. Game after game, he seems to get better and more comfortable. It is rare to see him make a mistake, and when he does, it is while trying to make the right play. From watching him, it is easy to see he is an effortless skater who won’t force anything on the ice. He and Bouchard have been the Oilers’ best pairing as of late, continually stuffing entries and making solid plays. As for Dylan Holloway, he may not always stand out on the score sheet, but he does add a dynamic to the Oiler’s bottom six that has been missing over the year. Skill. Not just skill but effort. Effort and skill? Whatever it is, it’s hard not to notice Dylan Holloway on the ice; he has blazing speed and a creative mind. Even with being a rookie, Holloway isn’t shy to be involved in the scrappy side of the game, either. All in all, I believe the masses may owe Ken Holland an apology for holding onto these blue chips.

This season has been Holland’s toughest as G.M., as there are no more excuses for failure; the Oilers were four wins away from playing for the cup last spring. With the team battling for a playoff spot through the first 50 games of the season, Holland has continued to preach patience. From October until now, everyone has demanded Holland do something, and through it, all Holland has stood his ground, and it may be finally paying off. The Oilers have won five straight, and their next eight games are against bottom ten teams. So, for now, I ask the question, how do you feel about Ken Holland’s time as G.M.?

Stanley Cup Aspirations Cue’ the Duck Boats Pod

The boys are back after a long break but have plenty to talk about as the playoffs are in full swing. We go series by series, looking at how teams have fared so far and who will come out on top. Thanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Stanley Cup Aspirations
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  3. Here Come the Playoffs
  4. Home Stretch
  5. Kevy Cooks

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