Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland took the podium today to field questions from reporters, as scrutiny and frustration grow in the market. Holland was visibly frustrated himself, noting multiple times how the team was among the best in the league at the start of December, something that he believes can happen again this season.
On the future of head coach Dave Tippett, Holland once again indicated that he doesn’t think a change is needed and suggested he doesn’t even really believe in-season firings are an option. Tippett is in the final season of his three-year contract from 2019 and so far doesn’t have a single playoff win during his tenure. The Oilers did win a qualification round game against the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2020 bubble, but failed to even move on past that round. “You can’t just keep whipping through coaches,” Holland explained, noting how many coaches have been through the Oilers organization over the last decade.
Many of the questions had to do with reports that Evander Kane is a possibility for the Oilers though, and Holland was asked specifically about the free agent forward.
Well I’ve talked to his agent. His agent is Dan Milstein, I know Dan very well because he was Pavel Datsyuk’s agent. I had lots of dealings with Dan Milstein.
I say to you as the manager it’s my responsibility to investigate every situation, talk to managers. So I have talked to Dan.
Holland was also clear that he does “believe in second chances” for players who have not found success elsewhere or made a mistake in the league. He obviously can’t speak directly about his Kane negotiations, but it does appear as though the Oilers are interested in the forward.
Kane does represent a unique opportunity because of his free agent status, especially for a manager like Holland who doesn’t want to offer up picks and prospects for a rental. In fact, he explained that he believes the answer is in his dressing room and will not sacrifice futures for a rental at this point. If there is a “hockey trade” to be made, it might make sense, but Holland was clear about how the Oilers need to keep building depth through the draft.
Right now none of those are on the table.
I wouldn’t do that. I think the answer is in that locker room. Why would I trade a first-round pick or one of our top prospects to have somebody give us a little bit of a boost, and then next year we have a press conference where you’re asking about secondary scoring? The depth has to be built internally. The depth of this organization has to be the growth.
The Oilers are off until Saturday when they will take on the Ottawa Senators in the 35th game of the season. They currently sit at 18-14-2, have lost five straight, and are now sixth in the Pacific Division, one point behind the San Jose Sharks.