There was a time, not that way back, when the NHL Draft was the spotlight of the season in Edmonton.
The Oilers would have crashed on the rocks and been out of the playoffs by Christmas and the one hope for escaping the infinite rebuilding maze rested on no matter items the draft lottery would bestow upon them.
You are reading: Holland facing tough challenges in bid to restock Edmonton Oilers
Now, with a handful of pressing priorities that should be addressed earlier than subsequent season, and the Oilers deciding on twenty ninth general with their solely choose within the first 4 rounds, Thursday’s draft is an nearly incidental merchandise on common supervisor Ken Holland’s To-Do listing.
The large ticket objects are many, and none of them are straightforward.
What occurs with Evander Kane? He was a large a part of Edmonton’s drive to the ultimate 4 final season and can be nearly not possible to interchange if he goes some place else.
What occurs with Jesse Puljujarvi? He is usually a serviceable third-line participant on a very good group, however is he prepared to just accept third-line minutes, linemates and cash?
What in regards to the goalies? With Mike Smith driving into the sundown and Mikko Koskinen heading again to Europe, the online is a serious space of concern. Nonetheless.
The place does the cash come from? The Oilers are already simply $7 million under the wage cap with solely 15 gamers (together with Smith) signed to contracts. Even when defenceman Duncan Keith decides to retire, which he’s considering, it nonetheless leaves Edmonton in a good monetary state of affairs.
It’s one of many tougher summers Holland has confronted in fairly a while.
“Most likely,” he stated. “Each summer time has its challenges, however this one most likely is (up there). When you’ve the core we have now, the aim is to attempt to make the group higher and go farther.
“With the cap solely going up $1 million, it definitely makes issues much more difficult than what they usually could be.
“I’m doing numerous speaking. I’ve some concepts. We’ll see what transpires over the subsequent week.”
Kane’s future stays up within the air. Figuring out it’s his final huge contract, the 31-year-old goes to desire a longer deal. Despite the fact that he’s every little thing the Oilers need in a primary line left winger proper now, energy forwards don’t usually flourish of their mid 30s, so signing him to a multi-year, big-money contract is dangerous, even with out the potential off-ice issues.
On prime of that, everybody’s fingers are tied till they get a call on his grievance with the San Jose Sharks. The NHL maintains the Sharks had each proper to chop him unfastened and that Kane is a free agent. Kane maintains his contract with San Jose (terminated 4 years right into a seven-year deal for $49 million) must be honoured.
The Oilers may signal Kane, solely to search out out that the arbitrator transferred his rights again to the Sharks. So it’s unlikely he indicators wherever till they get a solution on this entrance, which could not come till after the free agent market has already been cleaned out subsequent week.
That is hardly a perfect situation.
As for Puljujarvi, the connection between he and the Oilers isn’t damaged, however large gaps have developed in how either side views his function.
Puljujarvi believes he’s a top-six ahead worthy of a coveted spot subsequent to both Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl. Former coach Dave Tippett agreed and granted him that prime actual property religiously, regardless of the restricted offensive output.
When new coach Jay Woodcroft arrived on the scene, he noticed Puljujarvi as a very good third-line winger and slotted him there down the stretch and thru the playoffs.
The proof suggests Woodcroft is true — he bought extra out of the Oilers than any coach within the final 15 years and any group that considers itself a contender can’t have a primary line winger with 4 objectives in 37 video games.
Nonetheless, Puljujarvi isn’t proud of the teaching change and that is the place the gulf begins.
The market isn’t going to be nice for the 24-year-old and Holland has already stated he’s not going to provide him away simply to quiet the storm so, until they get an excellent provide, there’s a likelihood he’s again subsequent 12 months. The issue is that he’s eligible for arbitration and proper now Jesse Puljujarvi at $3 million isn’t an incredible worth. So it’s one other powerful spot for Holland and the Oilers.
And past all of that is the larger image — the Oilers have been a remaining 4 group final season and may’t be taking a step backwards subsequent 12 months. However with Kane probably out the door, the goalie state of affairs nonetheless up within the air and cash nonetheless tight, it will likely be every little thing Holland can just do to get again to the place they have been earlier than, a lot much less advance into the Colorado-Tampa Bay stratosphere.
“I’ve referred to as a few groups and sniffed round, there are many goalies available in the market place,” he stated. “However there are additionally numerous groups in search of goalies. It’s a really aggressive market. We’ll see. I’m making calls.”
All of this comes towards the backdrop of a ticking clock.
“I’ve numerous balls within the air,” stated Holland, who is aware of he has to get artistic and make one thing occur. “Connor can be 26 subsequent season, Leon can be 27. The time is now.”