Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland addressed the media on Tuesday morning at Rogers Place to discuss what’s gone wrong and the team’s recent string of poor results.
Holland was asked a flurry of questions, including how he sees this season playing out as of now, whether he would consider making a mid-season coaching change, his thoughts on veteran winger Evander Kane, the current goaltending situation, and if he’d be willing to move a prospect or a first-round pick via trade for a rental.
Throughout the duration of his presser, Holland constantly affirmed his belief in the roster he currently has at his disposal, stating, “I believe that we are a good team” and that he has been disappointed in the past six weeks, but that he is unsure about where the Oilers sit due to “two extremes between the beginning of the year and where we are now.”
Holland said that his team hasn’t played well enough defensively and that they need to do a better job keeping the puck out of the net. Keeping on the theme of things needing change, he expressed concern regarding the Oilers being bottom of the league in goals-against. Holland also pointed out that he would like to see more scoring from everyone not named Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl.
Not surprisingly, Holland was asked whether he would consider making a mid-season staffing change, which he has never done in his time as a National Hockey League GM. Holland said that he believes in the coaching staff and has no plans to fire Head Coach Dave Tippet.
When asked about the current goaltending conundrum, Holland stated that he believes in both Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen, clarifying that they played Koskinen for as long as they did following Smith’s early season injury due to both uncertainty as to whether Stuart Skinner could keep them afloat, and because they thought Smith’s injury was initially short-term.
Holland appeared rather irritated when asked if he’d consider calling up Skinner from Bakersfield to give him a chance as the starting backstop, stating that he has watched Skinner play with the Condors, and that when it comes to possibly giving a chance as the No. 1, he’d “rather wait too long than wait too soon.” Continuing on that note, Holland said that he will evaluate Skinner further and make a decision at that time.
With everything going on surrounding Evander Kane, Holland was asked whether he would consider signing someone who has a history of past concerns in the league. At that point, he briefly stated that he “believes in second chances” and that if said player makes an effort to better themselves, he would consider extending that player a contract. Holland also said he has talked to Kane’s agent, Daniel Milstein, who also represented Pavel Datsyuk.
In response to whether he believes the Oilers are all in, Holland said, “I signed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins long-term, I signed Zach Hyman in the summer long-term. I brought in Cody Ceci and [Warren] Foegele for [Ethan] Bear, so I’m trying to be all in.” He was then asked whether he would consider moving prospects or picks for a rental to help with depth, to which he emphatically stated that he would not do anything of that sort.
Holland mentioned that “depth has grown internally,” pointing to Edmonton’s current pipeline of prospects. “That’s how we did it in Detroit, and that’s how everyone in the league does it.” However, Holland did state that he is working the phones and would consider moving a prospect or first-round pick in a hockey trade that would help the Oilers both now and in the long-term, but believes that the solution is among the current roster of players.
Edmonton doesn’t play again until Saturday night on home ice at Rogers Place, where they will get set to host the Ottawa Senators. Not playing a game for just over a week come Saturday, Holland states that the Oilers will have to hit the ground running once the team returns to competitive action. Edmonton still has half the season to go, and there’s plenty of time to get back to form, however, that gap is closing quickly.