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How Has Holland Done Addressing The Oilers Needs?

July 18, 2022, 10:47 AM ET [28 Comments]
Sean Maloughney
Edmonton Oilers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog detailing what the key needs were for this Edmonton Oilers team and while there are still decisions to be made and changes to come I thought now was a good time to take a step back and look what has been done. With the draft come and gone and the main frenzy of free agency finished, the Oilers are nearing their completed roster.

Here were the needs I outlined and how they have been addressed. Is it enough?

1) A True Starting Goaltender: ANSWER - JACK CAMPBELL

As was expected for days leading up to free agency, Jack Campbell signed with the Edmonton Oilers. Campbell does not need to be an elite goalie; there are really only a small handful of those in the NHL right now but Campbell has proven to be a steady netminder on most nights, posting around a 0.915SV%. Campbell is now "the guy" in Edmonton while Stuart Skinner will continue to develop, first as a backup, and potentially as a starter one day.

2) Find a Way to Sign All the RFA's: ANSWER - PENDING

This is the one big question mark that remains on this off-season. Both Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi have filed for arbitration. That does not mean it will necessarily go that far as most players who file are signed well before their arbitration date. The Oilers will have roughly 6.4 million to sign McLeod, Puljujarvi, and Yamamoto. There just isn't enough space to get that done, meaning one of those players either isn't being signed or someone else is being traded to make space.

3) 3) Signing Kane or Kane's Replacement: ANSWER - EVANDER KANE

Right before Free Agency began, it seemed like there was no chance Kane would return to Edmonton but at the 11th hour, the man himself announced that he had signed a four year deal with an AAV of 5.1 million with the Oilers. Replacing everything Kane brought, from his physical play to his goal scoring ability would have been impossible in just one player signing. Holland played hardball with the forward and avoided getting into a situation where he was paying 7x7 or something else ridiculous. Great move.

4) Sign Brett Kulak: ANSWER - YES

This one was in jeopardy for a few days as Kulak announced he was going to test Free Agency. While players like Erik Gudbranson were getting paid 4x4 million in Columbus, Kulak signed maybe the best value contract of the day. Kulak, only 27, has the ability to be a steady top four defender and Holland signed him to a four year deal at 2.75 million per year. With Keith gone, Edmonton needed a replacement who they could count on. Kulak is that guy.

5) Trade/Replace Tyson Barrie: ANSWER - No?... But Maybe?

As of today, Tyson Barrie is an Edmonton Oiler. The right shot defender is an elite PP quarterback and did play more steady hockey in the post-season (something I greatly credit Brett Kulak with). However Barrie is a luxury item for the Oilers right now that they simply may not be able to afford. Evan Bouchard looks to be the future on the PP and as the Oilers top offensive option on the blueline and at 4.5 million, Barrie is an expensive third pair option. Depending how negotiations go with Yamamoto and Puljujarvi, Edmonton may simply need to trade Barrie for a more inexpensive option to free up space elsewhere.

6) Rework the Fourth Line: ANSWER - MATTIAS JANMARK

Over the weekend, Ken Holland signed forward Mattias Janmark-Nylen to a one year deal at 1.25 million. Last season, Janmark put up 9 goals and 25 points in 67 games for the Golden Knights. Janmark can play a more rugged game, has some size, but skates well and produces. He mostly plays on the wing but he can play at centre. He also is not a liability in his own end and can be counted on to be defensively sound. I could still see another signing to compete for the bottom six but Janmark certainly is an upgrade on either Josh Archibald or Zack Kassian.

With all of that said and done, here is the Oilers current roster, assuming all the RFA's return

Kane - McDavid - Yamamoto
Hyman - Draisaitl - Puljujarvi
RNH - McLeod - Ryan
Foegele - Janmark - Shore

Nurse - Ceci
Kulak - Bouchard
Broberg - Barrie
Niemelainen

Campbell
Skinner

I expect a few changes here before the season begins, for example I would slot Dylan Holloway into the lineup, slide Janmark to the left side on the fourth line and trade Barrie for a more defensive third pairing player, especially if they are going to play with a rookie in Broberg. My final prediction:

Kane - McDavid - Puljujarvi
Holloway - Draisaitl - Yamamoto
RNH - McLeod - Hyman
Janmark - Gagner - Ryan

Nurse - Ceci
Kulak - Bouchard
Broberg - Soucy

Campbell
Skinner

---

There are still some decisions to be made but so far Ken Holland has actually done a fairly astute job at signing players on value deals and avoiding shooting himself in the foot with buyouts or losing players for nothing. The biggest test left will be how the RFA's are handled.
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