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Could the Flames Steal an Up-and-Coming General Manager From the Oilers?

May 13, 2023, 11:34 PM ET [46 Comments]
Trevor Neufeld
Calgary Flames Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
For most Flames fans, it may be a bit irritating that news of a new general manager is taking its time.

Understandable, but the situation presents Sr. VP of Hockey Operations Don Maloney with a rare opportunity.

The team now gets to take a pulse on the approach of the next wave of hockey executives.

While Carolina AGM Eric Tulsky, New Jersey Vice President of Hockey Analytics Tyler Dellow, or the strategy-intensive Kraken AGM Alexandra Mandrycky, to name a few, may not be able to dish team secrets — however mining their approach and process can not only aid in innovating organizational habits; the process can also provide a dossier of how future general managers will handle the trade market, the UFA market and salary cap management over both the short and long term.

Apologies for the run-on, but it sounds just so fun to be a fly on the wall for Interim General Manager Don Maloney’s process. Picking the brains of the cutting edge in analytics and getting paid to do it. Here’s hoping Don is having fun too.

The topic is covered well enough to spare you going over the major candidates. With that said: one option seems to have been overlooked and is worth pointing out.

What if Maloney were to steal a fan favourite from Calgary’s greatest rival?

Brad Holland
His father and four-time Stanley Cup winning exec, Ken Holland, still runs the show in Edmonton. It’s always a little shady when the offspring of a higher-up lands a sweet promotion in the fashion that Brad Holland did when his title was upgraded from scout to assistant general manager. In this case, there’s an argument that the promotion should have come sooner.

Originally cutting his teeth in 2006 as a community moderator for nhl.com, Brad worked his way into a role as the Video Manager of the NHL’s Hockey Operations Department. He held that gig until the end of the 2014-15 post-season.

In 2015, the younger Holland got his first gig with an NHL franchise: Team of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mind you, team manager and general manager are very different roles.

In 2019, Ken brought his son into the Oilers fold as a scout. He worked that position for three seasons before former pugilist Archie Henderson’s retirement made way for a promotion.

Brad’s hybrid style of eye test and analytics got him to where he is today. His first season serving as an assistant general manager has warranted big results.

The 41-year-old Holland is credited within the organization as doing most of the footwork on the first home run trade that the Oilers have made in years.

That being the swap of Tyson Barrie, 2022 first round selection Reid Schaefer, a 2023 first round pick, and a 2024 fourth round pick in exchange for Mattias Ekholm and a 2024 sixth round pick.

Two first round picks isn’t chump change, but so far the results of that deal are impressive.

Before & After — Ekholm for Barrie

Before October 7-February 28
Record: 32-21-8 — 14th in the NHL
Points Percentage: .590

After – February 29-April 30
Record: 18-2-1 — 1st in the NHL over that span
Points Percentage: .881

It’s hard to pin that as anything short of a home run.

So we have very arguably the best deal of the season, and it’s reportedly authored by an available candidate for a general manager position. The cherry on top is that Calgary would be swiping an invaluable asset from their archrival.

Also worth mentioning is that beyond giving Ryan Smyth a shot, there likely isn’t a hiring that would boil the blood of the Oilers faithful. Not bad, right?

Also according to Allan Mitchell of the Athletic, Brad Holland made a push to management for the acquisition of Klim Kostin in exchange for Dmitri Samorokov.

Kostin, 24, fit like a glove amongst the Oilers depth. 10 goals and 11 assists in 57 games while providing a massive physical presence. He led the team in hits this season with 157 despite only playing 57 games and averaging 10:04. His 16.42 hits per 60 minutes ranks him 16th in the NHL among players getting into at least 30 games. At a price tag of 750k and with RFA status this offseason, the trade is looking pretty shrewd.

Maloney’s Criteria
Let’s look at what Don Maloney had to say regarding who he’s looking for to serve as a new general manager.

“I think you need somebody younger, progressive — inventive, hockey acumen and, uh, background certainly plays a part but we’re going to get the best person we think we can win with and support that person.”

Allan Mitchell of the Athletic caught this quote on Brad Holland from former Flame and Oiler, Steve Staios.

“He’s a bright, young mind,” first-year Oilers exec Steve Staios says. “Seeing how he uses the data and the numbers, it’s on a different level.”

Still on the bright side of of his 40’s? Check.

Progressive? He’s known for acknowledging the value of the eye test, analytics and has over ten years of video analysis experience. Check there too.

Inventive? Time will tell.

Interestingly enough, Steve was involved in the first-ever trade between Calgary and Edmonton. On March 3, 2010, Staios was swapped for defenceman Aaron Johnson and a third-round draft pick in 2011.

The third round pick became winger Travis Ewanyk, who eventually took his career to Germany where he plays for the Bayreuth Tigers of the second tier of the DEL league. Blake Coleman went one pick after Ewanyk at 75th overall.

Time will tell who Don Maloney and the Calgary Flames brain trust eventually choose to go with. The interim Flames GM stated that he would like to have a new general manager brought in before the draft on June 28.

Would you support hiring Brad Holland from the Oilers to manage the 2023-2024 Calgary Flames? With seven weeks to go, who would your pick be to run the franchise?

Trevor Neufeld


Stats via nhl.com, eliteprospects.com, and naturalstattrick.com.
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