Ken Holland Cannot Be Allowed To Hire Another Coach
Things continue to look bleak for the Edmonton Oilers. The San Jose Sharks are the laughing stock of the NHL, having allowed 10 goals in back to back games and sit with a single point on the season...
Edmonton is 4 points better than that team.
Blame is being passed around the organization now; the goaltending, GM Ken Holland, and coach Jay Woodcroft all having severe heat coming their way. And justifiably so.
On Woodcroft. I loved when the team brought Woodcroft up to replace Dave Tippett. Woodcroft struck me as a modern NHL coach who wasn't afraid to put young players in positions to succeed. Almost immediately after Woodcroft came up, he had Ryan McLeod up in the lineup and killing penalties to great success. Edmonton was swept by the Avalanche in the Western Conference Finals and beat by the Golden Knights last season, and while there were certain things I didn't like about Woodcroft's coaching. I still felt he was the right person for the job.
Now I am starting to have my doubts. Take last game for instance. Despite the Holloway, Foegele, and McLeod line coming out ahead in the shot department and not being on the ice for a 5 on 5 goal against, Holloway played the fewest 5 on 5 minutes of any player in that game at 6:31. The next lowest was Derek Ryan at 8:49. Woodcroft is entering Tippett levels of befuddling line combos and a lack of trust in young players. He is feeling the pressure of his own job and is looking to veterans to stem the tides. That strategy may well be what costs him his job.
We may see Woodcroft get the boot and a new coach put in place to try and wake this team out of whatever problems they are currently in.
But Ken Holland absolutely cannot be the GM to do it.
Make no mistake, this is Ken Holland's "win now" roster. Signing Connor Brown to a deal with a cap hit that impacts the roster next season was a signal to that. This was the roster that Holland believed was good enough to challenge for a Cup.
There can be no blaming Peter Chiarelli for "the position he put Holland into" as I have seen some suggest. The Chiarelli contracts are gone. Here are some of the signings and moves Ken Holland has made since becoming GM.
Bridging Darnell Nurse to a two year 5.6 million dollar deal before signing him to a massive 9.25 million dollar deal after to keep him from becoming a UFA.
Signing Zack Kassian to a 4 year 3.2 million dollar deal, having to trade down in the draft in order to move the contract afterwards.
Signing Cody Ceci to a 4 year 3.25 million dollar deal
Signing Jack Campbell to a 5 year 5 million dollar deal
Since 2010 when Steve Tambellini stepped to the stage to draft Taylor Hall first overall, through 2014 when Craig MacTavish extended RNH to a 7 year 6 million dollar deal, through making it to the playoffs in 16/17 under Peter Chiarelli to today under Ken Holland... the issues that have plagued the Edmonton Oilers have been THE EXACT SAME:
2)Lack of Legitimate Top 4 Defensemen
3) Secondary Scoring
Sure there have been moments of success in all of these areas over the last 13 years but ultimately those same issues continue to rear their heads. Fire as many coaches as you want but no GM since arguably 2006 has been able to successfully address any of these issues.
Ken Holland is on the last year of his contract and at this point I cannot fathom how new President Jeff Jackson would even think of extending him. Now is exactly the time to show Holland the door and get the new GM in place to start evaluating this roster. This is not to suggest this team should be throwing in the towel on this season, far from it, but the longer Holland is allowed to remain in the driver seat, the more likely he is going to make a dumb trade to try and salvage his own legacy.
Get a new GM in here ASAP, and let them get to work on fixing this mess.
There is a game today. Oilers vs Canucks.