The start of the 2022-23 NHL season has been a rollercoaster for the Edmonton Oilers, to say the least. They’ve struggled to find consistency and the depth scoring has been virtually nonexistent, which has led to a lack of consistency on a game-to-game basis. As we talk about this today, the Oilers have begun to find their feet again, but the frustration in the fanbase is still apparent as expectations remain sky-high. The blame has been tossed around from Jay Woodcroft to the goaltending to the goaltending coach Dustin Schwartz, but today, we are going to talk about the man who built this team — Ken Holand.
Holland is now in his fourth season as the general manager of the Oilers and has made the playoff every season at the helm, and yes I am including the playoff qualifier against the Chicago Blackhawks. On a base level, Holland has helped bring a different standard to a franchise that struggled to find much of an identity for over a decade. However, some people are still not happy with the job Holland has done. They believe the team is still missing pieces to seriously contend and that this should have been accomplished given the amount of money that’s been spent.
With that said, I asked the question on Twitter, and here is what you had to say:
I don’t think a single transaction or two would be the difference to our D core right now. That gives me the feeling it’s not fully on Holland but he definitely could have improved the situation a bit more
— Grog (@gslowsk) December 6, 2022
Absolutely. Best GM this team has had in years… in other completely unrelated news this lead paint dipped ice cream I’m eating is delicious!
— Sean Maloughney (@SMaloughney) December 6, 2022
Yes. I’m disappointed with the player’s individual performances
— Jesse 🇺🇦 (@OilliO_) December 6, 2022
Tough call. He can’t make the players play a full 60, can’t make the d play d, and he can’t make the bottom 6 score.
I blame the pro scouts for saying Shore, Janmark, Foegel, and Ryan are good players when Milano, Dach etc could have been had for a song🤷🏻
— mainlining the coffee (@a_lg_BLKcoffee) December 6, 2022
Here are a few of the positive responses. The general response to defend Holland is that the players have not performed at the level they should be. Can you really argue against that?
With the positives out of the way, let’s see what the other side has to say about Uncle Ken.
I haven’t been happy with Holland since he pumped and dumped Kassian on himself.
Why do Edmonton fans media give their incompetent management so much leeway?
Have some expectations people.
— Mainlander Tim (@MainlanderTim) December 6, 2022
Loosing Russell and Keith and replacing him with Murray and broberg… I mean that screams mistake
— leon draisaitls flow (@TylerTommkoo) December 7, 2022
No. Shore & Ryan are space takers at best. Janmark marginally better. Take a flier on waiver guys, they are motivated at least.
Need to move Barrie + for a physical D.
Needs to find peak-Kassian.
I would take a Kris Russell return at this point.
— Mr Maris (@77MRB) December 6, 2022
Nope! The amount of D men that can play tough min(looking at Devils) that only cost a 2nd or 3rd that holland hasnt even looked at is insane. Sonny milano who played with zegras and know can play with talent signs for LEAGUE MINIMUM and holland avoided. Hes 9p in 15gp. Big misses
— Kyler Kotyk (@Kyler_K) December 6, 2022
He thought the defence from last year but add Broberg was a contending D core and boy was he wrong.
Absolutely terrible job considering the options available in free agency this summer. Like giving Virtanen a look but not Milano, Rodrigues, ZAR etc etc
— McDusty (@McDusty_69) December 7, 2022
No. Plain and simple. The best and arguably second best player in the nhl, and on good contracts and the guy can't put anything around them. Hyman and Kane are good but the D needs so much work and Holland is a "trust the process" guy. We have 3 years to win. Now or never
— Jeremy Rose (@TheOilyHab) December 6, 2022
It is fair to say when you look back at Holland’s time with the Oilers, mistakes have been made. I am sure when you look around the league as a whole, the other GMs in the NHL have also made similar mistakes throughout their careers. Obviously, the hope was that our veteran manager would not be making any errors whatsoever at this stage of his career.
The Jake Virtanen professional tryout was a big mistake for multiple reasons. Given his lack of performance on the ice, the Oilers probably would have been better off taking a swing at Sonny Milano or Evan Rodrigues, two players who had established themselves in the NHL the year before. Either of those guys probably could have helped with the depth scoring, which has struggled for Edmonton this season.
Other moves that have puzzled fans are the additions on the blue line, specifically Ryan Murray. Murray has not filled the boots of Kris Russell and Edmonton is missing a player of his unique talents.
Now, while it may seem like I am putting the blame on Holland, I am on Team Holland.
The team has massively underperformed on the ice but it is not his fault that the team’s scoring has completely fallen apart. Nobody in the league predicted this happening. Jack Campbell’s form has completely fallen off a cliff after having a close-to-Vezina calibre season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, another issue that has not helped the team.
You can then look at some of the core players he has locked into this lineup. Cody Ceci, Zach Hyman, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are all on this team long-term and all had positive impacts on what the team accomplished last season. You can also throw Evander Kane into the mix, who is on a fantastic deal.
All in all, this is not all on Ken Holland. A few of the decisions cannot be defended like Virtanen and not bringing back Russell, however, the positives massively outway the negatives. The Kane injury has not helped nor have the injuries to Warren Foegele, Kailer Yamomoto, and Ryan McLeod. There is still a long way to go in this season and Holland’s vision still has time to develop.