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‘Hats off to Holland’: Oft-criticized Oilers GM praised for solid work signing major free agents

By on July 15, 2022 0

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Ken Holland, often criticized general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, crushing it?

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Earn widespread praise?

Even having some of his work praised by Corsi-loving types of analysts?

Yes, everything that happened in the last few days based on Holland’s three major signings of unrestricted free agents Evander Kane, Jack Campbell and Brett Kulak.

We’ll begin our praise-o-rama roundup with longtime NHL writer Ken Campbell, a keen observer of the game, who wrote about his excellent Blog“Not that he probably cares what other people think, but the consensus in the hockey world was that Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland had a really, really good day on Day 1. of free will. The last few seasons haven’t been kind to him when it comes to his status as a hockey leader. When asked if, at the age of 66, he felt like he could get his fastball back, he replied, “Well, it’s not as fast as it used to be.” So I nibble more on the edges. As you get older, you need to work the curve. “

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On Campbell’s signing, TSN’s Ray Ferraro, who for years was one of the NHL’s top commentators, noted Holland’s win: “I think Jack Campbell makes Edmonton a better team. Jack Campbell hasn’t had an outstanding injury history either. You might end up with Stuart Skinner playing more games than you think. I just thought, when I looked at Skinner, yeah, that guy is not in the American League anymore. He is too good. He is ready for the next chapter. So the Edmonton goaltender is better.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman noted that all the Oilers are looking for from Campbell is steady play. “He played a bunch of games last year with a broken rib which is crazy. I can’t sit in my backyard with a broken rib…I think Campbell will feel he has something to prove because that Toronto was not going to give him this contract… He will be motivated to prove something.

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Signing Kulak was also important for the Oilers, Friedman said, with his co-pilot on the must-see 32 Thoughts podcast Jeff Marek adding, “I thought (Kulak) was fine. I was one of the guys who took a bite out of that, whoosh, that is. arrived too late, Kulak had the opportunity to look over the mountain. He left. The secret is out. He looked so good on the Oilers blue line. It is good for them to do so.

Also on TSN, former Olympian Cheryl Pounder named Edmonton the big winner of the first day of free agency: “I’m going with the Edmonton Oilers,” she said. “They’re building on their playoff success. You think of the three areas they wanted to work on. They certainly wanted an upgrade in goal and I think Jack Campbell brings that. Second, you have Evander Kane, they were looking at a Top 6 forward, a guy who provides that physical edge, 15 points in 17 playoff games, it was amazing what that guy was capable of. And of course you have Kulak at the back, bringing a certain defensive presence, the ability to play physically.

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The Oilers haven’t made all the lists of winning teams on the annual ‘free agency winners and losers’ posts, but they have made plenty, including this one from Matt Larkin of the Daily Faceoff“Just 10 days ago, as part of our Daily Faceoff roundtable, panel members reflected on which GMs were under the most pressure this offseason. I picked Ken Holland. The Oilers, I guess , had so many question marks. Could they retain Evander Kane? Find a new number 1 goalkeeper? Cross your fingers and hope for a retirement of Duncan Keith and a reserve of Mike Smith LTIR? Find a way to re-sign underrated defender Brett Kulak? If you had told me then that the answer to all these questions would be ‘yes’ in less than two weeks, I would have laughed. Hats off to Holland, who managed to lock down Kane, the one of the best power forwards in the sport when emotionally committed, on a four-year contract at a reasonable AAV of $5.125 million… Hanging on to him, not to mention Kulak, means the Oilers have strong chances of keeping the gains they made in 202 1-22… Securing a new #1 goalie in Jack Campbell makes things even more interesting…. At worst, Campbell should be able to stop the pucks as well as a 40-year-old Smith did last season.

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And of USA todaywriter Mary Clarke: “Finally, the Oilers have a real starting goalie after years of Mike Smith shenanigans.”

And Sportsnet Ryan Dixon: “Retaining Evander Kane and Brett Kulak were very good developments to maintain the momentum of a team that qualified for the last four last season. It would have been quite excruciating to see Kane, in particular, come out after we’ve all seen how great he was alongside Connor McDavid… If Campbell is truly the long-term solution, this will go down as a breakthrough day in the oil country.”

And Justin Cuthbert from yahoo.com“Any reservations about Jack Campbell are understandable; it’s not often that an infallibly inexperienced guard co-leads a free agent class. But for the first time in several summers, the Oilers have managed to lure one of the biggest names to the position, which should be worth an upgrade to the most important position on the ice. But it’s how the Oilers secured the services of two impactful additions from last season that helped Ken Holland stand out. That the Oilers haven’t had to pay open market prices on Evander Kane or Brett Kulak, which not only keeps the team intact, but allows them to pursue other options throughout the summer months.

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As for the analysis guys, here’s what Evolving Wild had to say about the Kulak deal: ‘The Oilers getting Brett Kulak is definitely something the Oilers should do, which hasn’t no sense… So far I think Kulak’s signing has been the best of any contract signed. It’s still very early, but it’s theft.

At Athletic Analytical ace Dom Luszczyszyn rated Kane’s contract an A for fit and a B+ for value.

“It’s easy to say ‘anyone can play with McDavid’, but that’s another thing in training, especially to see someone work so well next to him,” he said. writing. “The tricky part is the contract and Edmonton, thankfully, pulled it off. Kane posed a huge risk of overpaying given the rumors that started with a seven for money and term – which would be too much for his age curve. A 30-year-old forward doesn’t expect to age well, and the Oilers did very well to keep the contract at just four years. That they also lowered the cap to $5.125 million despite the short term is even better.

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As for Campbell’s signature, Luszczyszyn gave it a B+ for fit and a C for value. :When Jack Campbell is on, he is on. But when he left? Look for. Last season was Campbell’s first as a starter and it was a roller coaster full of inconsistent plays. The big question is whether Campbell can be a legit and reliable starter. He’s predicted to be the 23rd-best goaltender in hockey, which puts him in that range, but below average. At this price and this term, the Oilers should hope for a little more. »

As for Kulak’s signing, Shayna Goldman of The Athletic gave it an A- for both Kulak’s fit in the squad and contract value. “Kulak was a perfect fit for Edmonton after moving there at the deadline, so it makes sense that they want to bring him back. He’s a solid defender in his own zone who can limit chances to score against, but he’s usually most successful in the minutes out of cover…. It’s a very good contract because he can always be profitable no matter where he plays – it’s great if he ends up playing top pair minutes, always very good on second pair, and enough good for a third pair defender as well.”

At the Cult of Hockey

Holland: “I’m excited and feel good about what we did today.”

McCURDY: What towers stood out in development camp?

LEAVINS: Kulak is back

STAPLES: Connor Brown will likely be an Edmonton Oiler, NHL insider says

McCURDY: It’s Campbell!

STAPLES: Why Kane signed a profitable contract with the Oilers

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