The 2021-22 NHL season has to be considered a success for the Edmonton Oilers. Despite losing in four straight games against the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Final, fans should be feeling positive when looking ahead to 2022-23. Now that the playoffs are over for the team, and almost all of the year-end interviews have taken place, it’s time for general manager Ken Holland to get busy.
Knowing that the Oilers only have $7,130,205 in cap space to work with this offseason, here’s a top-10 list of ways Holland could improve the team for next season and beyond.
1. Get A Starting Goaltender
If I was Holland, I would ask Mike Smith to retire and offer him the goalie coach position with the Oilers organization. Then, I would take the $2.2 million in cap savings and trade Tyson Barrie ($4.5 million cap hit) or Zack Kassian ($3.2 million cap hit) and get another starting goaltender, such as Carter Hart from the Philadelphia Flyers, John Gibson from the Anaheim Ducks or even Mackenzie Blackwood from the New Jersey Devils.
2. Sign Coaches Jay Woodcroft and Dave Manson
This one feels like a no-brainer, as interim head coach Jay Woodcroft and assistant coach Dave Manson helped turn the Oilers’ ship around when they were out of playoff contention in early February. From all indications, it seems that signing them is a foregone conclusion, as both are young, bright coaches and are deserving of stability and pay increases.
3. Replace Evander Kane
After posting a heartfelt thank you to the fans, teammates and organization on June 9, it looks as though the productive Evander Kane is saying goodbye to the Oilers organization.
How does a team replace Kane’s toughness, grit, speed and scoring ability? Good question. Maybe it’s Josh Anderson from the Montreal Canadiens as suggested by Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer. Maybe Holland targets Alex DeBrincat or Connor McDavid’s buddy Dylan Strome of the Chicago Blackhawks who is an unrestricted free agent this summer? The Oilers GM definitely has his work cut out for him on this one.