We can’t lie, there’s something inherently funny about the fact that, even after four straight seasons without a playoff berth and a bumbling general manager at the helm, the Vancouver Canucks aren’t even close to being Canada’s most hopeless NHL franchise.
That moniker either belongs to the Edmonton Oilers or the Ottawa Senators, depending on your perspective. And while the Senators are certainly a tire fire, a lot of that has to do with the team’s owner. The Oilers, on the other hand, have an owner willing to spend to the salary cap and leave the hockey decisions to those hired to make them.
The problem is that the decision-making in Edmonton has been problematic, to say the least.
Former general manager Peter Chiarelli was finally given his walking papers this year, and though there was talk the Oilers, with a front office that's essentially a who’s who of former franchise legends, were talking about giving the permanent job to Keith Gretzky.
The “Old Boys Club”, as it’s referred to in Oiler land, features both Keith and Wayne Gretzky, along with names like Craig MacTavish and Kevin Lowe.
And now, the news comes that the Oilers have settled on Ken Holland as the team’s new general manager.
Holland, as we pointed out last year, has not been particularly effective in the post-salary cap NHL.
In fact, it’s pretty hard to see this as anything but an old management group obsessed with the past. Holland’s decision-making in the last several years especially has been confounding.
He has a track record of handing out no-movement clauses and trade protection to marginal players, and inking long deals with those that hadn’t proved themselves, or were aging out of their primes.
Does that sound like someone prepared to handle the cap hell that is the Oilers?
Don’t think so. Edmonton may have the league’s best player in Connor McDavid and an excellent talent in Leon Draisaitl, but they need to start surrounding them with some talent, and soon. It’s not going to be easy given the way Chiarelli handled the salary cap, and Holland’s work with Detroit seemed to prove that roster building in this era is not one of his strengths.
If anything, it's a relief that the Canucks didn't hire Holland in their rumoured search for a president of hockey operations.
Get out the popcorn, this could be a good watch.
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