NHL free agent frenzy is about to begin, and Ken Holland has around $20m in cap space to work with going into a crucial off-season for the Edmonton Oilers.
Free-agent day is sometimes referred to as a day where mistakes are made more often than not. And while that may be true, that is simply the risk you have to take in order to make your team better, this applies to the Edmonton Oilers this offseason.
This year boasts an impressive crop of free agents that will include Evgeni Malkin, Evander Kane, Claude Giroux, Jack Campbell, Darcy Kuemper, and possibly even Johnny Gaudreau. With the big day looming, I will be taking a walk down memory lane to see what Ken Holland’s successes and failures have looked like with the Oilers so far in terms of the contracts he has signed.
3 Best Contracts:
Evander Kane – 1 year x $2m (2022)
This past winter, Holland signed arguably one of the best one-year deals in NHL history when he brought in the controversial, but talented Evander Kane for next to nothing. It was probably Kane’s last chance to get things right in the NHL after a slew of bad press and concerns about his off-ice behavior, and what did he do with the opportunity?
He scored 22 goals and had 39 points in 43 regular-season games, and then followed that up with 13 goals in the playoffs, the second-most goals scored by an Oiler in the postseason since the 80’s dynasty (Fernando Pisani had 14 in 2006). An incredible run for Kane alongside Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl helped propel the Oilers to the Western Conference final, where they were bested by the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche.
While he will likely be leaving Edmonton in free agency, it was quite an incredible year that the Oilers got out of Kane, for a major discount.
Zach Hyman – 7 years x $5.5m (2021)
The signing of Zach Hyman was a bit of a risk – not because he isn’t a fantastic player, but because the term was so long and he has had some injuries in the past. Hyman needed to come out in year one of his contract and prove that he is worth the money and the commitment the Oilers made.
In the first season of his Oilers tenure, Hyman set career highs in goals, assists, and points in both the regular season and playoffs, not too shabby of a start for number 18. This was a good move by Holland that made the Oilers a better team, no doubt about it.
Cody Ceci – 4 years x $3.25m (2021)
When Adam Larsson left to join the Seattle Kraken, there was a lot of panic around Oil Country over the loss of their big, physical, stay-at-home D man. The Oilers desperately needed to replace him with a player that could stabilize the right side of the defense group and provide a steady presence.
Ceci was a cheaper option than Larsson, and while the four-year term was questioned by some at first, no one is complaining about this contract now. Ceci was steady for the Oilers, especially in the playoffs, and was arguably the best defensive defenseman on a team that made it to the conference finals. I would give that contract a passing grade for Ken Holland any day.