On Monday night, the Edmonton Oilers lost game 7 of the Stanley Final at the hands of the Florida Panthers. With this season ending in heartbreaking fashion, Oilers General Manager, Ken Holland is officially a free agent. Holland has been with the organization since 2019. The 68 year old general manager may look to take on a new challenge, or ride off into the sunset and retire. With Holland’s tenure in Edmonton over, let’s reflect on his 5 years in Oil Country.

The Bad

Darnell Nurse’s Extension

On August 6th, 2021, Holland signed defenseman Darnell Nurse to an 8-year, $74 million contract extension. This deal has a cap hit of $9.25 million per year, and runs through the 2029-2030 season. Nurse was coming off a career year prior to inking this extension. He had 16 goals and 36 points in 56 games during the pandemic-shortened season.

However, since putting pen to paper, he has been a disappointment to say the least, and has not lived up to that contract. Nurse is clearly overpaid, and not the top pairing defenseman Ken Holland thought he was. This was a major blunder on behalf of the Oilers General Manager. The organization will be paying for it for years to come, unless they can somehow move that dreadful contract.

Jack Campbell Signing

On July 13th, 2022, Holland made another huge mistake, signing free agent goaltender, Jack Campbell to a five year, $25 million contract, with a cap hit of $5 million per season. Campbell’s whole tenure in Edmonton has been a forgettable one. He had a 3.41 goals-against average, and .888 save percentage in 36 games last season. He followed that up with a 4.50 goals-against average, and .873 save percentage in 5 games this season, before ultimately being sent down to the American Hockey League for the rest of the year.

Campbell currently has three years left on his deal. If the Oilers cannot find a trade partner to take on his contract, expect the Oilers to buy him out this summer. No one likes cold soup.


Drafting has always been an issue for the organization, and it was no different under Holland. In 5 years at the helm, there were only two Ken Holland draft picks that suited up for the Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final this year in Philip Broberg and Dylan Hollaway. Broberg was a 1st-round pick in 2019, and Hollaway was a 1st-round pick in 2020. Both these players spent the majority of the season in the minors, before being mainstays on the roster throughout the deep playoff run. As former 1st-round picks, and both in the top 15, it shouldn’t have taken them 4-5 years to develop into everyday NHLers.

The only other Ken Holland draft pick to even play games in Edmonton is 2019 2nd-round pick, Raphael Lavoie. He has been held pointless in 7 NHL games so far in his career. It also doesn’t look like former 2021, 1st-round pick Xavier Bourgault will make the roster anytime soon. With the team currently in win now mode, it is imperative that the Oilers find valuable players in the later rounds. Hopefully the new general manager can help change the Oilers drafting woes.

The Good

Zach Hyman Signing

Not all of Ken Holland contract signings were bad. On July 28th, 2021, the Oilers signed UFA Zach Hyman to a 7 year, $38.5 million contract with an AAV of $5.5 million. Hyman has provided the Oilers incredible value. He’s scored 117 goals in 235 regular season games since joining the Oilers, including a historic 54-goal campaign this year. He fits like a glove on the Oilers top line alongside Connor McDavid. Hyman has 4 more years left on his deal, and if he continues to produce like this, this deal will go down as one of the best value free agent signings in the salary cap era, if not already.

Stuart Skinner Extention

Another tidy, yet underrated signing by Ken Holland was inking goaltender, Stuart Skinner to a 3 year deal with an affordable $2.6 million cap hit on December, 19th, 2022. While Skinner can be inconsistent at times, he is this team’s bona fide number 1 netminder. Skinner is a workhorse. He started 105 games in the regular season over the last 2 years. He also has a career 2.69 goals-against average, and .910 save percentage. The Oilers number 1 goalie is under an extremely team-friendly deal for the next 2 seasons. And for that, Ken Holland deserves praise and recognition.

Mattias Ekholm Trade

One of Holland’s best moves came via trade. On February 28th, 2023, the Oilers acquired Mattias Ekholm and a 6th-round pick in 2024 from the Nashville Predators in exchange for Tyson Barrie, Reid Schaefer, a 1st-round pick in 2023, and a 4th-round pick in 2024. This deal was a home run for the Oilers. Ekholm is exactly what the Oilers needed on the back end.

His influence also got the best out of defense partner, Evan Bouchard. Bouchard’s offensive game has really taken off since the trade. This deal allowed Bouchard to quarterback the top power play unit, previously held by Barrie. Ekholm is the reliable partner that Bouchard needed.

What is Ken Holland’s Legacy in Edmonton?

The Oilers made the playoffs 4 straight years under Holland, after only making the playoffs once since 2006. That fact cannot be ignored. However, they did not win a single game in the Western Conference Final until this season. At the end of the day, Holland had McDavid and Draisaitl in their prime and failed to capitalize on that. In order to cement his legacy, he needed to win a Stanley Cup in Edmonton, and they came up one game short.

What’s Next?

This is a crucial offseason for the Edmonton Oilers. They have many important decisions to make. Not only do they need to appoint a new general manager, but Leon Draisaitl is eligible to sign an extension on July 1st. It is paramount that they lock him up as soon as possible.

They also have a lot of pending UFA’s that need new deals, including Warren Foegele, Mattias Janmark, Connor Brown, Vincent Desharnais, Corey Perry, and Adam Henrique. It will be interesting to see which of these players they will keep, and which ones will hit the open market in under a week. The Oilers are still very much Stanley Cup contenders. The moves they make this summer will go a long way in ensuring another deep playoff run in 2025.

It is officially the NHL offseason. The draft is June 28th, and 29th, and free agent frenzy kicks off July 1st. Make sure to check out more content at Area 51 Sports Network throughout the offseason, as we gear up for the 2024-2025 season.