EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers are looking to add a player or two prior to the NHL Trade Deadline to help secure a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, general manager Ken Holland said Thursday.
"You can say we're first place in the [Pacific Division], but we're also [four] points from being out [of the postseason]," Holland said. "That speaks to the parity in the League.
"How has it affected my thinking? I was a seller [as GM of the Detroit Red Wings] the last three [seasons] and I was a buyer at the deadline for many years. You work the phones. We'll see. Would I like to do something? Yeah, I would like to pitch in because the guys in that locker room have worked extremely hard, players and coaching staff, to put us in this position."
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The Oilers (32-21-7) host the Minnesota Wild on Friday (9 p.m. ET; SNW, FS-WI, FS-N+, NHL.TV). Edmonton trails the Vegas Golden Knights by one point for first place in the Pacific Division and leads the Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes by three points for the second wild card from the Western Conference.
Holland said he is looking for a forward but was noncommittal about his preference for a center or a wing. The trade deadline is Monday at 3 p.m. ET.
"That's fantasy hockey," he said. "Depends what's available, what's the cost, and it's not like there's a whole bunch of wingers and a whole bunch of offensive centerman or defensive centers. What's the cost? I'm trying to weigh that in my thought process from when I was hired to a five-year deal, so I'm trying to decide over the next three or four days how active I'll be."
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Holland has made it clear he does not want to trade Edmonton's first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft prior to the trade deadline, and he confirmed that Thursday, saying he will not use that pick in a trade for a potential free agent.
He also said the market has been quiet on any interest in Oilers restricted free agent forward Jesse Puljujarvi, who has asked to be traded and is playing for Lukko in Finland. Puljujarvi was the No. 4 pick of the 2016 NHL Draft.
"I haven't really shopped him, and nobody's really asked," Holland said.
Center Connor McDavid has missed five games with an injury to his left quad and is day to day. He could play Friday and will travel on the three-game road trip, which begins Sunday. Forward James Neal has missed 10 games with an ankle injury and is likely out 2-3 more weeks. Forward Joakim Nygard has missed 10 games with a broken finger and won't return for at least two weeks. Defenseman Oscar Klefbom has missed one game and is out 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury. Defenseman Kris Russell has missed 10 games with an upper-body injury and his return is unknown.
Forward Zack Kassian has to serve four more games of a seven-game suspension issued by the NHL on Feb. 14 after a kicking incident against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"Yeah, [NHL salary cap] space is a concern," Holland said. "Connor isn't going on [long-term injured reserve], neither is Klefbom. [Kassian] is suspended and on our roster. Those things impact to a degree what we're able to do."
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Division rivals have been active and adding before the deadline. The Vancouver Canucks acquired forward Tyler Toffoli on Monday, and the Golden Knights acquired defenseman Alec Martinez on Wednesday. The Coyotes acquired forward Taylor Hall on Dec. 16.
Holland said those moves will not change his thinking.
"I did that in my early years as a manager," he said. "There was us, [the Dallas Stars] and Colorado [Avalanche]. Sometimes it helps, quite often it doesn't help. Early in my career as a manager, yes, but not as much today. I worry more about our team. I can't manage against what other teams are doing. I have to factor in the prices, what am I looking for, what's going to make us deeper and better, and at what cost."