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Team Reset

Oilers aim for stability with new GM Holland, coach Tippett

Hope to make run at playoff berth with veteran forwards Granlund, Jurco

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Edmonton Oilers:

The Edmonton Oilers are hoping that patience and stability will reverse a course of inconsistency and turmoil that has caused them to miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 12 of the past 13 seasons.

Ken Holland was hired as general manager May 7 after 22 years in that position with the Detroit Red Wings, who won the Stanley Cup three times in that span. Holland was hired to replace Peter Chiarelli, who was fired Jan. 22.

 

[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]

 

In one of Holland's first moves, the Oilers hired Dave Tippett as coach May 28 to replace Ken Hitchcock, who took over after Todd McLellan was fired Nov. 20.

Tippett previously coached the Arizona Coyotes (2009-17) and Dallas Stars (2002-09) and worked most recently as a consultant for the expansion Seattle franchise, which will begin play in the 2021-22 NHL season.

"I believe we can compete for a playoff spot in 2019-20," Holland said. "It was a tough year last year with a lot of instability.

"Some of our good young players give us an incredible nucleus to work around, but they are 22 or 23 (years old) and their heads must be spinning with what's going on. So we've got to calm the waters and bring in stability, make a stable environment. I'm hoping that's what I can bring."

The Oilers began that process by signing three veteran free agents July 1.

Goalie Mike Smith will provide competition for No. 1 Mikko Koskinen. Forwards Markus Granlund and Tomas Jurco solidify the bottom six. Each is capable of scoring goals and has experience; Granlund has played 301 NHL games, Jurco has played 201.

Here's what the Oilers look like today:

 

Key arrivals

Mike Smith, G: The 37-year-old, who signed one-year contract, was 23-16-2 with a 2.73 goals-against average, .898 save percentage and two shutouts in 42 games (40 starts) with the Calgary Flames last season. He played for Tippett in Dallas and Arizona. ... Markus Granlund, F: The 26-year-old is a strong penalty killer and versatile forward who can play center and wing. He had 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists) in 77 games with the Vancouver Canucks last season. ... Tomas Jurco, F: The 26-year-old was drafted by Detroit (No. 35) in the 2011 NHL Draft) when Holland was GM. He has 50 points (22 goals, 28 assists) in five seasons with the Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks. ... Joakim Nygard, F: The 26-year-old signed a one-year contract May 24 after playing seven seasons for Farjestad of the Swedish Hockey League. He had 35 points (21 goals, 14 assists) in 52 games last season. ... Ken Holland, general manager: The 63-year-old was GM of the Red Wings from 1997-2019. They qualified for the playoffs in the first 18 of his 21 seasons. ... Dave Tippett, coach: The 57-year-old is 553-413-120 with 28 ties in 1,114 regular-season NHL games and 33-41 in 74 playoff games. James Neal, F: Acquired in trade with Calgary Flames for Milan Lucic on July 19. ... The 31-year-old had 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) in 63 games for Calgary last season.  

Video: VAN@NSH: Granlund, Hughes combine for opening PPG

 

Key departures

Andrej Sekera, D: Signed a one-year contract with the Dallas Stars on July 1, one day after his contract was bought out to create NHL salary cap space. Sekera had four assists in 24 games last season. ... Tobias Rieder, F: Became an unrestricted free agent July 1 after he had 11 assists in 67 games last season. ... Ty Rattie, F: The unrestricted free agent had 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) in 64 games over two seasons with Edmonton. ... Milan Lucic, F: The 31-year-old had 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 79 games last season. His six goals were the fewest he has scored in 12 NHL seasons and his 20 points tied his fewest.

 

On the cusp

Caleb Jones, D: The 22-year-old averaged 19:48 of ice time in 17 games for the Oilers between Dec. 14 and Jan. 20 last season. Jones also had 29 points (six goals, 23 assists) in 50 games with Bakersfield of the American Hockey League. ... Ethan Bear, D: With 31 points (six goals, 25 assists) in 52 AHL games last season, the 22-year-old continued to progress. His 18-game late-season stint with the Oilers in 2017-18 revealed vision and a low panic threshold. … Evan Bouchard, D: The 19-year old, selected in the first round (No. 10) of the 2018 NHL Draft, scored one goal in a seven-game NHL audition last season before returning to London (Ontario Hockey League), where he had 53 points (16 goals, 37 assists) in 45 games.

Video: WSH@EDM: Bouchard scores first NHL goal

 

What they still need

One or two top-six forwards who can play the wing with center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, although that will most likely come through a trade, according to Holland. Edmonton also needs to make a decision on 21-year-old forward Jesse Puljujarvi, a restricted free agent who has asked to be traded after three seasons with the organization.

 

Fantasy focus

Whether it's a tandem or a clear-cut starter in Edmonton, the Oilers goalies stand to benefit from the hiring of Tippett. Koskinen, who had four shutouts last season, will be joined by Smith, who had the best season of his NHL career under Tippett with the Coyotes in 2011-12. With almost nightly goal support from Connor McDavid and/or Leon Draisaitl, fantasy owners can look past Edmonton's flaws and take a calculated risk on Koskinen or Smith as a depth goalie in deep leagues. -- Pete Jensen

Video: EDM@VGK: McDavid ties career high with 41st goal

 

Projected lineup

Leon Draisaitl -- Connor McDavid -- Zack Kassian

Joakim Nygard -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Alex Chiasson

Jujhar Khaira -- Markus Granlund -- Tomas Jurco

James Neal -- Kyle Brodziak -- Sam Gagner

Oscar Klefbom -- Adam Larsson

Darnell Nurse -- Kris Russell

Matt Benning -- Caleb Jones

Mikko Koskinen

Mike Smith

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