Uploaded by: Martin Arnold
A man with Ken Holland’s long history as an NHL general manager will have developed some distinct habits. In his case, it means deals that usually rotate around ‘picks for immediate help’ or ‘immediate help for picks’ with a prospect or two thrown in, depending on his team being a buyer or seller over the years.Age is no deterrentTypical of Holland’s deadline work is March 24, 1998, during a season the Red Wings would win the Stanley Cup. Holland made two transactions in an effort to improve the team on defence, adding veterans over 30 years old. Both deals sent away futures for immediate help:
Holland, who clearly has an amazing memory, recalled (via Tim Campbell at NHL.com) that deadline recently, saying, “We’ve made little deals, like Jamie Macoun at five minutes to 3 (p.m. on deadline day) for a fourth-round draft choice and Macoun and (Bob) Rouse are the second (defence) pair and we win the Cup in 1998.”
Late Sunday night, Holland made a trade that would fit right in with those 1998 deals. He sent out futures (plus LTIR veteran Kyle Brodziak) in exchange for defenceman Mike Green, age 34. If Green helps Edmonton win a round this spring, and mentors youngsters like Ethan Bear along the way, Oilers fans should consider the draft pick exiting the system well spent. The conditions on the pick (a 2020 fourth but becomes a third in 2021 if the Oilers make the Western Conference final and if Green plays half the games in the first two rounds) are friendly to the Oilers.
Edmonton has improved its defensive depth, a calling card of Holland’s deadlines, and he did it by acquiring a blueliner well over 30, another hallmark. Ken Holland likes old defencemen, and they’ve rewarded his faith in them over the years.
Boomerang effectHolland also has a history of reacquiring players whom he employed in the past, something Green and Andreas Athanasiou are experiencing now. Oilers fans may not be familiar with this yet but ask a Red Wings fan about Chris Osgood, Dom Hasek, Igor Larionov and others. By 2012, about 15 years into his time as general manager, the count was at 17 and of course the seven years that followed added several more names.
Edmonton’s general manager has a passion for collecting players whom he once employed and that could give Edmonton fans a head start on summer signings and trades. It might be worth the time to peruse the Red Wings 2019-20 roster to see if there are attractive pieces for next deadline. Unlikely we’ll see Dylan Larkin, Filip Zadina, Ryan Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi or Filip Hronek available, but Darren Helm or Val Filppula might pop loose in the coming months.
Risky businessHolland’s career has seen trades that didn’t work — it’s unreasonable to expect a perfect 23 years on the job. NHL trade tracker has 68 trades over 22 years, an average of three per season. Holland’s riskiest trades occurred mostly in the final decade of his time in Detroit. Here are two that I believe show his outer marker for risk:
These two trades are vaguely similar to the Monday trade for Athanasiou in terms of assets out, but it’s a stretch to suggest Holland’s acquisition compares to Legwand (a rental) or Quincey (a player not known for handsome trade return). If the player Edmonton acquired from Detroit Monday cashes in, the payoff should be substantial.
Athanasiou is an interesting player, because the 30-goal season made him a star and his follow-up season hasn’t been close to good enough. If we dig down on his work with specific centres this year, there are some interesting pieces of information. All numbers five on five, via Natural Stat Trick, sorted by minutes:
With Val Filppula: 301:04 minutes; 6 goals, 5 assists, 2.19 points per 60. Line was 14-29 (-15) goals and 134-163 (45.12 percent) shots.
It’s an astounding stats set — Athanasiou scores at what we might call reasonable expectations with Filppula, while the line gets thoroughly caved in goal differential. The shot differential for the line is poor, but the goals against total suggests goaltending might also be an issue. Time spent with Glendening must have been a nightmare and I’ll suggest he was unlucky (based on shot differential) to land 1-6 in goals with Larkin.
I think there is some risk in the Athanasiou trade, but these wonky numbers have me fascinated to see him on a line with a centre like Connor McDavid. Due respect to Filppula, but the young winger is going to receive an enormous upgrade at centre on his line in the coming days.
I think Holland’s risk is justified, providing Dave Tippett plays him with a skill centre.
Holland’s first deadline with the OilersI think the Oilers did a fine job on trade deadline day with what was available. The addition of Mike Green gives the team a veteran defenceman who can aid in multiple areas. The trade for Ennis is truly inspired, especially considering it took merely a depth pick to get it done.
This deadline will be remembered (good or bad) for Athanasiou, a former Red Wings winger acquired by Ken Holland. Based on his own history, Holland trading for Athanasiou was predictable. There are those who believe the outcome of the bet is also predictable.
I say there’s enough in the player’s resume to suggest he’ll have success if he plays with real skill. We wait.