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When Ken Holland was working for the Detroit Red Wings he knew Leon Draisaitl was good, but maybe not this good.
Fifty goals last season, the scoring title now. The daily double.
“Leon had the most points in the NHL and he’s only 24 years old,” said the Edmonton Oilers general manager. “Certainly a tremendous accomplishment, another stepping stone in his career. Credit to his commitment, his passion, the hard work, the determination over the last three, four, five seasons to take steps forward.
“Being in Detroit for so many years, we had lots of really talented players there and there’s an evolution of a player individually and as a team and certainly, ultimately, the most important thing is the Stanley Cup, which is a team goal, but certainly you need individual players to take on big responsibilities and at the same time work in a chemistry standpoint.”
In Detroit, Holland was blessed to have nine Hall of Famers on his 2002 Cup winner — Steve Yzerman, Nick Lidstrom, Brendan Shanahan, Brett Hull, Igor Larionov, Luc Robitaille, Dominik Hasek, Sergei Fedorov, and Chris Chelios.
In Edmonton, Connor McDavid has won the Hart trophy (2107) and Draisaitl may follow suit whenever the NHL Hockey Writers Association votes on it.
“As a general manager, and if you’re a fan of the Edmonton Oilers, we’re very fortunate to have two great players 23 and 24 years of age and they’re really, just coming into their prime years as athletes,” said Holland.
THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE
Canadian women’s goalie Shannon Szabados offered up her two funny cents on NHL playoff games with no spectators in the building.
“Happy the NHL is back but without fans how do we expect players to know when to shoot the puck? How will opposing goalies know they suck?” said Szabados, in a juicy twitter feed.
STILL QUESTIONS ON PHASE 2
Holland knows players from other NHL teams who live here (Jake DeBrusk, Mark Pysyk, Carter Hart) can theoretically use OilerS team facilities as part of the return to play format for Phase 2, according to the league, but he’s in the dark on how the six-player sessions at Rogers Place will work starting in early June.
“First off, I don’t know how many Oiler players will be in Edmonton for Phase 2. There’s a lot of unknowns. I’m trying to figure out myself how many of our players we’ll have. We’ll go per rules and recommendations but I’m not sure how many of our own we’ll have. Have to figure that out.”
McDavid, Darnell Nurse, Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins aren’t in Edmonton right now. The first three back East, Nugent-Hopkins is B.C., Alex Chiasson, Matt Benning, Kris Russell and farmhands Tyler Benson and Stuart Skinner are in town or close by.
“I’m letting my players make their own decisions (where to skate) as Phase 2 is voluntary. Nuge is staying in Vancouver for the time being,” said Nugent-Hopkins’ agent Rick Vallette.
Bruins winger DeBrusk, son of SportsNet’s Louie, has a condo here.
“I’m back home in Edmonton but not sure if I’m even allowed to skate at Rogers at this point. It’s being talked about but there’s no decision as far as I know,” said DeBrusk in a text.
The ice is in the process of being put back into Rogers, but not at the adjacent Downtown Development Arena, at this point.
This ’n that: We’ve heard lots of names for Oilers with their first-round pick, but best one at No. 20 (for their needs) is Portland right-winger Seth Jarvis (42 goals, 98 points). He’s a bigger Kailer Yamamoto (five-foot-10, 172 pounds). Yamamoto (five-foot-eight, 155) had 42 goals and 99 points when Oilers took him at No. 22 in 2017. “Jarvis is a driver, likes to go through the middle of the ice,” said The Hockey Writer’s ace draft guy Larry Fisher … While the NHL wants hub cities but not host cities, with no fans in the buildings for playoff games that’s hardly home-rink advantage. Home dressing room maybe. What NHL’s really worried about, if they let, say, Edmonton and Columbus become hub city and stay as host city they’re both are Cup contenders and would have a leg up … If the Oilers call up Evan Bouchard and William Lagesson from Bakersfield for the restart that will give them the 10 D they want … While Cam Talbot and Jay Woodcroft’s U of Alabama Huntsville alma mater has a push on to save the hockey program there, three Sherwood Park Crusaders alum have committed there for 2021 — forwards Will Zapernick, Jarred White and Jacob Franczak. Franczak could go back to junior. Zapernick (88 points) has several other college options, reportedly Minnesota Duluth and Colgate. Liam Izyk, who played in Fort McMurray, a sophomore, has already transferred to Boston College with the uncertainty of the program … Jari Kurri on Jesse Puljujarvi: “Point-wise was OK, but Finnish League is not that strong anymore.” The Oiler winger, who has lots of skill, had 53 points in 56 games for Karpat. Kurri, in charge of Helsinki Jokerit in the KHL, hopes the season isn’t derailed. “It’s planning to start in early September but nobody knows yet,” said Kurri. One-time Oiler Iiro Pakarinen just signed to play there for three years…Ex Oiler centre Mark Letestu, who missed the whole Winnipeg Jets regular-season with a heart condition, is healthy as he waits out COVID-19 at his home in Columbus, and could be added to the Jets’ roster for the playoffs.
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