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Holland leaves Oilers; CEO searching for new GM before starting negotiations with Draisaitl

CEO of Hockey Operations for the Edmonton Oilers, Jeff Jackson' left and president of hockey operations Ken Holland speak during a press conference in Edmonton on Thursday August 3, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson CEO of Hockey Operations for the Edmonton Oilers, Jeff Jackson' left and president of hockey operations Ken Holland speak during a press conference in Edmonton on Thursday August 3, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
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Ken Holland is out as Edmonton Oilers president of hockey operations and general manager.

He joined the Oilers in May 2019 and his contract ends this Sunday.

The team's CEO of hockey operations told reporters he talked to Holland throughout the season and they mutually decided to part ways.

"It's been a real pleasure working with Ken," Jeff Jackson said from Las Vegas Thursday morning.

"I met with Ken yesterday to formalize really a discussion that had been ongoing during the season. Not a surprise to Ken or to me that we mutually decided that this was the best thing. I think he was ready to move and we're gonna go in a different direction."

Holland, who won four Stanley Cups as the Detroit Red Wings general manager, made a number of big moves during his time in Edmonton.

His highlights include trading for Mattias Ekholm, signing Zach Hyman and Evander Kane, and drafting Philip Broberg and Dylan Holloway.

The signing of goalie Jack Campbell for $25 million over five years did not work out for the Oilers, and the contract Holland gave to Darnell Nurse — eight years with an average of $9.25 million per season — has received strong criticism.

What's next for the Oilers?

With a late finish to the season and without a general manager, Jackson says the Oilers are "sort of behind the eight ball" ahead of the draft and free agency but he's confident his front office and scouts will get the job done.

Jackson's priority is hiring a new general manager before starting contract discussions with star forward Leon Draisaitl.

"People I want to talk to are intricate parts of other organizations. I'm anticipating I'm gonna have to be a bit patient with that and get through the next few days. But I'm OK with that. I want to do this the right way, I want to get the right person. I don't have a timeframe for it. Obviously it's a big priority," Jackson said.

"I think it's critically important that the general manager is in place before we get into the meat of that discussion with [Draisaitl] because I'm sure for Leon and his representatives, they're going to want to know what the vision is, who the GM is…it's a big move and it's a commitment from Leon."

Extending Draisaitl is "of critical importance," Jackson added.

But while Draisaitl has a year left in his contract, a number of Oilers are free agents as of next Monday, including: Connor Brown, Warren Foegele, Adam Henrique, Mattias Janmark, Corey Perry and Sam Carrick.

Jackson said the Oilers want to bring the team back but will tinker with it a little bit. They're going to look at ways to free up money, Jackson said, but he would not comment on whether the team plans to buy Campbell out.

"Being realistic, I don't know if we'll get everybody back or not. We got to try. We got to work around cap issues and things like that."