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Oilers GM waiting for details from NHL, looking forward to showdown with Chicago

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The 2019/20 NHL regular season has been declared over but not all questions have been answered.

Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland said he’s waiting to find out what happens with conditional trades and contract bonuses.

“I sent in some questions to the league yesterday. I know lots of other managers did, too. We’ll wait for those answers.”

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James Neal scored 19 goals for the Oilers. He was acquired in an off-season trade with Calgary for Milan Lucic, who has eight goals. If Neal scored 21 and outscored Lucic by 10 or more goals, the Oilers would also have to surrender a third-round pick in the deal.

Also, goaltender Mike Smith had various levels of games played in his contract that trigger bonuses. Smith played 39 games and would have earned another $250,000 for hitting 40.

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If the NHL decides to prorate stats to 82 games, the Oilers would have to give the Flames the pick, and Smith would get his bonus.

As for the tournament format, Holland isn’t complaining about being seeded fifth in the West and looking at a qualifying round series against 12th-seeded Chicago.

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“I’d heard for a while there was talk of a best-of-three in the play-in round. I’m glad it’s a best-of-five,” said Holland.

“There might be a little rust in the first game or two, but over the course of a five-game series, it’s an opportunity to, if you get off to a sluggish start, get back in the series.”

Holland is also waiting for the final word on how he can construct his roster for the series.

“We probably are going to carry 10 defenceman. Goalies are unlimited, so we’re working off a 28-skater list. You’re for sure going to need 16 or 17 forwards.

“We’re really waiting for the union and the league to give us exact instructions for what the numbers are.”

Defenceman Philip Broberg, who was drafted eighth overall by the Oilers last June, could be an option. Holland had said earlier that he’d like Broberg to play in Sweden for another season, but that was before this unusual tournament was on the table.

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“He’s a signed player. We signed him to a contract last summer. He’s a player who is eligible to invite to Phase 3. Not sure if we’re going to do it or not,” explained Holland.

Phase 2 of the NHL’s return to play could start in early June, with players having the option to workout in small groups in team facilities.

Phase 3 would be training camp, which wouldn’t happen before the first half of July.

Phase 4, which is competition, would be in late July at the earliest.