At 12:30 MST the Oilers organization is expected to announce during a press conference in Oklahoma City that Todd Nelson will be the head coach in OKC, and if you are like me, you’ll be wondering who is Todd Nelson.
Nelson played four years in the WHL with Prince Albert, racking up 59 points as a 19-year-old D-man. He was a 4th round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1989, but never played a game for them. He did play two games for the Washington Capitals in 1993/1994 and scored a goal.
He was a journeyman minor leaguer. He played six years in the now defunct IHL, three years in the AHL, one year in Germany and ended his playing career as a player/coach for the Muskegon Fury in the UHL in 2002.
The next year he was an assistant with Grand Rapids in the AHL, and then became the head coach of Muskegon. He won two championships in his first two years behind the bench of the Fury in 2004 and 2005.
He became an assistant coach of the Chicago Wolves in 2006/2007 and they won the Calder Cup in 2008. For the past two years he was an assistant for the Atlanta Thrashers.
He won a Calder Cup in 1994 with the Portland Pirates, and despite only playing two years with the Pirates, he was inducted into their hall of fame in 2007.
In a strange twist, Nelson will replace Rob Daum, who was an assistant in Prince Albert when Nelson was a puck-moving D-man.
I’m sure you are saying thanks for the www.hockeydb.com update Gregor, but there isn’t much more to say about Nelson.
After hearing Nelson’s name yesterday, the original reaction from many was how is he a better choice than Daum?
If Daum had coached anywhere other than the U of A, would most Oiler fans think as highly of him? Daum is a familiar name around Edmonton, and his success as head coach of the Bears speaks for itself, but his pro record isn’t as solid. And I never got the feeling that Daum was one of Tambellini’s guys, and that is a huge factor in any organization.
It is too early to tell if Nelson is more qualified, but in six seasons as a minor league coach, he has been part of three championship teams.
From a few brief conversations I’ve had today trying to find out who Nelson is, it sounds like he likes to play an aggressive, up-tempo game. Any coach worth a grain of salt has to be able to coach any style of play, but every coach likes a certain style and if Nelson can get Oiler prospects to be on the puck in all areas of the ice he’ll be an asset.
WHO WILL HE DEVELOP?
The Oilers are determined to be more competitive in the AHL this year, considering all of the veteran players they’ve signed recently. But I don’t see any of them, Richard Petiot, Alex Giroux, Brad Moran, Shawn Belle or Ben Ondrus being future Oilers for a significant period of time.
Nelson’s biggest concern should be developing Taylor Chorney, Jeff Petry, Alex Plante and Theo Peckham. Nelson was a puck-moving D-man, and I’m guessing he will work closely with all four, and if he can develop two to them to be legitimate NHLers then his hiring will be a success. Chorney needs to make better decisions, and Petry has to learn to play the pro game. Puck-moving d-men who are solid defensively are a must for any contending team in the NHL, so developing Petry and Chorney, and to an extent Plante should be a main priority.
Up front he will have the likes of Chris Vande Velde, Linus Omark (guessing), Ryan O’Marra, Milan Kytnar and maybe Philippe Cornet. Outside of Omark, who might be ready, the rest will need a few years to work on their game.
OKC will be competitive, but ultimately Nelson will be graded on how he develops the young kids. Over the course of the next few years, if he nurtures and develops their games so they can contribute in Edmonton, then he’s done his job.