IMPORTANT: COACHING AND SCHULTZ

The Stanley Cup Finals start on Wednesday, and usually The Count, Gary Bettman, doesn’t like other teams to make any announcements during the Finals, so unless the Oilers hold a press conference tomorrow, unlikely, you will have to wait until after the Kings raise the Cup to find out who will become the 11th man to coach your beloved Oilers.

I believe 11 is a very lucky number, and whoever has the chance to decide if Hall, Eberle and RNH should be a line for the next few seasons, will have a pretty good chance to be successful. He’ll need a few more established defenders, and some size up front, but I could see the next coach having a pretty good chance to become only the 4th coach in Oiler history to have at least 100 career wins.

Glen Sather had 464, Craig MacTavish won 301 while Ron Low had 139 wins.

Steve Tambellini can’t afford to hire the wrong guy, like the Oilers did on three other occasions.  Bryan Watson lasted only 18 games in 1980/1981 going 4-9-5 before Sather stepped back behind the bench. George Burnett  was axed after 35 unproductive games in 1994/1995 with a woeful 12-20-3 record and Pat Quinn, despite being a great guy and excellent post-game quote, didn’t do much better in his lone season on the bench.

The Oilers don’t need to rush this decision, they just need to hire the right guy. 

NEW TWIST

The Anaheim Ducks have 25 days to either sign Schultz or trade him and get something in return. The Wisconsin D-man is a hot commodity, and many teams, including the Oilers, would love to acquire or sign him this summer.

Minnesota beat reporter Mike Russo said this about Schultz last week when he was filling in on KFAN in Minny. 

"Lot of people asking me about Justin Schultz. What happened today (withdrawing from school) is a formality. Schultz has been playing hardball from Anaheim since they thought they were signing him at the end of the year. Really at the end of the regular season they thought they were putting him in the lineup. Schultz is a Wisconsin defenseman."

"I think somebody has gotten to Schultz, and told him ‘come here, come here.’ And I think that we’ll know who that team is, come July 1 wherever he signs. And that’s why I don’t think the Wild have a chance with him. Of course the Wild would be interested in someone like him."

"But he has his mind set on going to one specific team right now. And whatever that team is, I guarantee you the Anaheim Ducks will go after them with a tampering charge, because the Anaheim Ducks have been building that case for the last couple of months. They have all sorts of e-mails from him basically saying, ‘I’m coming there, I’m coming there,’ and suddenly, for some reason, he’s not coming there."

 Russo didn’t name the team on air, but on twitter he mentioned Toronto as the likely destination. At theleafsnation.com Danny Gray broke down the story from a Leafs perspective.

Earlier this year Bob McKenzie tweeted that he felt the Oilers were a front runner to land Schultz. Legally the Oilers can’t talk to him, but Tambellini can chat with Ducks GM, Bob Murray. It is clear that the Ducks and Schultz are going to part ways, so Tambellini needs to be on the phone with Murray as often as possible.

Schultz is what the Oilers need.

A right-handed, puck moving D-man with very good hockey sense. Schultz’ former teammate at Wisconsin, Jake Gardiner, plays for the Leafs, so I’m sure they have spoken about playing in Toronto. But other than that tight friendship, I don’t see many other factors why the Schultz camp would pick Toronto over the Oilers.

He’d have a better chance putting up points and earning more money on a second contract playing with  Eberle, Hall, RNH, Hemsky and this year’s 1st overall pick, compared to Kessel, Lupul, Grabovski, Bozak and the 5th pick.

The Leafs have more depth and skill on their blueline than the Oilers, so if Schultz is looking for icetime, he’ll have a better chance of getting quality minutes in Edmonton.

Tambellini needs to find a way to land Schultz, and trading with the Ducks might be his best option.

QUICK HITS

  • The Oilers have a few more days to sign 2010 draft picks Brandon Davidson, Jeremie Blain, Drew Czerwonka and Kellen Jones, or they lose their rights and those four will go back in the draft. They won’t sign Jones. They like Davidson’s character a lot, so barring a contract dispute, which is unlikely, he’ll sign. The Oilers have already signed seven picks (Hall, Pitlick, Marincin, Hamilton, Martindale, Bunz and Pelss) from 2010, and I don’t think it would be smart to lock up 20% of your 50-man roster from one draft year. I could see one of Blain and Czerwonka signing, but I don’t see the need to sign both based on their level of play.
     
  •  The Oilers have never had more than five players from one draft year play more than 100 NHL. In 2003, they drafted 12 players and Kyle Brodziak has turned out to be the best. He’s played 419 NHL games while Zack Stortini 257, Marc Pouliot 192, JF Jacques 166 and Troy Bodie 107 were the others. Other than Brodziak, the rest have been 4th line role players.
     
  • If you actually believe Martin Brodeur is just an above average goalie, then I question how much you know about hockey.  It really is that simple. The fact he is in the Cup finals at his age, shows how great he once was. He isn’t the best goalie in the league today, but he knows how to win. I don’t care what his sv% was, even though it was usually very solid, when you ask players who played against him, they say he was incredibly hard to score on and rarely got rattled.
     
  • This is what pending UFA Brandon Prust said earlier today when cleaning out his locker, "Money is a factor, but it’s not the biggest factor for me…I want to be a big part of a winning team, like I am here." We’ll see if he stays true to that or lets the money talk come July 1st.
     
  • Best stat to showcase who much the Oil Kings improved this year.  They won 67 games this year, including playoffs and Memorial Cup. They had 67 wins combined in their first three regular seasons. Great job by Bob Greene, Derek Laxdal and the players.
     
  • Zach Parise will get a big contract this summer regardless of how he plays in the Finals, however, pending UFAs like Ryan Carter, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Steve Bernier, Stephen Gionta, Peter Harrold, Bryce Salvador, Jarret Stoll and Dustin Penner will likely garner more interest due to their play. Guys like Carter and Gionta could really cash in, if they continue to play like they have in the first three rounds.
     
  • I set a goal to raise $50,000 for MS this year. I’m currently at $43,229 (I have $3,000 in cheques that aren’t accounted for on site yet). Any donation would be great and much appreciated, as we try to reach $50,000 by June 8th. Thanks. Click here to donate.
  • Oilfan69

    No, of course you couldn’t hire him only for that reason, but if he is a good coach, that is liked and respected, and we are looking at a coaching change anyways…….

    This would only work if he is a coach with a bright future that is close to NHL ready anyways. Then it would be awful nice to have someone here that J.S. likes and respects to sway his decision towards us.

    2 additional top 4 d, a little added toughness or size up front, more playing time for DD, another year of maturity for the kids and a coach that can potentially get more commitment and effort from them as a whole.

    This year could be a huge step forward……and maybe if we are all good….playoffs……or at least a playoff race with meaningful games.

  • DSF

    Jason, or anyone in the know.
    How is Justin Schultz’ relationship with his current coach? How is his current coach?

    Just spit balling here, but what if the oilers hired him as an assistant, or if they decided to promote nelson to this big club and replace him with J.S. College coach?

    Could be a familiar face to help him through the struggles of a new team, league etc…..

    Would love to get J.S. and if the coach is good it may make sense.

    • Jason Gregor

      Coach is Mike Eaves…He is comfortable in Wisconsin and not leaving. Plus you don’t hire a coach, just because he has a good relationship with one player. Won’t happen.