The number one reason Todd Nelson should be considered as permanent
coach of the Edmonton Oilers: His impressive (but very short) track
record in the NHL with slumping or slumbering prospects.

On the current
NHL roster, there are several men who were not tracking as
successful prospects but have turned things around, plus a few callups showing well.

  • Nail
    since January 1: 26GP, 5-8-13 and despite struggling in the
    possession numbers at 5×5, Yak City has been visually a different
    player. I’m absolutely a believer in advanced stats but the young
    Russian seems to be in better spots, is using his considerable skill
    more and (to me) is keeping it simpler (and more productive) under
    Nelson. Are my eyes lying to me? Could be, it’s happened before.
    Certainly Yakupov has seen a slight improvement in his shooting
    percentage since the All-Star break which has been an issue all year.
  • Oscar
    since January 1: 25GP, 2-8-10 and an emerging talent. The
    Oilers have never had a Calder winner (Rookie of the Year) but he’s
    absolutely one of the best rookies in the league this season based on
    his top-end performances. Consistency is an issue but that’s true with
    all young defenders.
  • Anton Lander since
    January 1: 21GP, 4-6-10. A completely different player, it’s amazing.
    The young man is just 23 and was on waivers earlier in the season.
    Nelson’s handling of Lander has been expert to my eye and cannot be
    overlooked. What is the value of a useful two-way center? If Lander
    turns into Marty Reasoner, what is that worth to the organization?
  • Matt
    since January 1: 21GP, 2-4-6. You can see why the Oilers put in a
    waiver claim, the young man can score goals (first-shot scorer) but the
    foot speed is an issue. Combined with a veteran like Teddy Purcell (who
    is also slower), this might not be the ideal team for Fraser to
    establish himself as an NHL player.
  • Martin
    since January 1: 12GP, 0-0-0, playing more than 17 minutes a
    night and posting a shot possession number of 47.6% despite tough
    competition and zone starts (most of his minutes are with Mark Fayne).
  • Iiro
    since January 1: 12GP, 0-2-2, playing 11:41 a night. This is a
    pretty big damn deal, getting a player for nothing. His injury (as with
    Lander) obscures the feat but he’s another guy who could help with
    depth next season.
  • Ryan Hamilton since
    January 1: 11GP, 1-1-2. He’s a big guy with speed issues but the key
    here is Nelson chose him from the group of available AHL players.
    Edmonton signed him to a contract for next season and that may suggest
    he’s part of the plan.
  • Jordan Oesterle
    since January 1: 4GP, 0-1-1. Speedy defender with some skills and some
    chaos, Nelson inserted him into the lineup and he’ll get 200 at-bats or
    so before the end of the year.

has done fine work with two first-round picks (Klefbom and Yakupov) and
several depth picks, castoffs and also-rans. There’s no proof these men
are flourishing because of the new coach—they might have done the same
thing under Dallas Eakins—but for an organization looking to fill five
or six holes this summer, the developing minor league players are a big
damn deal. The success of Lander and Marincin specifically under the new coach has to count as positive arrows for the new coach.

Todd Nelson has done enough to show he’s worthy of a 2015-16 contract. Hire the man.

  • m@s f@s

    I think you have to wait till the off season to make a decision on Nelson, cause if good club bombs and a Hitch or Boudreau shakes loose you have to go with track record.

    Looking at Oilers recent stats, it seems that the soft parade partners Shultz and Klefbom are getting lit up. I think the question is what to do about Schultz. I wonder if we can trade him for anything? He’s the albatross of this team. Klefbom is carrying him.

  • Serious Gord

    Nelson is a coach that is all about winning. This is his first year ever coaching a team which is not in the playoffs. And AND it is not his fault that he now will have a mark on this record of not being in the playoffs since he was handed a sunken ship.
    I mean again I preach Nelson is a winner! just look at his record… never missed the playoffs. Its in his blood to winning. If you want a leader for a team you don’t look at the man wearing the “C” you look at the coach. and Nelson is a leader and winner. players want to play for him… that simple.
    I mean look at Eakins history of coaching… playoffs like twice the whole time! and Nelson… made the playoffs every year!
    yes for me I would choose Nelson over another coach.

    1. What type of players are on the ice, how they are preforming, and how competitive they are under the Nelson. Like above how he is taking players in the system and making them valuable! Ask yourself would Babcock really do any better?

    2. This allows Edmonton to promote from within in which is always a better option if available.

    3. Can you think of anything Negative about Nelson?

    GIVE NELSON THE POSITION!!!! I am sure all players will be happy about this decision.

    • Serious Gord

      He has thirty games experience in the NHL. In the offseason there will be several options available with 20 times that number.

      No one else is going to hire nelson away between now and the end of the season, so why Rush?

      Typical oiler fan panic that got the org into the mess it is.

      • camdog

        I don’t mind waiting until the summer to see what’s out there. However your premise that Nelson is an old boy is incorrect. He had to work his way through the system, much like Babcock started out with the Ducks AHL affiliate. Babcock spent 2 years developing in the American league before being promoted to head coach of the Ducks. I am sure the Ducks aren’t kicking themselves for hiring a coach that they developed….

  • camdog

    Why is Tippet getting bought out? Arizona has a lot of money invested in him, if he is going to quit on the rebuild in the desert, why would we want him here?

  • Serious Gord

    There is so much negativity surrounding this team from media to fans that any tiny glimmer of hope like what Nelson brings is so welcomed that it is blinding. Even if Babcock did want to sign here as good of a coach that he is could he possibly get more out these guys than Nelson?
    Despite what Serious Gord thinks and who cares, Nelson just feels right and any coach who can make an AHL team competitive in the NHL like the Oilers has got something going for him.
    He reminds me of Jon Cooper Tampa Bays coach not a bad thing.

  • charlie manson

    The biggest highlight of this Oilers season was the firing of Eakins…..the biggest surprise is Nelson….i think he is doing a great job,I think he’s earned the job.

  • WTF2

    Julian has done well with a questionable squad. That being said I am not 100% sure he is the man.

    Think it would be smart to consider all of the available options following the end of the season.

  • S cottV

    A huge problem with the organization, from the very top down – is serious under estimation of the task at hand.

    The task – becoming a consistent playoff team and eventual Stanley Cup contender.

    To think that less than the very best candidate available for the head coach position will do – is to continue the pattern.

    That being said – I doubt any first tier coaches are beating down the door to coach here, without a jaw dropping over pay.

  • camdog

    The Oilers need to hire an experienced NHL coach who is not beholding to MacT or 6 rings.

    I like Nelson a lot but he is not NHL ready. The pressure is off and the Oilers are only able to win 50% of their games.

    Look what the flames did with weak lineup and an experienced coach.

  • Serious Gord

    They do have to wait until the end of the season to make a proper assessment and I agree with Gregor on this point. I do not agree with Gregor when he apparently has the view that the quality of the coach does not have much of an impact.

    I say perhaps not at the high end of coaches but we have all seen the damage that having a less than stellar coach caused in Vancouver and Edmonton. Also sometimes you need a different coach for a young hockey team vs a team that is a contender

  • m@s f@s

    Allan, you are one of the best writers covering the Oilers……..but your inability to process something so obvious ( Nelsons vs Eakins) is very confounding.

    I know that you love stats and need this to prove what is patently obvious to most hockey fans……..but to say you are not sure ‘ these player are flourshing under Nelson”, is just plain stupid!

    How did you ever function before stats came along?

  • Serious Gord

    what’s with all the talk about Babcock? He’s the equivalent of a Hossa or Heatley in terms of an off-season acquisition. There’s no way he signs here. The team has been in the bottom 5 of the league consistently since 06 outside of the recent lockout year and he has no ties here, he was born in eastern Canada. If he were to sign based on old ties he would sign with the Maple Leafs which is the biggest rumor out there.

    I think the Oilers should look at outside candidates and do their due diligence. They have from mid-April until late summer when rookie camp starts. I mean they can explain to Nelson that they don’t want to make the same mistakes that they did with Eakins where they really didn’t do a thorough search for a coach because of how much Eakins impressed Mactavish.

  • m@s f@s

    Time to get a coach that’s willing to scream at underachieving slacking spoiled silver – spooned brats, and motivating to ‘stud’ rookies. I don’t care which coach, no more favoritism.

  • Serious Gord

    Most people here talk about NHL coaching experience, hire coaches with lots of NHL games under their belt.

    Well every coach has to start from somewhere right? If you don’t give new coaches a chance to coach in NHL, where would they get experience from? Babcock did that too, he had to start somewhere and then he landed Red Wings head coach (Detroit has good scouting and players development program, they get good players in later rounds since they always pick 20-30th each year).

    There are older NHL coaches got fired by so many teams and their coaching practice is not working with modern players now. Look at Mike Keenan, he’s in KHL now, he won only 1 cup. Ken Hitchcock won only 1 cup, his teams do well in regular season but playoffs time the team choked.

    Mike Babcock is a good coach, he lost 2 cup finals and won only 1 with Detroit.

    The coach can only do so much with his team, the players he has will carry the load to winning.

    Hepefully Oilers get a few more players for next season for Nelson to lead this team to playoffs.

  • m@s f@s

    Like many of UFA’s who dont want to come to the Oilers , what makes you think that a seasoned
    NHL coach would want come here.

    The roster sucks big time, and no turn around in sight. Most of the line up is made of third and fourth line players not coming from development, but NHL rejects/has beens and AHL grinders.

    To top it off, you have the Troika from the Ivory tower running this team ….basically into the ground.

    Why would Babcock and company want come to the Oilers… its like driving and Indy car and you ask them to come to Edmonton to drive in the
    Demolishon Derby.

  • chickenStew

    You know who the Oilers could really use…Bob Hartley.
    But just like you do about our big, mature, 2-way centre beast called Monahan…keep dreaming. As long as your organization employs such a disgraceful management team, the riches come to Calgary and the spoils to the Oil.

    Think it’s bad now? Just wait until you see Bennett in the lineup next year…

    ps > Flames @ Senators tonight, going for 4 in a row even without Giordano. That’s what can be accomplished when you play as a team, for the team. It’s called heart.

  • Visually McDavid

    I’m a little confused as to why everyone is so bent on them conducting interviews. It is still Mac T and co. doing the hiring. The last time Mac T tried to conduct interviews he hired Eakins on the spot for a position that wasn’t even vacant. Why do we believe his judgement will be any better this time around? This is a man who just held a press conference to announce that he thinks Nikitin is a top 4 defenseman!

    I like that Nelson has worked extensively with the oilers own prospects. Marincin, Lander and Klef didn’t have to prove themselves as they would have under a new coach, they were confident that Nelson already knew their capabilities and trusted them to do the jobs they were tasked with. I think this allowed all three to hit the ground running.

    As fans of these perpetual basement dwellers we have all become pretty familiar with the team’s prospects and I love that Nelson is invested in the same guys that we’re all cheering for to make the jump, rather than forcing us watch Acton or Mark Fraser take up roster sports.

    Based on Yak’s resurgence Nelson has proven himself capable of working with top end prospects, which is great considering Nurse and possibly even Drai are likely penciled in for next year’s roster.

    As far as I’m concerned I would rather bet on Nelson than on Mac T’s decision making abilities. Hire the man.

  • Derzie

    I read the headline. Without reading any of the article, I can say that you’ve given up hope. Look at your record. Look at your trajectory (today’s game for example). You do not have the coach for the future yet. Keep looking. Again, the team record trajectory says it all.Todd is ‘visually better’ than Eakins, but the win/loss results are very similar.