Earlier this week, I had a chance to speak to Derek at Fear the Fin about Todd McLellan. His insight into McLellan’s handling of the roster and the things he’ll in his next NHL job do to improve the on-ice performance was fascinating.
THE POWER PLAY
- Derek/Fear the Fin: “I think this is a great hire for Edmonton. I think the main thing you can expect from McLellan—especially with the personnel he’s now going to have in Edmonton—the power play is going to be fantastic. The Sharks have routinely the best power play in the league in terms of shot metrics and conversion percentage.”
Since before the turn of the century, Edmonton’s power play has not been stellar. Even in the 2005-06 season, the club’s success with the man advantage was good for only No. 14 overall. In what can only be called irony, the Oilers were No. 19 overall this past season courtesy a tremendous late season surge under interim coach Todd Nelson. It’s interesting to note Jordan Eberle was playing the point on the power play at times during the World Hockey Championships this month.
AT EVEN STRENGTH
- Derek/Fear the Fin: “He plays a bit of a conservative system in the neutral zone, there’s a lot of dump and chase hockey but it works unlike your average dump and chase team because they play a very aggressive forecheck. It’s the two-on-two offensive forecheck the Kings and the Blues have had a lot of success with. The defenseman on the strong side will pinch to keep the puck in the zone and the extra forward (high forward) will cycle back to cover him on the point.”
Oilers fans will recognize the “pinch” portion but the “cover” from the extra forward was an area of consistent break down (leading to millions of two on one’s over the years). The buy in from some of the gifted forwards will need to be there and that may offer Todd McLellan a big, early challenge should he become Edmonton’s head coach.
- Derek/Fear the Fin: “For most of his (San Jose) tenure it was pretty much a puck mover with a stay-at-home type on the blue line. We saw a bit of a shift the last few years as the Sharks acquired more puck-moving guys. For the most part I think he’s going to look to shelter more offensive types with a defensive defenseman.”
The Oilers have some promising young defensemen in men like Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse, but they’ll need time (and a quality partner) to show them the ropes. I would suggest a pairing like Klefbom with Justin Schultz isn’t going to cut it with McLellan, if only because of the lack of experience on that pairing is a recipe for chaos.
A guess would be Schultz has his minutes backed off and plays third-pairing with Andrew Ference, but there’s miles to go before fall and change is in the air. It’s fairly certain Oscar Klefbom will be thrust into a feature role, perhaps with an experienced player like Brent Seabrook who would be brought in from another organization.
The Oilers are going to have to adjust, and of course coach Todd McLellan (should he be the next coach) will need to tailor his style in order to fit the considerable speed and skill on the Edmonton roster. It’s also true the team, as it is currently constructed, may not fit the coach’s style enough for us to consider the current group a plug-and-play for McLellan.
We should expect:
- Additional veterans on defense
- Size/puck retrieval on the wings and defense
- A fantastic power play
- More discipline from the young skill forwards
summer could end with the Oilers having Todd McLellan and Peter
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