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.


  • 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.


  • 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

The complete interview with Derek is available here. He is available on twitter here and the Fear The Fin blog is here. My sincere thanks to Derek for the opportunity.

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  • Jordan88

    Nurse is a warhorse.

    Nuge is a Warlord.

    Hall and Eberle can put the puck in the net.

    Dr.Drai is coming

    And McDavid is the second coming.

    Oilers Domination to Follow

  • Tirtle

    Never in my dreams did i think it was possible for this offseason to consist of getting Cherelli, McLellan and McDavid to get this franchise back on track. Now, lets keep Nelson behind that bench!

    • TKB2677

      I think Nelson would be a great assistant as long as McLlellan doesnt want his own or Nelson decides to look for a head position elsewhere. Who else knows the players better than Nelson.

  • freelancer

    I find it interesting the comment re: veterans. At some point, every player is a rookie, and has to be coached and mentored. I would expect Chiarelli to add a few veterans to mentor the young players. How is McLellan at coaching young players? Are they going to get a lot of play? Press box time?

    • Joy S. Lee

      Let’s see, off the top of my head, Pavelski, Couture and Vlasic seemingly came out of nowhere to succeed and sometimes dominate at the NHL level…that was noticeable. And let’s not forget that this is where Thornton actually took off as a player, and maintained a thoroughbred career throughout during the regular season, at least, under McLellan’s guidance.

      The current crop examples include young guys developing like Nieto and Hertl who have taken pretty darned good strides, pretty quickly, under TM.

      And he turned a solely offensive-minded Patrick Marleau into a top two-way guy, that could be noted. Also, he’s used to having an offensive-minded team, and a fairly unproven to weak goaltending in the system (San Jose). He could adapt quickly to this setup, because I’d suggest there’s a little more firepower in this lineup (and that firepower is youthful to the nth degree).

      Oh, and BTW, take a look at the age of Canada’s crop of players over at the world championships. Looks to me like McLellan doesn’t have any issues at all with young players – looks to me like they develop very nicely under his guidance. Did anybody mention how his teams are offensively productive, too… ?

  • freelancer

    I gave up on the oilers this year and I stopped coming to oilersnation.com, but with the ray of hope now beaming on Edmonton I can’t help but read everything on this site again.
    I’ve seen enough oilers vs sharks games in the recent past to know that we have an awesome coach coming to Edmonton. My take was that the oilers always played a dump and chase game and rarely came up with the puck. The sharks would rarely lose the puck in the offensive zone but if they did, the puck would get to the neutral zone and they would be on it again. The sharks were a hard team to play against and I hope McClellan turns the oilers into that kind of team.

  • Ready to Win

    “Since before the turn of the century, Edmonton’s power play has not been stellar.”

    Just a little nitpick.

    In 2011-2012 the Oilers had the 3rd best power play in the league and in 2013 they had the 8th best. (though in deference to McLellan, the Sharks had the 2nd and 7th in those years)

  • A-Mc

    It’s like Seabrook is the new Weber for Oiler Blogs. Its actually getting on my nerves! Can we please move on from the idea we’re getting Seabrook? PLZ

  • TKB2677

    Interesting to see the Dreger did an interview with both Babcock and Holland at the same time. If you intend on leaving the team, how likely are you going to sit down with your former boss for an interview to talk about your future? I’d say pretty slim.

  • freelancer

    Just by the little bit I have seen of Hall and Ebs at Worlds, I have faith in McLellan’s ability to change the way these younger guys play (back checking, covering the line) I am interested to see what happens if we watch a game where Hall makes a bad play that results in a loss. Does he sit the next game? The more general question is, will all players on this roster have the same accountability.

  • Ready to Win

    Great interview. I couldn’t help to think wherever Dallas Eakins lands, what torturous things would the Edm media & bloggers (accurately) say to someone in another market asking what they are getting.

  • Borbs

    The Oilers must have kicked the tires on Babcock first, and found out he ain’t coming here. But McLelland isn’t a bad 2nd choice. But the trick is to sign him before Babcock re-up’s with the Wings, therefore The Oilers can maybe get him a bit cheaper! Lord knows McLelland is using the World’s as an extended interview. I mean, why else have the top two wingers from the team you want a job with playing with Crosby? (Although, IMO, they deserve to be there anyways!!)

  • Ar_C

    I think Marc staal would be the perfect fit on Edm’s blue line. He’s a top pairing, shut down, veteran defenseman who could mentor Nurse and Klefbom. His price tag wouldn’t come close to Seabrooks but he provides the same basic skills. He’s also become the odd man out on New Yorks ridiculously deep blue line.

    • Ever the Optimist

      he is also signed for the long term and is only 28 … prime time for him. It would cost alot for him but well worth while even if he does shoot left.

  • KevCantDance

    Interesting…now that it’s a nearly guarantee we get Mclellan, all of a sudden Babcock is leaning to staying in Detroit…a place he was generally decided to be leaving. The most decorated coach in the game today didn’t get his first choice, so he’s likely just going home. Think about that. We got the best coach for our team too.

    • positivebrontefan

      I would love to see Edmonton sign McLellan, although I think Babcock may be the better coach, and see Babcock stay in Detroit, which means he stays in the east. Imagine the crying that would come out of Toronto.

    • Anton CP

      There’s no way Edmonton is trading Klefbom unless they’re getting a Shea Weber esque player in return. If Edmonton goes after Staal I could see them having to give up either the 16th overall pick or a pair of picks and a prospect not named nurse or draisaitl.

  • rayrayj

    I sure hope mclellan is locked up with the oilers,I like mclellan better then mike Babcock, I think how’s he’s got this world team playing they could have won a Olympic gold to,This team is playing amazing under Mclellan and I think we for sure have a gold or silver medal coming,so that’s one more thing to add to Todd’s resume,I still can’t believe how the past 2 months have went for the Edmonton oiler,#1 Bob nickelson (CEO)#2 Peter chair (president+GM)#3(Connor Mcdavid) #4 Todd Mclellan (coach),can I say wow,wow,wow its great to be a oilers fan!!!!Can’t wait to see who Peter trades or signs!!!

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    The McDavid effect….

    Nicholson CEO… Chiarelli President/GM… Mclellan Head Coach… Free Agent Signings July 1…


  • nuge2drai

    Love the thought of Burns but hate the thought of giving up Ebs for him.Burns is like a Swiss Army knife in that he can play wing or D.Can you imagine him parking in front of the other teams net on the PP.What would he cost?Whats his contract?He did say McLellan is the best coach he ever played for.There is your heavy player Chiarelli.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Todd MacLellan has a great track record as head coach of the Sharks. The difference between those Sharks teams and our current Oilers is vast, to put it mildly.

    We don’t have a big #1 centerman that can lead the league in assists and takeaways at any given year. I love the Nuge, but he isn’t anywhere nearly as dominant as Jumbo Joe. We also don’t have a 40+ goal scorer as the #2 centerman behind Joe in Pavelski. Tack on Marleau and Couture and the foward corps in San Jose is much deeper, bigger, and mature.

    The blueline and goaltending is obviously better. So to think that a new coach, with the CURRENT Oiler team will make them world beaters is rediculous. You can’t paint a Picasso with dog ship!!

    Now if Chia can bolster the team and change a few of the Oilers facets, that is a different story. Time will tell.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I’m 100% behind McLellan. I just watched the Babcock/Holland interview on TSN and I couldn’t help but think, ‘What the hell is this?’ It was mostly Babcock rambling about his special relationship with Holland.

    Earlier, someone called Babcock a prima donna and I laughed it off. After the ‘tour the league’ crap, how his apparent motivator is money, and now this strange dual interview with Holland, I can’t help but think he might sort of be one.

    Your record speaks for itself, just make a friggin decision.

    Date McLellan!