Tuesday Musings: McLellan, Hall and more

The World Championships concluded on Sunday with Canada winning Gold for the first time since 2007. Canada dominated the tournament outscoring their opponents 66-15 on their way to a perfect 10-0 record.

Jason Spezza led the tournament with 14 points and was named an all-star. Jordan Eberle was second in scoring with 13 points, while Taylor Hall finished third with 12 points and was named an all-star. Hall’s seven goals were third most in the tourney, Tyler Seguin (9) and Filip Forsberg (8) had more, but all of Hall’s goals came at even strength. Seguin had five PP goals and Forsberg had two.

For the Oilers and their fans, the 2015 off-season just continues to get better.

Todd McLellan also won gold, and he will be announced as the 13th head coach (Todd Nelson was interim, so I didn’t include him) in Oilers history later today. He made a very good first impression with Hall and Eberle by playing them with Sidney Crosby for much of the tournament, and they performed well.

Did McLellan know he’d be the next head coach of the Oilers prior to the start of the tournament? We will never know for sure, but playing two of his best forwards with the best player in the world was a very smart move if he wanted those two to learn a few things from Mr. Crosby that could help them and him in Edmonton.

The Oilers have many holes to fill, but adding McLellan along with general manager Peter Chiarelli last month gives the Oilers significantly more experience at key positions within the organization. Now it will be up to Chiarelli, with some input from McLellan I’m sure, to inject some more experience into the roster.

WINNING…

What will winning the WC mean for Hall and Eberle? It won’t guarantee them success in the NHL, but it will make their summer a lot shorter and much more enjoyable. “It was nice to be around a winning atmosphere again,” said Hall. “You almost forget how fun and addictive it is to win. I learned a lot.”

It was the fourth championship of Hall’s career. He won gold at the U18 in 2008, and at the Memorial Cup in 2009 and 2010, but for the past five seasons he and Eberle have endured more losing than any players in the NHL. Both of them were extremely jubilant after Sunday’s victory over Russia.

QUICK HITS…

  • Jay Woodcroft will be one of Todd McLellan’s assistants. He and McLellan joined the Red Wings staff together in 2005/2006, and three years later McLellan brought Woodcroft with him to San Jose. They’ve coached together for ten years, and one of Woodcroft’s main responsibilities has been running the powerplay. Woodcroft has had some excellent players at his disposal in San Jose, but he is still the one who designs their plays, and Patrick Marleau told me last December, “Jay has a great offensive mind, and he knows how to attack different PK units. He makes us look really good.”
  • The Sharks’ PP has been in the top-ten (6th, 7th, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 10th) every year under Woodcroft, except last season when they were 20th. He ran the PP for Canada at the WC and Eberle raved about his schemes.
  • There has been a lot of talk on Oilersnation about the Oilers trying to pry Brent Burns out of San Jose. Burns has a restricted NMC. He’ll submit a list of only three teams the Sharks could trade him to on June 30th. No chance the Oilers were one of those three last June, but a source told me last night that if the Oilers made an offer to the Sharks he’d strongly consider it because he loves playing for McLellan. The Oilers would have to give up a lot to get him. It would take more than the #16 pick and Martin Marincin, which seems to be the package most present as a starting point.
  • Speaking of Marincin, he was scratched for game six of the OKC/Utica series last night. Marincin has NHL skill, but his competitiveness is the issue. My biggest concern with Marincin has been his attitude more than his play. After being drafted he never took the off-season training serious enough. He never gained any significant strength or weight until last summer when he added 15 pounds. He was drafted in 2010, but it wasn’t until 2014 that he put in the work necessary to gain muscle and strength. I’m sorry, but you can’t coach commitment. His has been lacking off and on the ice, and it is up to him to change it.
  • I’m not saying he can’t. We’ve seen many examples of players who finally clue in. Guys with high-end skill will always get second, third and even fifth chances. Dan Cleary is a prime example. He was a first round pick, but he almost partied himself out of the NHL. Cleary admitted he finally matured when he was 28 and the only team to give him a chance was the Detroit Red Wings, who offered him a tryout for training camp, not even a real contract. If Marincin becomes a regular in the NHL he will have to commit physically and mentally, both on and off the ice. He has the skill, but only he knows if he has the desire to be a regular NHLer. It is a difficult league to play in — you can’t get by on skill alone.
  • Derek Roy is not better than RNH or Connor McDavid in a top-six role, and he isn’t better than Anton Lander or Boyd Gordon in a defensive role. If they want a veteran fifth centre, which would be wise, then I’d look at him later in the summer. No way I’d add him before free agency or looking at other trades.

  • Roy cannot be the only player who makes Nail Yakupov productive. Yakupov needs to be productive regardless of who he plays with, otherwise he is not a bonafide top-six forward.
  • If he isn’t already, Tyler Johnson could be the next Marty St. Louis. He continues to write one of the best underdog stories in NHL history. What a terrific player.
  • Don’t expect Nelson to stay on as an assistant in Edmonton. He has been passed over for the head coaching job three times now, and will look for another opportunity in an other organization. I believe he will eventually get an NHL head coaching gig.
  • If the Ducks can have Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm on their blueline, why can’t the Oilers have Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse on the roster next year? If Nurse proves he is good enough to play in Edmonton, then he should stick, regardless of his age.
  • The finalists for our 3rd annual Karaoke contest will be announced later today on my show. The audition videos were outstanding. There will be some great talent on stage this Friday night. The winner takes home $1,000. (Donated by On The Rocks.) You can buy tickets to this fun-filled charity event here. 100% of the proceeds goes to charity.

Recently by Jason Gregor:    

    • Please Gregor, don’t stoke the expectations on Nurse being in the NHL. The fangirls are already hyperventilating enough over that.

      The oilers, their fans and select Edmonton media always talk a big game about patience and proper development and then proceed to lose their heads and rush the latest blue chipper into the line up.

      The prudent thing is to plan for him to develop in the A even if he absolutely kills it in camp. If he immediately dominates in the AHL and earns an early call up ahead of schedule, then that is a pleasant bonus.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        if Nurse kills it at training camp, then you don’t send him to the AHL, that’s ridiculous! and if he immediately dominates the AHL and earns an early call up, then the Oilers would have wasted his time putting him down there.

        if he’s ready to play this season, he plays, simple as that! Ekblad and Jones were both ready at 18 and played reasonably well their first seasons, there’s no reason why Nurse can’t at 19 if he’s ready.

          • HardBoiledOil 1.0

            the obvious difference was a) Leon wasn’t ready, and we all knew it, and b) MacT is a horrible judge of talent!

            Craig should have dealt with trading Leon to another junior team much sooner than he did if going back to his old team was out of the question, but no, he dilly dallied and kept Leon on the NHL roster when the fans could see he needed to go back to junior.

            and comparing Leon’s personal development to Nurse or any other player’s development is ridiculous! they each develop at their own pace!

            • S cottV

              The environment surrounding LD breaking into the NHL last year, was about as bad as you can get for a rookie centreman trying to find his way.

              The stronger the goaltending, the d corps and supporting wingers, the easier the transition.

              LD is a better player than met the eye, as an Oiler this past year.

              If you could have surrounded him with the right complimentary players, he gets through the season gaining valuable experience.

              Assuming that he and Nurse look good in camp, I wouldn’t screw with them, even if you have to play LD partly in the middle and partly on the wing – depending on who is going and injuries.

      • Jason Gregor

        I never said he had to make the team, I said you don’t cut him just because he is 20. If he is one of your best six defenders then he can play.

        Lindholm played at 19. Fowler played at 18 and the Ducks have had success, because those kids were better than keeping less talented D-men on the roster.

        I’d expect Chiarelli to bring in a few solid D-men, and let them compete with Nurse for a roster spot. Don’t gift wrap him a spot like MacT did with Draisaitl, but if Nurse proves he is worthy of a spot you keep him.

        You don’t put him in the minors if he is better than players in Edmonton. If he can help them win more than Nikitin then he should be here. Let him show prove it, rather than automatically say he has to play in AHL.

    • Chongler

      In light of everything that has happened over the past month are so this quote is probably the most encouraging. Our next captain has “it” back.

      “You almost forget how fun and addictive it is to win. I learned a lot”

      ^^^^^ This X 1000% ^^^^^

    • TKB2677

      This whole notion that the Oilers should sign Roy just for Yakupov is ridiculous. You sign a player to try and make your entire team better, not just to benefit one guy. Roy was an upgrade on the Oilers center depth last year but the Oilers center depth absolutely sucked.

      Roy doesn’t help the Oilers with 2 way play, he doesn’t help them with size, he doesn’t help make them tougher or harder to play against. He’s not even good on faceoffs. If right before training camp, the Oilers haven’t been able to add anyone and there isn’t anyone legitimately ready from the organization, then maybe look at him.

    • Smuckers

      Would this get it done?

      1st(2016)+3rd(2015)+Shultz+Marinson+Khaira for
      Burns+Irwin

      Also I guy I hope the oilers sign is Chris Wiedmen out of the senators system. He seems to deserve a shot, could be our #7. Puck moving D that put up huge numbers in ahl, down side is he is small. But with those two coming in(Burns/Irwin) our D would be much bigger anyway.

    • Soderburg would be a great addition for the oil. wing or center. Fehr could be a cheaper option to replace gordon making him expendable and freeing up much needed cap space to fill defense and goal . Comeau is a heavy player who will come cheap. If a #1 goalie can not be added i got all sorts of time to see what scrivens could be like playing behind a decent defence. Sign Ramo and have a 1A1B for the next season.

    • .

      If the Oilers were Robert Ludlum, the last three novels they’ve written would be:

      The McDavid Accession
      The Chiarelli Appointment, and
      The McLellan Acquisition

      in a less than a month they’ve established an interesting precedent: without playing a single game, the Edmonton Oilers have managed to have the best play-off season of any NHL team in 2015.

      I can hardly wait for the next book: The Niemi Exchange.

      Is it my imagination or did McLellan’s Team Canada have no members of the San Jose Sharks on it, aside from Mr. Burns?

    • YFC Prez

      I doubt this will be received well. But in regards to Burns I have my worries.

      First off he was the best player in a tournament that included most of the best in the world. That can only be disputed by maybe Jagr. Burns was incredible and I was in awe at his performance sometimes. He was always good on forward but I have never seen him play defence like that.

      That’s my concern with Burrns. In the NHL his transition to the back end has been a very hard one. I really think that moving Burns to the blue line and the learning curve that created for the player was one of the reasons for the Sharks lacklustre season.

      I hope that if the oilers do pursue Burns to play defence for their team that he comes as the player that I saw at the WC and not the one that was on San Jose last year. I just hope he’s really figured it out is all. I’m sure if it wasn’t for his showing at the WC San jose would have looked very closely at moving burns back to forward and acquiring a dman during the offseason.

      • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

        This. I like this.

        Not sure if the 33rd is enough of a sweetener in that deal, but Franson and Burns would go a long way towards plugging the holes on the blue line. Skidding Schultz and Nikitin frees a lot of cap as well. Then I’d like to see the Wookie put Ferland through the end boards, just so Flames fans will finally shut up about him.

      • YFC Prez

        I rarely offer imput to trade suggestions because usually theyre completely out to lunch.

        This could work though, the price for Burns is close, I don’t know if San Jose would jump, there are however factors that could help this deal in becoming a reality. Remember Burns had a disastrous year in San Jose this season and that only helps the oil, also the Mclellan factor should change the players view of the oilers as Gregor already stated.

        We really need a player like Franson.

        The only tweak I would offer is keeping Schultz over Ference. They both have major issues in their game but Ferrence’s are due to age and that cannot be helped. Schultz still has the potential to be a solid 3rd line pairing d man with major upside offensively.

        Schultz bothers me more than any other D-man in the system but if he figures it out there will be a player there. Ference cant turn back the clock, unfortunately.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      Remember how we started last year with Nuge and Gordon as our only two legit NHL centers?

      If we can re-sign Gordon to a slightly cheaper contract, in a couple years we’ll be looking at McDavid, Nuge, Draisatl, Gordon, Lander and possibly Yakimov. That’s an unreal turnaround.

    • CaptainLander

      Two points in particular I think are worth more discussion:

      1. Roy cannot be the only player who makes Nail Yakupov productive. Yakupov needs to be productive regardless of who he plays with, otherwise he is not a bonafide top-six forward.

      Yak has been badly misused since he entered the NHL, Roy was not necessarily a Yak whisperer, so much as just the fist veteran centre that Yak was not only paired with, but stuck with. Sam Gagner was not a veteran of over 700 nhl games like Roy is. Roy’s game is his game, he’s been through a few different organizations and has played everywhere in the line up. It was simply experience Gagner, nor Arco, nor Draisaitl had. Plus, along with Roy, Yak got two things he also had not seen: top six minutes, and a coach that trusted him. And speaking of Arco, purely at a numbers perspective, Yak was just as successful with Arco as he was with Roy. So really, his success is like using a Mac, the answer is so simple it’s stupid. He was paired with a guy that new what he was doing. He was paired with THE SAME GUY. He was given more ice time, he was put on the PP and it was run much better, he was given a coach that gave him confidence.

      I’ll post my second point in another post. Bottom line, nothing is wrong with Yak, everything was wrong with how he was used by Eakins.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      All World Championship was a burst of inspiration. Mister McLellan is not just a good coach. He’s a Winner. He will bring winning culture to the team. He will make Oil Country a Death Valley for other NHL again. I’m waiting for official news. I’m sure, this man will change future of my favorite team for years and years

      P.S. And i hope Roy and Nelson will be OK. Maybe not with Oilers but somewhere in hockey universe

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      ‘With the first overall pick in the NHL entry draft, the Edmonton Oilers select, from ancient Scotland, Connor MacLeod.’

      THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE.

      • CaptainLander

        Is this how McDavid is so good? He is actually 250 old started playing hockey in 1912. Patiently waiting until the hockey players started making a astronomically amount of money. Created a new identity and decided to enter the NHL draft in 2015.

        It all make sense!

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      Nurse’s size and skating are ready for war, if his hockey sense is anywhere near that level, he’ll earn a spot in camp and probably stay there for the next ten years.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      The second point here is this:

      If the Ducks can have Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm on their blueline, why can’t the Oilers have Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse on the roster next year? If Nurse proves he is good enough to play in Edmonton, then he should stick, regardless of his age.

      I agree, but wouldn’t it be nice if he didn’t need to because the organization went out and plugged their holes?

      And if he does come up, wouldn’t it be nice if he’s paired with a guy who knows what he’s doing and can help him along? If all they did this summer was buy out Nikitin, let Schultz walk and get two actual right side NHL defencemen to play with Klefbom and Nurse, it would still be a hell of a lot better than what the team had going last year.

      I don’t mind the idea of putting Yak in a package for Burns as that solves a lot of problems. I also think it won’t really matter who plays on the right side of McDavid as that player is going to look incredible. But, if they can somehow get Burns here without having to give up a significant piece like Yak, all the better.

      As for Nurse, I cannot wait to watch him on the blue for another decade. That kid is big, mean, has immaculate skating, plays physical, and is only going to get bigger and better.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      As per Staples, Nurse is the only guy from the top 10 of the 2013 draft not an NHL regular at this point.

      With the extra development in junior, Nurse will become the best D man of his draft year. Book it.

      Full disclosure: I’ve got a raging mancrush on Nurse, so maybe take that with a grain of salt.

      Nurse was out there in the final minute of the elimination game against Utica while they were “Nursing” a one goal lead. Just an FYI.

    • positivebrontefan

      Jay, what do you think is the asking price for a guy like Burns from San Jose and is this even a possible scenario? Would the 16 pick Marincin and the 33 pick a viable trade?

      • Jason Gregor

        Sharks would need a proven NHL player in return for a top-pairing defender. They don’t have to trade him. Have no cap issues and he has two years left on deal.

    • hemmertime

      “Roy cannot be the only player who makes Nail Yakupov productive.”

      Absolutely. Roy was probably the only guy in the org who wasn’t happy about winning the McDavid sweepstakes. It’s a tough business, but he became expendable.

    • TKB2677

      No disrespect intended to Derek Roy but I am hoping the Oilers can do a little better than adding a 32 yr old, 5’9 center who isn’t that great on faceoffs and really isn’t suited to play in your lower lines. Even before McDavid, I was hoping the Oilers would try to improve on Roy but have him as a bit of a last resort.

      The whole Yakupov thing bothers me in that a player with his skill set, talent and who was as highly touted as he was, he should be a better player than he is regardless of the coach or who he plays with. Eakins definitely hurt his development but when you are a #1 overall pick, just on ability and talent alone you should be able to rise above some things at least a little. #1 overall players are supposed to be good enough that they make everyone else around them at least a little better and develop themselves to a degree. Yakupov did the exact opposite. He didn’t develop at all and made players around him worse. It’s at least 50% his fault and that is inexcusable. The fact that his play was impacted so much by others tells me he is a complimentary player and for me, you don’t draft a player #1 overall to be complimentary.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      I’ve got visions of Hall and McDavid tear-assing through the neutral zone with Nurse joining the rush. I think Cogs MIGHT be able to chase them down, but I doubt it. Anyone else remember that epic drag race between Hall and Cogs two years ago? He could’ve reached out and grabbed Hall’s jersey, but just didn’t have the extra gear to overtake, and Hall managed a shot. Probably one of my favorite moments of the last two years, in which ‘favorite moments’ were a pretty alien concept.

        • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

          I actually forgot about that. From Google, “It can be inferred that the maximum speed that a NHL player can reach is greater than 45 kph but less than 50 kph.” Hockeydb has Drai at 210 lbs. Any math-types able to calculate the force of 210 lbs hitting you at 45 KPH?

          I missed that skills comp, did Hall blow a tire going around the net like he does every year?

          • pkam

            I didn’t watch the competition myself. I just looked up the result at the end of the day and was shcoked.

            Drisatle finished 80ms ahead of Hall at 14.537s. I think he may be a bit slow to pick up but he has a higher full speed. Like one of those V10 pickup, once it reaches its maximum speed, you just can’t keep up with it.

            Since a lap is about 500 ft long, so he can finish 2000 ft (about 1.2km) in a minutes. It works out to be about 70KPH, not 45. Imagine a truck coming at you in Yellowhead trail.

            • ubermiguel

              At the skills comp I remember thinking Drai is deceptively fast. Granted it’s not in traffic, so it’s straight ahead speed but once he gets going he can keep up. I also remember thinking Hall looks like he’s skating hard, but the results aren’t necessarily there, which reminds me of how he carries the puck into zone sometimes.

          • Never to give up a good challenge,

            If Drai hits Crosby while skating 45km/hr and eats a healthy breakfast putting him at his peak 220 lbs then,

            if E=1/2 m v^2 this equates to about 7800 J of Energy

            then if this impact is exerted over a 50 cm distance at mid-ice then the equivalent force nears 15kN or about 3x the required force to knock Sydney out and potentially break his jaw again.

            Alas, the same impact will probably knock Drai out too, and only at that point will the two centers have equivalent skill.

    • TKB2677

      I would love to see Draisatl being able to move to the wing. Hall and McDavid burning down the ice causing teams fits, driving the net, then Draisatl sliding in with his big body and ability to protect the puck cleaning up the garbage. In a perfect world, that would be my ideal line.

      • S cottV

        At some point, the Oilers are not going to be able to keep all of their first rounder guys.

        To make it all fit – in the end, they need the right mix and right type of players, that fit the vision – which PC advises is a bigger and harder team to play against.

        Trades have to be made, ufa’s have to be attracted and it all has to fit into the cap system.

        Eberle and Yak are two guys that don’t really fit the bigger and harder to play against mode.

        Eberle’s stock is pretty high right now, given his excellent performance at the worlds. Without taking anything at all away from that – remember it was on big ice, where there is a lot more time and space, with less need for physicality.

        If you thought that eventually some young first rounders must go, this may be the best chance to get a strong return for Eberle.

        As for Yak, his stock value isn’t nearly as high – but geez, if there was a team or teams that really believed that he will pan out one day and were prepared to give back something of reasonable value to round out our roster – then trade him.

        Contrary to what a lot of people think, Yak is not a physical hard to play against player. Hard to play against players – are two way guys that produce offence, drive forward zone play, limit turnovers, win battles, play smart, sacrifice where necessary -etc,etc, and have comparatively strong plus minus stats. The real beasts that fit this mode on other teams, would consider Yak to be a picnic.

    • Spoils

      if we could get Burns for 16th and change (Marincin + 33rd for example) I would be thrilled.

      He’s a PERFECT fit for the Oilers, big, young, talented and a winner. AND already performing in the NHL.

      11points at the Worlds!

      That would be a monster pick up

    • Stoic Coach

      “Derek Roy is not better than RNH or Connor McDavid in a top-six role, and he isn’t better than Anton Lander or Boyd Gordon in a defensive role. If they want a veteran fifth centre, which would be wise, then I’d look at him later in the summer. No way I’d add him before free agency or looking at other trades.”

      Are we assuming too much of McDavid to jump right into a top 2 centre position right away? Would it not be in everyone’s best interest to retain/obtain experience and take some pressure off the kid? I have no doubt that by the end of the year, he will be challenging for Calder, but I really worry about saddling him with the 2nd line centre role right off the bat.

    • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

      Nice article I like the style. I wish you would number the statements so it would be easier to respond to them. Just don’t make 30.