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.

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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.

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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:    


    • Devolution

      Roughly six weeks ago I wrote on this site that I see no reason to believe the Oiler’s will be any better next year.

      What a difference a month makes!

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      Sweet baby Jesus, this is all really happening, isn’t it? At the draft, I hope we complete the image of a professional team and only have Chiarelli and McLellan on stage.

        • Smuckers

          Let’s focus on the bigger picture here. McDavid putting on an Oiler’s jersey is what I’ll be tuning in to watch. Katz could bring his whole family up on stage if he wants.

        • Chongler

          No way, I want his kid being every much a part of this team as possible. For all we know Katz Jr. was the one who went into his dads office and demanded that he stop hiring his buddies to make all these key decisions! His son on stage is synonymous with the Oilers picking some great players.
          Stop this nonsense.

        • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

          Yeah, I’d be okay with Nicholson and Katz as well. I was kind of trying to imply I don’t want Katz’ kid on stage again without coming out and saying it. I don’t think it’s right how people dump on the kid, but this is the Connor McDavid draft, and we finally look like a professional organization. Don’t bring Hall or Nuge or Draisatl, leave Katz jr at the table. This day is about McDavid, no one else.

          EDIT: for the the Oilers, that is.

          • Canadian Hockey Fan

            I wouldn’t worry about Katz Jr. taking any of the spotlight from McDavid.
            If I owned the team and my son wanted to be on stage, it would happen.
            It is a perk associated with being a billionaire.

    • pkam

      Agree wholeheartedly with your questioning why the Oilers can’t run Klefbom and Nurse on D this coming season.

      Both of these players appear to have superior skill sets and are motivated to succeed. Just because they are young does not mean they cannot succeed.

      If they both earn positions at TC, then start them.

    • The GREAT Walter White

      I hope the Oilers can somehow pry Burns out of SJ. He would be a much needed addition on the backend and I would take him over Byfuglien any day of the week.

      Real question to you Jason, is honestly what would it take from the Oilers to pry him out of SJ?

      16th overall, and probably 2 more pieces. Which would they be?

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        i have never been much of a fan of Marincin and could never figure out why everyone else is? yes, we can all see he’s got God given talent, but he’s so far away from being a top d-man for the Oilers that it’s no wonder he’s constantly mentioned as trade bait.

        we just don’t have forever to wait for this guy, and as far as i am concerned, only Klefbom and perhaps Nurse if he’s ready are the only 2 inexperienced d-men i am willing to put in the lineup right now.

        • Why does he need to be a “top d-man” to be worthwhile?

          This is what drives me crazy about the bulk of this fanbase. Why do people want to get rid of everyone who isn’t either an all star or ignoring the puck while running around hitting people?

          • HardBoiledOil 1.0

            ^because we don’t have a top d-man, and Marincin plays a soft game defensively and is also soft physically. if he can’t score points, what good is he? never understood the bulk of this fanbase crying like crazy that we have to “rebuild ” the ‘D’ here so we can win now, but they want to go into this season with inexperienced Klefbom, Marincin and possibly Nurse.

            • So we throw away everyone who is not a “top d-man”? Teams need to ice six defensemen every game.

              If you want to say you’d like to trade him for someone more experienced I have time for your argument. If argument is “he’s not a top d-man so we need to get rid of him” you are wrong. I don’t know of any teams with 6 all star defenders currently.

            • HardBoiledOil 1.0

              Nurse and Klefbom are the kids likely to play here next year surrounded by hopefully 4 *good*, experienced NHL caliber d-men. so to me and other fans, Marincin is the odd man out, as we probably can’t go into this coming season with 3 inexperienced d-men and hope to win now, which is what the fanbase is saying they want. hope that clears things up?

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      Can’t wait for Ferland to take a hooking penalty on McDavid as he tries to keep up with him, only to have Ebs walk in from the half wall and roof it on Hiller ten seconds into the powerplay.

      Off a filthy no-look dish from the Magic Man, of course.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      The accelerator sure has been punched. This new regime, along with Connor McDavid will quickly supress the painful memories of the last 9 years.

      The Oiler pride has been restored. I’m expecting Peter and Todd to add a couple key contributors to the roster (a Talbot and Seabrook or OEL types) in the next couple months. Start out their time here with a bang.

    • Brent Burns is definitely a player I would want to have. He’s one of the hardest working guys in the league. His tenacity is a trait that could very spread throughout the locker room. He’s tough. He’s ugly and wears a small animal on his face to ward off the women, to focus on his game. (my theory)

      Oh please let this rumor be true.

    • The GREAT Walter White

      There are only so many head coaching jobs in the NHL.Obviously.30 teams.30 Jobs.

      Todd nelson has done an excellent job. We all know it. Todd Mclelland knows it. Winning takes more than just a head coach.

      Example. Sather/Muckler/Green.

      Just saying that winning trumps a lot of other things in sports. Todd Nelson is not stupid.If Todd McLelland asked me to stay on I’d seriously look at the offer as one that may be better for me long term than taking another job elsewhere.

      Hall and Eberle were top drawer during the WHC. They had Crosby drooling.

      I see where Malkin woke up. Albeit against lesser lights.If I am Pitt he is out the door this summer.

      been an Oilers fan 37 odd years. Can’t recall being this hopeful and confident in a very long time. The talent is there. The coach will there after today. I look forward to less losing and more winning.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      “for the Oilers and their fans, the off season of 2015 just continues to get better”

      you ain’t kidding! Hall and Ebs having a great tournament, Klefbom playing well for Sweden and durable Matt Hendricks playing well and contributing on the score sheet for the bronze medal winning Team USA, now McLellan apparently ready to sign a 5 year deal….indeed the off season is the best i have seen in many years for all of us long suffering fans and for a franchise that the ‘old boys club’ has dragged through the mud for about 8 years or so now.

      • The GREAT Walter White

        Allow me to translate: Hall, Ebs, Klofbomb, Hendrix all played against 90% non-NHL competition at the worlds.

        McLellan was fired a month ago for being an incompetent coach…see also Chiarelli (traded away his best players for pennies on the dollar and left the team in Cap hell….).

        McLindros couldn’t get his team into the Memorial cup….against second and third round picks from the Flames and Canucks.

        Oilers out of the playoffs by December….again.

        WW

        • pkam

          Allow me to correct your mistakes.

          Hall and Eberle are the 2nd and 3rd best scorers in the tournament, ahead of Crosby, Giroux, Overchkin, Malkin who are all top NHL players and played against the same opponents as Hall and Eberle did in the tournament.

          Mclellan was not fired. He and SJ agreed to part.

          The best draft prospect has nothing to do with helping the team to the Memorial cup. Many recent 1st overall failed to lead his team to the Memorial cup, including Ekblad, Yakupov, RNH, Taveres, Stamkos, and Kane.

          And just in case you don’t know, Hall is the only player who was named the MVP of the Memorial tournament twice.

    • 916oiler

      “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.”

      Truth

      • Chongler

        Yakupov produced at the same rate per 60 playing with Arcobello and Roy. The problem was how he was being used and constantly being bumped around the lineup.

      • 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.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Look at that hairline Todd is rockin in that photo. No receeding at all there happ’nin. Only thing I would do different would be to go with a #2 on the sides and back of the head (the WWII special) for a more aerodynamic look.

      Must be a tough day for the Gregor types on this day. Sympathies Jason.

    • 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.

    • TKB2677

      As much as missing the playoffs sucked for the Oilers and for Hall and Eberle, the alternative could not have gone any better. Hall and Eberle go to the Worlds, both have fantastic tournaments. Both are 2 of Canada’s top players, both were near the top in tournament scoring. Hall was named a tournament allstar. They both got to play with Crosby. They won in dominate fashion. As if that isn’t enough, they got to meet, talk to, deal with, practice and play for their now head coach for 3 weeks.

    • Smuckers

      Finally we have some professionalism in this organization. Why it took so long, who knows but the timing is perfect!

      Meanwhile, somewhere out there, MacT is waxing Dallas Eakins bikini zone…

        • Smuckers

          Winning only matters when you go all the way and win a Stanley Cup. Making The playoffs for 9 yrs does not equal 1 cup. Ill take Mcdavid over pretending to win because nobody remembers who came in 2nd place. We got Mcdavid…your team didn’t so…..Be afraid-Be very afraid!

            • hagar

              I guess we will see how the rest of the team makes out.

              Not sure if you remember, but the oilers were one of the worst teams in the league this year. They are covered in holes that need to be cleaned out and filled.

              My point was that if your only goal is to win a cup, the biggest chance the oilers have, is to move assets.

              I care about a lot more than just winning a cup. Having a solid team to cheer for year after year is most important to me.

        • Smuckers

          So you don’t want McDavid? Well I can’t debate that the past 9 years has been brutal but here we are. Can’t change the past. Be thankful we have a qualified GM and coach for the first time in a long time.

    • 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.

      • Jason Gregor

        I see him more as a #7 right now and I’d rather he played every game in the AHL than sit most nights in an NHL pressbox.

        I agree he is close, and won’t be surprised to see him play some games next year when injuries arise.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        True that. That kid is a willing wielder of composite/body contact on any incoming winger. Good size and decent foot speed combined with a mean streak. If he doesn’t find work here in Edmonton, I;m sure there are a few other teams who recognize this in Brandon as well. Maybe he even moves up a few rungs on the depth chart under this new regime here now. A potentially affordable decent second pairing guy ( a 4 or 5) as early as next season in my books. The Oilers will be needing bargains in the middle part of the roster and he could be one of those whose contributions exceed his contract. A good plug and play player who could be ready now. He could easily surpass the usefulness of a Jeff Petry or Marty Marincin.

        Good point John.

    • RCN

      Worth noting… McLellan’s preference was to keep Burns at F in SJ last yr (he’s a good D, but a better F), but Wilson insisted on him being a D. Obv, if Oil were to acquire him, it’d be as a D unless they could add other D. He’d look great on RW with McDavid & Hall.

    • 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.

    • 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

    • 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.

    • rayrayj

      Wow,wow wow,first Bob Nicholson as CEO,then the hiring of Peter Chair and the lucky socks that got us number 1 draft pick and now Todd Mclellan as a coach,man I’m loving being a oilers fan because its been yrs since we had something to cheer about,thank you Darrel Katz for hiring Bob nick as CEO because this hiring of Todd mclellan has Bob Nicholson wrote all over it,I believe there’s gonna be lots more to come,now we might see niemi if mclellan thinks he’s worth it or not?We have the best CEO,GM and now coach in the NHL!!Mclellan is the next Babcock in the making, I still can’t believe what has happened in 2 months..Welcome to Edmonton Todd Mclellan..

    • 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!