Todd Nelson likely could have stayed with the Edmonton Oilers as part of Todd McLellan’s staff, but he sees himself as a head coach and that’s been enough to prompt him to leave the Oilers and familiarity behind for some uncharted waters in the AHL. I can respect that.
Based on reports over the past several days, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if Nelson lands the job he’s looking for in the not-too-distant future. He’s already interviewed with the Pittsburgh Penguins for a job as their AHL coach with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Nelson will meet with the Detroit Red Wings today to interview for the job as coach of Grand Rapids, a position vacated by Jeff Blashill, who is taking over from Mike Babcock in Detroit. I’ve seen that as the likeliest destination for Nelson since Babcock left the Red Wings. I still feel that way.
With Craig Ramsay and Keith Acton shown the door, Nelson met with McLellan before the Penguins and Red Wings came calling. I can’t say for certain McLellan offered Nelson the chance to stay here, but my sense is he was, at the very least, offered the opportunity to stay within the organization.
The bottom line, though, is that Nelson, already passed over twice here to be the head man in Edmonton, wasn’t going to get the job he covets anytime soon with McLellan in the fold, so he left the comfort zone that comes with familiarity here and set out looking for new opportunities. Good luck to him.
SOILING THE SHEETS
I like Dougie Hamilton a lot and the Oilers could certainly use a bona fide first-pairing defenseman, which he appears to be. That said, I don’t like him enough to tender an offer sheet on him to pry him away from the Boston Bruins when the price is likely going be at least $7.5 million and four draft picks (two first-rounders, a second and a third at that salary).
There’s no question Hamilton, 21, is an intriguing player, especially for a team needing what he brings to the table like the Oilers, but that asking price isn’t a gamble I’m willing to take on a blueliner with just 178 NHL games on his resume. New Oiler GM Peter Chiarelli knows Hamilton better than I do, and he might feel differently. It would certainly be the kind of bold move former GM Craig MacTavish never delivered on.
Jason Gregor and I were discussing the possibility of offer-sheeting Hamilton on his show today. What struck both of is we won’t know what Hamilton’s top end is yet. While those who believe an offer sheet is a good idea suggest his ceiling is high based on his first three seasons, we’re still talking about what he might become, not what he is now.
How much better will Hamilton be than Darnell Nurse or Oscar Klefbom two years from now? Hamilton is certainly better than both of them today, but does he widen the gap without the group he had around him in Boston or might Nurse and/or Klefbom narrow it? Will the difference be worth the over pay in salary and those four picks? Maybe yes. Maybe no.
Like I said, Chiarelli knows Hamilton beyond what the numbers tell us way better than you or I do and he might be more of a gambler than I am, but at a price point that’ll prevent the Bruins from matching, I want a sure thing. I don’t see Hamilton as that.
WHILE I’M AT IT
- Gary Bettman is stubborn if nothing else, but the latest deal that was in place to keep the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale – a $15-million subsidy per season that Glendale council defeated by a 5-2 vote today – was ridiculous. It’s past time to pull the pin on hockey in the desert. Bettman has a history of digging in his heels at times like this, but it’s time to walk away.
- It shouldn’t be long now until McLellan officially names Jay Woodcroft, who was on his staff in San Jose, to Edmonton’s coaching staff. That bit of business will likely be done before the NHL Entry Draft.
- I bumped into former Oiler and organizational farmhand Mike Bishai at an event last weekend. While Bishai, retired since the 2012-13 season, played just 14 NHL games with the Oilers, he’ll be forever remembered for the scrap that saw him standing in the bench of the Atlanta Thrashers throwing punches.
#EPSstrong T-Shirts for Charity
The fine folks at Print Machine designed a commemorative #EPSstrong t-shirt with the goal of raising as much money for the family of Constable Daniel Woodall as possible. If you’re looking to pick one up to support the cause shirts are available here.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.