Todd McLellan’s coaching staff likely to be assembled “before Friday”

Todd McLellan2

Peter Chiarelli’s brief press availability on Monday touched on a lot of different points, one of which was the still under construction Oilers’ coaching staff. The general manager indicated at least the majority of Todd McLellan’s group should be in place prior to the draft.

“I would hope that we have two additional assistant [coaches] before Friday,” said Chiarelli. “I would think that we would, based on my discussions.”

Beyond McLellan, the only other apparent lock is Jay Woodcroft. Woodcroft talked to the Edmonton Sun’s Terry Jones back before he took the Oilers’ job and made it clear that his San Jose assistant coach would be a part of any staff he assembled in another city:

Jay, if I get the opportunity to move on, will be part of my staff. I believe in him that much. I think it’s really important when you find a guy that you can trust and who can keep you organized and prepared and works his butt off. It’s essential. And that’s the plan for me as I move forward.

Woodcroft worked for the Detroit Red Wings when McLellan was there, and then spent seven seasons with McLellan in California.

There’s been official silence so far regarding the fate of Rocky Thompson, who spent last year as the “eye in the sky” under first Dallas Eakins and then Todd Nelson. Thompson has eight years of experience now; one in Edmonton, four in Oklahoma City and three with the WHL’s Oil Kings. It’s probably worth noting that Thompson played for McLellan in the WHL in 1996-97 when McLellan was running the Swift Current Broncos, so there’s at least some level of history there. Given that history and the fact he wasn’t let go at the same time as the team’s other assistant coaches, it’s a decent guess that he might be the lone holdover under McLellan.

Assuming that Thompson ends up staying that leaves one other spot, and there are some intriguing possibilities.

Late last week 630 CHED’s Bob Stauffer suggested that Jim Johnson, who was a member of McLellan’s staff in San Jose, might potentially find his way behind the bench in Edmonton:

We know Jay Woodcroft is coming; he worked with Todd McLellan in San Jose. Some people think that we’ll end up in a scenario in which Jim Johnson, who was also on that staff – a veteran NHL defenceman, highly regarded for his ability to develop players – that Jim Johnson will join the staff as well and Rocky Thompson would remain. Still as of right now nothing official from the Edmonton Oilers on that front.

There’s at least one other interesting possibility, though, who the Oilers are clearly considering:

MacLean, who until recently was the head coach of the Ottawa Senators, previously had a long run in Detroit as part of Mike Babcock’s staff. He and McLellan spent three years together behind the bench as assistants to Babcock and he’d obviously be qualified for the position.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS