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Photo Credit: Andy Marlin

The Way I See It

With five days still to go until the Edmonton Oilers win the NHL draft lottery Saturday and send the rest of the league into spasms of indignation, the hot topic around here continues to be the status of the Oilers’ coaching staff. Who leaves? Who stays? Who comes in? The questions about who will form Todd McLellan’s staff remain the same, even if there aren’t a lot of answers – yet.

There’s been plenty of speculation but not a lot of solid information as to how it’s going to play out. Since I wrote about the possibility of former Calgary Flames coach Glen Gulutzan joining McLellan, in large part because the two of them have distinct ties to each other, Trent Yawney’s name has come up for the same reasons. Yawney, cut loose by the Anaheim Ducks, has even stronger connections to McLellan. More important, Yawney’s resume fits what the Oilers need.

From Bob Stauffer, the connected host of Oilers Now:  “Trent Yawney has an excellent track record of developing young defenceman. My guess is that he will be a coach that multiple organizations look at. Yawney is a former teammate of Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan in Saskatoon, spent 3 years as AC with McLellan in SJ. Yawney has been an NHL and AHL HC and oversaw a Ducks PK unit that has been top 5 last 3 seasons. He checks off a lot off boxes here.” Dustin Nielson added his take on the situation, including Yawney, this morning here.

So, Yawney and McLellan are connected as former teammates and behind the bench in San Jose. On top of that, Yawney has a track record of developing D-men and he was in charge of Anaheim’s PK. Having enough talent to work with, of course, has every bit as much to do with success as coaching, but there’s no getting around the results Yawney has enjoyed. I can’t imagine anybody, even the most jaded Oilers’ fan, would have an issue with Yawney as a hire. One thing’s certain, he’ll be in demand.

My question as of today and until more candidates come open, is this: is there room for Gulutzan and Yawney on McLellan’s staff? Do they come in to replace Jim Johnson, the likeliest candidate to get sacked, and Jay Woodcroft? Woodcroft’s status is less certain. Or, does Johnson walk the plank while Ian Herbers returns to the University of Alberta as head coach while Woodcroft gets bumped down to a third assistant’s role?

Assuming McLellan wants Gulutzan and Yawney – that is an assumption on my part as opposed to solid information from any source – that last scenario makes the most sense to me. McLellan wanting them isn’t the only factor, of course. There will be other opportunities for Gulutzan and Yawney. While they’d be a fit for the Oilers, are the Oilers a fit for them? Stay tuned.

STOP RIGHT THERE

I’m not going to blow smoke up your bums and pretend I know anything about Finnish goaltender Mikko Koskinen aside from what his numbers in the KHL tell me. If the Oilers feel the need, as they’ve stated they do, to improve their backup goaltending, I suppose it makes sense to look at all the possibilities.

I’m just not putting much weight in the numbers Koskinen has posted. The KHL is, after all, a big step down from the NHL. One need only remember failed Oilers’ experiment Anton Belov being named the best blueliner in the KHL before he came over, or Anton Lander being named the best player in this year’s KHL playoffs with AK Bars Kazan to know that much.

I’m also wondering if the same people within hockey ops who thought bringing in Al Montoya was a good idea are now saying looking at Koskinen makes sense, even though Montoya has a year left on this contract? It’s not Montoya’s money that troubles me if the Oilers decide to bring in a new stopper, it’s the ability to assess talent by those making the decisions that has me wondering.

WHILE I’M AT IT

  • I’m feeling truly grateful for the buy-in we’ve had in Edmonton for the 2018 edition of Hockey Helps the Homeless with the event fast approaching May 11 at the Terwillegar Rec Centre. I’m talking about the response from fans who have stepped up to donate, businesses, including Oilersnation, that have come aboard as sponsors or to help with fund-raising, and all the members of the Oilers’ alumni who have agreed to play in the games.

    We’re going to have more teams and more pros and we’re going to raise more money than we have in the four previous editions of HHTH in support of the Mustard Seed and Jasper Place Wellness Centre. Former Oiler coach Ron Low and his wife Linda have had a big hand in getting the alumni out, so has former equipment man Barrie Stafford. At a time when demand by so many worthy groups is at a high, people right across the board have responded to us.

    Then again, I shouldn’t be surprised — people in this town have a habit of coming through when it matters. As an aside, former NHL referee Kerry Fraser agreed today to come on board. Fraser will emcee the hockey hot stove portion of our reception May 10 and then he’ll put on the stripes as one of our officials for games the next day.

RECENTLY BY ROBIN BROWNLEE  

  • elliotsmom

    Personally, I am not a fan of hiring Gully to be a part of the Oilers coaching bench in any capacity. This has nothing to do with him being a former Flames coach, but only to do with their PP and PK record. It was one of their areas of weakness as it was ours. I can’t see what he would offer the Oilers that would be beneficial. I do agree with Trent Yawney as well as Rocky Thompson, as Gregor suggested earlier. Both of those hires would benefit our special teams greatly. As far as this goalie rumour, OMG—What is Chia thinking????? Signing him could not have been part of this great plan he has can it? Why not wait and see who becomes available in free agency. Really, does it even matter who the back up is if MacLellan is going to have him nailed to the bench 90% of the time? That is something that needs to change. When the GM and HC talks about players confidence being low,, a player needs to be trusted to play to have any confidence. Opportunities need to be given. I hope that is a part of this plan moving forward.

      • VK63

        The thing about Chia’s plans is that they are hamstrung by the cap hell purgatory he has put the team in. Ergo, execution of said plans has self inflicted constraints…. #becauseoilers. (FWIW this has been an ongoing thing since the Horc era. Gross overpays for “potential” that the organization failed to realize because their talent development is a study in abject brutality.
        The ONLY thing that has this franchise peering into some measure of relevance is McDavid. A lottery win ie:
        Pure
        Random
        Luck

    • When Gulutzen was a part of the Canucks organization as an assistant coach running special teams, they had one of the best PKs in the league for several years running.

      Their PP was mediocre, though.

  • camdog

    Talbot is UFA in 2019. If Talbot has a Vezina quality year, Oilers might not have cap to sign him, if he has another year like this year the Oilers will want too move on. Oilers desperately need options for 2019. If Koskinen works then they’ll have at least one goalie under contract. If it doesn’t work the Oilers will be looking at either signing a UFA goalie with leverage or dealing for a goalie from a GM with leverage. LB and Nick Ellis look to be out. PC is once again gambling because the Oilers have no organizational depth.

  • 99bestever

    Why is no one in the media, radio, paper or the web talking about trading for Erick Karlsson. Why is this? Has he said he won’t come to Edmonton? He is 27! He has won a Norris already! Eugene Melnyk is getting rid of big contracts! This is an opportunity for the Oilers to pounce on getting him! You want the cup? It won’t happen without a high scoring Norris level right defenceman. Look at Nashville they have a great defence but yet went out to get a Norris quality defenceman – Subban! Negotiate offer up Draisaitl to get there attention and room on the budget to sign Karlsson long term to a Subban type contract. MacDavid and Draisaitl won’t win the cup. McDavid and Erik Karlsson will along with better goaltending. This one move will make the Oilers a serious cup contender. Don’t be scared if you have to give up #1 2018 or 19 do it. If they need a defenceman – Only Nurse and Larrson should be safe. My point is don’t give away the team but do all you have to do to bring Karlsson to Edmonton!

  • Serious Gord

    Many people think that money is the most corrupting of temptations.

    It isn’t even close.

    Nepotism/Favouritism is easily THE most corrupting in Business/Politics.

    Here’s a relatable example: If i ask a president of a company who is also a very good friend of mine to try and get my kid a job, he will gladly do it.

    Whereas if a complete stranger was to offer him $100,000 to do the same thing the stranger would be kicked out of the office forthwith.

    And here we go again with friends hiring friends. NO industry-wide search for the best and most talented; No extensive interview or vetting process. Pathetic. The failure will continue…

    • Hemmercules

      I understand the skepticism but when you hire somebody it’s only logical to look at options that you know. They should be interviewing a bunch of people though and not just immediately going with one guy just because they know them.

      Assistant coaches aren’t going to make or break this team anyway, the team just isn’t very good when you get past McD. Let this management and coaching staff toil in the basement for another year and they will clean house again in the summer of 2019. Maybe Bob will get shown the door too? If everything goes right they will be in the hunt for a wild card towards the end of the season but I have a feeling we will see a new GM selling off whatever he can at the trade deadline in hopes for a re-tooling type summer.

      • Serious Gord

        For the odd position iow on a limited basis it is a relatively benign practice. But on the scale it is being done by the oil it is a recipe doomed to failure and mediocrity.

  • What-a-Mike

    IMO, I would be firing Johnson and having Woodcroft replace Fleming in Bakersfield. He is a players coach who can develop and he would follow McLellans system which would start having prospects play better than what Fleming had ready at recall time. Then, get their asses out of the chair and get Todd two guys of ….. say Yawney, MacLean, Gulutzan, and/or Rocky Thompson or Nelson. I would then look at Allaire to come in from the NYR to be goalie coach. His work with Lunquist, Talbot (before Oilers) etc., has been good to great from what I have heard.

  • RJ

    I don’t forget what was said when McLellan was hired: elite offensive coach, therefore better than Nelson. And it wasn’t just TM: it was his coaching staff coming over from San Jose.

    In three years, they’ve had a decent PP one year. So how does Woodcroft stay other than his friendship with TM? It isn’t based on performance.

  • Ivan Drago

    So PC trades for Montoya for a conditional draft pick, TM plays him for barely enough games to qualify for the condition and the oilers up the round of pick to the other team, they come up with a ‘plan’ and then rumours start of them signing some unproven KHL guy who hasn’t been able to make NHL to what is being reported at possibly a 2.5 million per yr deal? If this I don’t know if I’ll be handle PC for one more second. Horrible asset management.

    • Big Nuggets

      He does indeed seem quite inept. But Montoya in Bakersfield is actually a good thing. Lots of young prospects on the farm next season and they could use a veteran goalie to help them out.

    • fasteddy

      It went from a 5th to a 4th round draft pick….if you want to humor yourself scroll through the last 15 drafts and see how many top 3 line/4D players are picked in those two rounds….I feel the pain too, but I think there are far more relevant things we could complain about than losing a fourth rounder instead of a fifth.

  • Yawney seems like a great fit since we have many promising Defencemen with a high ceiling. I’d welcome Gully on board as well if he is willing to come. He has a pretty stellar coaching record.

  • RexHolez

    Who cares who the assistant coaches are, if Mclellan is back next year let him have whoever he wants and feels he can work good with. It’s amusing to think anyone can even have an opinion on the assistant coaches.

    As for Koskinen, I also don’t care. They can sign Rosie O’Donnel for all I care. Just win some hockey games next year or clean out the entire organization from top to bottom

    • Fire Woodcroft!

      The assistant coaches are key to things like Powerplay, Penalty Kill and player development. These position should be given to folks that are capable in those areas- not just handed out like candy to friends of the head coach.

      If you don’t care who the assistant coaches are then you really should pay more attention.

  • MrBung

    All this talk about assistant coaches and who they will be is the equivalent of shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. Look at this roster and the cap issues. Fixing this mess will take new, good management, huge roster fixes and a number of season’s….and a miracle.