At some point this week, the Edmonton Oilers are expected to make the hiring of Ken Holland official. It will be interesting to see how long Holland will take to name a head coach. If he doesn’t already have a coach in place I’m sure it won’t take long for a manager with his experience to find the Oilers a new bench boss.
There are a number of coaches worth discussing due to a connection with Holland. The following coaching candidates are not placed in any specific order.
Dave Tippett is an interesting option simply because of the situation he’s currently in. Tippett is on the payroll in Seattle as a senior advisor. I was told by someone with ties to Seattle that Tippett will basically get to choose whatever the position he wants within the NHL’s newest expansion franchise. I know Tippett’s name has been popping up among insiders and Rod Pederson, the man who first broke the Holland news, said Tippett wasn’t likely but he has since changed his tune on that rumour.
Don’t believe the rumours that Dave Tippett will be his coach. **UPDATE – I was told Sunday afternoon there is some merit to this report. Stay tuned. **
Tippett hasn’t coached in the NHL since the 2016-17 season and prior to that he had missed the playoffs for five consecutive years with the Coyotes.
He spent six years as the head coach in Dallas before eight years with the Coyotes. He took both the Stars and Coyotes to the conference final.
I think Bylsma may be my favourite candidate on this list. He is currently an assistant with the Red Wings so it’s not crazy to think he’d follow Holland to Edmonton for a head coaching job.
Bylsma has experience coaching super star’s spending years with Crosby and Malkin in Pittsburgh. He also has experience coming into a situation similar to Edmonton after a couple of seasons coaching a rebuilding Sabres squad.
Bylsma’s Penguins beat Holland’s Wings in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final.
Could Todd Nelson make a return to the Oilers? It’s an idea that doesn’t seem that crazy. Nelson spent 51 games behind the Oilers bench in 2014-15 before giving way to Todd McLellan at the end of the season.
After his time in Edmonton Nelson resurfaced with the Red Wings AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids. He’s coached the Griffins to three 90-point seasons and one Calder Cup championship in 2015-16.
How would this go over? I don’t think it’s likely, but considering they’ve worked together with Team Canada in the past it may not be that big of a stretch.
The one thing Hitchcock has going for him above all other candidates is that he’s already on the payroll. If Darryl Katz is going to pay Holland 25 million dollars over the next five years, does he really want to do something similar with a coach?
Connor McDavid’s junior coach has been on the radar for quite some time. Knoblauch has spent the past two seasons as an assistant in Philadelphia. Team insider Bob Stauffer has discussed Knoblauch’s potential multiple times.
I think the former Golden Bear may be better to have on board as an assistant coach, possibly being groomed to take over the top spot in three to five years.
This seems like quite a stretch but I don’t think we can say there is no chance it happens. It sure seems like there is some tension between Babcock and Kyle Dubas and after three consecutive first round exits, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Leafs move on.
Dubas is a huge supporter of Sheldon Keefe and by all accounts, he’s ready to be a head coach.
If I find out tomorrow that the Leafs are hiring Keefe and Babcock is coming to Edmonton I wouldn’t be stunned.
If the Oilers were looking to go on the cheap Gulutzan would make sense. He’s been around the team for a season and apparently he is well-liked by the key players on the team.
It would be disrespectful to not have Woodcroft on this list. I’d describe him a long shot candidate at best because Holland has never worked with him and he has only been a head coach for one season, but it was a hell of a season. Hopefully, the Oilers can keep Woodcroft developing their young talent down in Bakersfield.
CONNECTING THE DOTS
During the search for a general manager, some very positive things were said about Sean Burke. Burke was the goaltending coach in Arizona under Tippett so they do have a working relationship.
I wonder if Tippett comes in and the Oilers manage to bring Burke on board in pro scouting and to help with the goaltending. Something to think about.