The Edmonton Oilers off-season has been quite eventful, and we will see more things shake down very soon.
Earlier this week Ryan Rishaug said the Oilers might have a coaching announcement this week, and yesterday Bob McKenzie said Dave Tippett is the only candidate, and that he and Ken Holland were discussing contracts.
Two sources told me today that barring a major change, the deal is all but done. Tippett will be the next head coach of the Edmonton Oilers.
Tippett has 14 years of NHL head coaching experience. He didn’t coach the past two seasons, so you can argue he will be re-energized and excited. He also has a reputation of being a player’s coach.
Shane Doan shared a story about Tippett when he was the Coyotes head coach. They played Dallas, the team Tippett coached for the previous six seasons.
“I remember after the game, I was walking out of the rink and I saw about 13 Dallas players going to his office to speak to him. I’d never seen anything like that before. It showed how much the guys liked and respected him,” he said.
In today’s game I believe coaching is so much about connecting with your players. If they feel you care about them, they will do their best to play the system correctly. They are in a better frame of mind, which often allows players to play better.
Of course you need skill to win. It is great to respect the coach and want to play for him, but if the team doesn’t have enough high-end skill you won’t win. Arizona was a perfect example of that. As Dustin Nielson outlined, during Tippett’s eight seasons in Arizona his team’s leading scorer was a D-man four times. It is a bit foolish to suggest Tippett stifles offence, because he never really had an elite scorer.
Doan led the team in scoring with 55 and 60 points in 2010 and 2011, Ray Whitney had 77 in 2012, Keith Yandle had 30 (48 games) in 2013 and 53 points in 2014, Oliver Ekman-Larsson had 53 in 2015 and 55 in 2016, while Radim Vrbata had 55 in 2017.
Tippett squeezed every drop of offence out of those teams, and there wasn’t much to start with. He won’t have that issue in Edmonton.
Connor McDavid has 324 points over the past three NHL seasons, the most in the NHL, while Leon Draisaitl has the seventh most points with 252. (Yes, Draisaitl has the seventh most points in the NHL the past three years and some people claimed his contract was bad. Hilarious.)
Tippett won’t have to worry about offensive challenges. Instead he can focus on improving the Oilers commitment to defence and on the penalty kill.
Will Tippett retain any of Glen Gulutzan, Trent Yawney or Manny Vivieros? I’ve been told Dustin Schwartz is staying on as goalie coach.
I still believe it would be beneficial for Tippett to keep at least one of those three assistants, so the players don’t need to get used to an entirely new staff again. Ultimately it will be up to Tippett and who he hires, but considering his reputation for being such a good player’s coach, I think he will see the value in having some continuity on the coaching staff.
The three assistants have permission to speak with other teams, but I’ve been told they will wait to speak with Tippett before having any serious conversations about other opportunities. There have been casual conversations about other openings, but nothing concrete.
The Los Angeles Kings and Toronto Maple Leafs are looking for a coach to run their defence, and Trent Yawney has worked with Todd McLellan twice before, so that is an easy connection.
If Vivieros isn’t retained I could see him looking to be a head coach in the AHL. There are currently two spots opening, and might be three if Dallas Eakins gets the Anaheim Ducks job. He had lots of success as a head coach in Europe and in the WHL. He is an excellent communicator and tactician, which is what teams need for their AHL teams.
I spoke with Jay Woodcroft yesterday. He wouldn’t commit on air if he was returning to Bakersfield, and I get why, if he hasn’t discussed it with Ken Holland, who was meeting with Tippett today in Vancouver. But Woodcroft did say he loved being a head coach and having the extra responsibility. The biggest factor in his decision will be family. His wife and children stayed in Edmonton this year, and that was difficult for all of them. He did tell me last October the plan was for his family to remain here this year, but come to Bakersfield next year. However, things can change.
When your kids are entering their teenage years you have to be very aware of them and their situation. Are they open to moving? How will they react? Sometimes we forget the family side of hockey decisions, and based on previous discussions with him over the years, I know family is very important to him. Also, as of today the Kings have not asked the Oilers for permission to speak with Woodcroft.
His decision won’t simply be about hockey. If it was, I’d bet he’d be the head coach in Bakersfield, because that is the best path if he wants to be an NHL head coach someday. I still believe he goes there, but his decision isn’t just about him. It is also about his wife and children.
The Edmonton Oilers or the Calgary Flames? It sounds if it’s down to a Battle of Alberta for the services of undrafted Swedish free agent forward Joakim Nygård. A decision is expected soon.
— Uffe Bodin (@UffeBodin) May 22, 2019
Nygard is a 26 year old forward. He shoots left and scored 21 goals in 52 games last year. He has good speed and considering the Oilers lack of depth on left wing, and a not great UFA crop, this might be a good value signing. I’d be interested in the term more than the salary. Tobias Rieder didn’t pan out, but he was only signed for one year. Shorter term is always better for free agents, except for the odd elite player.
Coveted swedish free agent Joakim Nygård has decided to sign for Edmonton Oilershttps://t.co/I5VxEbDwLe
— Johan Ekberg (@VFekberg) May 23, 2019
Looks like the Oilers have signed Nygard.
Worth the Wait?
Edmonton product Jay Bouwmeester made his NHL debut with the Florida Panthers when he was 19 years young in October, 2002. He played 764 NHL games before playing his first playoff game in the spring of 2013 with the Calgary Flames. His Flames lost in six games. He played another 226 regular season games before he finally won a playoff series with the Blues in 2016. He’d played 990 regular season games at that point, and had lost in the first round for three years before finally experiencing the second round of the playoffs.
Now, three years later, after 1,184 regular season games and 68 playoff games, he will play his first game in the Stanley Cup Final. Good luck to him and his family.
Also, St.Albert’s Colton Parayko and Edmonton’s Jake Debrusk will play their first Final games as well. Parayko’s only been in the league four years and he’s already played 50 NHL playoff games. He’s made the Conference Final twice. This is Debrusk’s second season and in game one on Monday he’ll play his 30th playoff game.
While Bouwmeester has waited much longer, I’m sure all three are equally excited. Congrats to all three and their families. The next few weeks will be the biggest emotional rollercoaster ride of their hockey lives. Buckle up and enjoy. It is probably worse for the families as they can do nothing but cheer and hope.
ULTIMATE SPORTS FAN
My 9th annual Ultimate Sports Fan package in support of charity is here again. On June 22nd and 23rd, I am riding in the 190KM MS Bike from Leduc to Camrose, and I’ve come up with a pretty good package for the diehard sports fan.
Here’s how it works: You make a $125 donation and you get one entry. If you make a $250 donation you get two entries, and so on.
We only take 100 entries and we will raise $12,500 for MS. The draw will be the week of June 14th.
This year’s winner will win the following prizes and more.: The final package is valued at over $6,000.00
- The “Oilers experience” at the Oilers home opener in October, which includes tickets, parking, dinner and a behind the scenes tour.
- A pair of Edmonton Eskimos season tickets in the lower bowl.
- Twenty tickets, and a hot dog and beverage (non-alcoholic), to an Oil Kings home game. Also, you will get an Oil King player of your choice to come to your backyard rink or minor hockey practice for an hour. (Between November 1st and December 15th.)
- Four seats in the Edmonton Stingers VIP Hospitality Zone, which includes buffet meal, for one of the Stingers home games of your choice. Also a signed Edmonton Stingers jersey. And your group will receive a pre-game Fan Experience.
- A signed Barclay Donaldson jersey. He was the captain for the Broom County Blades in the greatest hockey movie, Slap Shot. Sweet jersey.
- $500 GC at Atlas Steak and Fish (either location).
- We will add a few more items as well.
This sells out fast so get your entry today. You can make your donation here. (click Donate Now to the right of my picture).
Thank you for supporting MS and good luck.