Regardless of what happens in the next little while here regarding the assistant coaches for Edmonton, I’m ready to give EVERYONE including Todd McLellan & GM Peter Chiarelli a clean slate starting now. I’m erasing everything from my memory good & bad. All the previous trades mean nothing. All the poor coaching last year means nothing. I don’t care what happened previously everyone is being judged all over again as of now. Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda – IS FOR KIDS (or was that Trix?). There are so many other variables that refute that argument it is not worth it. Time to move on. I used to be a Pro-McLellan guy but that changed this year. I was not happy with how his managed this roster and his lineups at all but he gets one last chance from me to turn it around. I am still a Pro-Chiarelli guy but I’m starting over with him too. He’s had some good and bad moves but I’m judging him fresh from here on out. You can’t change the past all you can do is try to keep moving forward. Clean slate for everyone where they will be judged on what they do NOW as opposed to in the past. It’s almost a new NHL season so nothing else matters.
What does matter is moving forward this team has a Championship core led by the best young player in the league in Connor McDavid. It doesn’t matter to me HOW we got here but we did. It also has excellent core pieces around him in Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson and Cam Talbot. Forget about your opinions on previous transactions, that is more than enough to start with and build upon. You can argue the opposite if you like but you would be wrong (IMO of course :). The organization has promising young players like Kailer Yamamoto & Jesse Puljujarvi knocking on the Top 6 door and a handful CHL standouts from this past year in F Tyler Benson, F Kirill Maksimov, F Ostap Safin, D Dmitri Samorukov & G Stuart Skinner progressing nicely. Bakersfield now has some legit prospects developing their game like Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, Ryan Mantha, Cooper Marody, Cameron Hebig, Benson and Nick Ellis who all have a chance of making it to the NHL within the next couple years. To me that’s an excellent foundation to build upon the key now will be filling in the gaps and complimenting the rosters at both the NHL and AHL levels. We could argue till we’re all blue in the face who we need to fill out the roster or who’s fault it was for last season but that will get us nowhere. I don’t care how it gets done but it needs to get done NOW. No more excuses, Edmonton fans want and deserve a winner.
What we do know for sure is the Oilers now have the #10 pick in the draft. That should be a highly coveted pick if Peter Chiarelli were looking to move it for a more NHL ready player but he needs to make sure he makes the right deal this time as he’s out of mulligans. The draft is EXTREMELY deep so if he could acquire a Top 6 forward or a Top 4 RHD and an additional Top 50 pick that would be ideal. If not, he should have plenty of quality players to choose from at #10 with the likes of D Ty Smith at or near the top of the list. Whichever route he takes, he better get it right or his job will be on the line.
As for McLellan, he needs to swallow his pride and re-evaluate everything he has done as a coach up to this point. Last season was nothing short of a disaster. He too often was a one-trick pony in terms of adjustments constantly throwing Draisaitl with McDavid whenever his team struggled. He gave unlimited rope to guys like Lucic who constantly turned over the puck but was quick to pull the plug on guys like Slepyshev and Puljujarvi whenever they made a mistake. That cannot happen if this team is going to continue to get better. This team and organization is going to have to lean heavily on guys on their ELC’s or cheap contracts to help compliment the roster. Chicago had to do it during the Championship years and Pittsburgh has done it with guys like Sheary, Guentzel and Rust contributing consistently. The coach needs to understand there will be growing pains along the way but he cannot kill a young player’s confidence or punish him for being inexperienced. It’s the coach’s job to manage his roster effectively and get the most out of everyone not one or two while the others sit and watch. McLellan’s stubbornness and unwillingness to adapt were his two biggest pitfalls last year. Hopefully, after that long look in the mirror he talked about he’s recognized those as weaknesses and intends on turning those into strengths.
So with all that being said, I am done criticizing the Coaching staff and management in general. No more cries of firing the coach or GM from me this offseason. We’re going with what we got so I’m going to sit back and trust they take care of business. There will be changes to all the assistant coaches which I consider a positive. Jay Woodcroft will be taking over in Bakersfield I’m going to also consider that a plus. The organization now has re-focused and re-dedicated themselves in fixing this once and for all. They’ve never had as much depth at all levels than they do as of today. The key will be putting it altogether and finding the right mix of players to build a winner. If they don’t and we’re in the same position next year it will be a different conversation but I believe in the core of this team and am certainly not going to be negative all offseason with #firechiarelli or #fireMcLellan hashtags. Last season is over with, next year is a brand new season full of renewed optimism and new expectations. Some fans will continue to dwell on the past but I choose to look to the future. Everyone gets a fresh start and an opportunity to prove last year was just an anomaly. Hopefully all the adversity this team dealt with last year will make them stronger than ever next year. Us fans expect nothing less.
The Championship run starts now.
To comment please do so via Twitter @TheOilKnight