Depending on what his former boss with the Detroit Red Wings decides, Todd McLellan could be the rock star of the NHL coaching free agent pool this offseason. Which is why it would be wise to snatch him up fast ... which is why Peter Chiarelli met with the former San Jose Sharks coach in Prague.
Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun reported, in a roundabout way, that the new Edmonton Oilers GM met with McLellan, who is currently coaching Team Canada in the IIHF world championships. Jones dropped that nugget after reporting that Chiarelli left Prague before Mike Babcock – currently of the Red Wings – arrived.
McLellan, you’ll recall, mutually uncoupled from the San Jose Sharks last month after seven season. He had already been in contact with the Oilers, speaking with president Bob Nicholson and former GM Craig MacTavish. This was reportedly the first time he met with Chiarelli.
Sebastian Noren of Today’s Slapshot likes the idea, with regard to the Oilers’ overall experience levels:
Before coming into the NHL as an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings, McLellan spent several years with the Swift Current Broncos in the WHL. During his six-season career with the Broncos, he lead the team to the playoffs every single year. He also has a Calder Cup win as the coach of the Houston Aeros on his resume.
It’s evident that McLellan has what it takes to coach younger players and help them succeed. Edmonton thought that it had found their man in Dallas Eakins who had a good record in coaching young players in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies. But McLellan’s resume is a lot more impressive and the fact that he has such a long history of coaching a top team in the Western Conference speaks to him being a great fit for the Oilers. Being able to offer the next coach a chance to teach a player like McDavid must be a great bargaining chip to have.
That’s true, which is why there won’t be any shortage of interested parties for that Edmonton job. Ken Hitchcock would be a great fit. Mike Babcock would have a $4 million annual contract thrown at him if he half-smiled at Daryl Katz.
McLellan would cost less and bring the same dogma. And he was rather intrigued by the possibility in an interview with the Sun:
“Edmonton has always been an interesting spot for many people, I think,” said the coach, who much like what happened to the new general manager in Boston, made the playoffs every year until missed for the first time this year, only to find himself out the door.
“It’s a team with a rich history and they have some good players there. Now you add in McDavid, Bob taking over and Peter coming in. I really do think there were good people there before. What job descriptions they end up in, I’m not sure. But there will be a very strong team and group of people there.
“For any coach to consider all of that, it has to be a positive. It has to be exciting, not just for myself but for anybody. With all those good players there, it will eventually get going the right way. I think some of the changes and the draft pick on Connor McDavid’s year make it enticing.”
No doubt it does. Of course, with McLellan also high on the Buffalo Sabres' short list, he might coach either McDavid or Jack Eichel next season. Good place to be in...
MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY