Report: Oilers to announce McLellan hire this week

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Edmonton is set to name Todd McLellan as its new head coach this week, according to sources of Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

McLellan, 47, would inherit a team that went 24-44-14 last season — the third-worst record in the league — under Dallas Eakins and Todd Nelson, who took over as an interim bench boss in mid-December (no word yet on what Nelson’s future has in store.)

Despite those ugly numbers, the Edmonton situation has to be appealing for McLellan. He’ll not only get to further work with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle — the trio combined to win gold for Team Canada on Sunday at the World Championships — but will also inherit the No. 1 overall pick at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, which the Oilers will use to select OHL Erie phenom and “generational talent” Connor McDavid.

McLellan has spent the last seven seasons in San Jose, making the playoffs six times while recording at least 40 wins every year (and three 50-win campaigns.) A former assistant under Mike Babcock in Detroit, McLellan’s been pegged as the frontrunner for the Edmonton job for a while; in early May, new Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli flew to the Worlds in the Czech Republic to interview him for the head coaching gig and the Edmonton Sun reported both Hall and Eberle had been asking “a lot of questions” of McLellan’s former player, Team Canada d-man Brent Burns, while also praising their experience under the ex-Sharks bench boss.

Assuming the Sportsnet report is accurate and McLellan does get the Oilers gig, the team will also get an assistant coach as well. In speaking with the Sun, McLellan acknowledged he already has a hire in mind: Jay Woodcroft, his longtime right-hand man in San Jose.

“Jay, if I get the opportunity to move on, will be part of my staff. I believe in him that much,” McLellan explained. “I think it’s really important when you find a guy that you can trust and who can keep you organized and prepared and works his butt off.”

Per Sportsnet, the announcement date hasn’t been finalized yet, but McLellan could be introduced as the new head coach as early as Tuesday.

Video: Seguin scores hat trick as Canada blasts Belarus at Worlds

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Canada recorded another blowout victory at the 2015 World Hockey Championships on Thursday, crushing Belarus 9-0 in quarterfinal action at the O2 Arena in the Czech Republic.

Canada — which has already scored 6-1, 10-0, 7-2 and 10-1 wins this tournament — wasted little time burying Belarus as Brent Burns, Tyler Ennis, Ryan O’Reilly and Tyler Seguin scored in a 17-minute span in the first period to put the Canadians out to a 4-0 lead.

The onslaught continued from there. Seguin scored two more to complete the hat-trick while Burns and O’Reilly each scored their second goals of the game. Jason Spezza potted the ninth and final goal with just under five minutes remaining.

In goal, Arizona netminder Mike Smith had a relatively easy time of things, stopping all 24 shots faced for his first shutout of the tournament. Belarus’ Kevin Lalande, who had played well leading up to the quarterfinals, was torched for all nine goals, but still finished with 41 saves.

With the win, Canada now moves on to face the winner of Finland-Czech Republic in the semifinals.

McLellan-to-Edmonton talks gaining steam

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Things are heating up between Todd McLellan and the Oilers.

According to the Edmonton Sun, forwards Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle — both currently playing under McLellan at the Worlds — have been asking “a lot of questions” of McLellan’s former player, Team Canada d-man Brent Burns, while also praising their experience under the ex-Sharks bench boss.

“[McLellan’s] been great,” Hall told the Sun.

“I’ve been impressed,” added Eberle.

New Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli, currently in the Czech Republic for the Worlds, already interviewed McLellan for the head coaching gig — a position that, while currently “filled” by interim bench boss Todd Nelson, is obviously up for grabs.

What’s more, McLellan previously expressed an interest in joining the Oilers.

“Edmonton has always been an interesting spot for many people,” he said, per NHL.com. “It’s a team with a rich history and they have some good players there. Now you add in [potential No. 1 2015 NHL Draft pick Connor] McDavid, Bob [Nicholson, Oilers CEO] taking over and Peter coming in.

“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. ”

And just to take things a step further, now we’re learning that McLellan already has his staff picked out. In speaking with the Sun, he acknowledged there’s an assistant coach at the ready: Jay Woodcroft, McLellan’s longtime right-hand man in San Jose.

“Jay, if I get the opportunity to move on, will be part of my staff. I believe in him that much,” McLellan explained. “I think it’s really important when you find a guy that you can trust and who can keep you organized and prepared and works his butt off.

“It’s essential. And that’s the plan for me as I move forward.”

With all this said, it’ll be interesting to see if today’s announcement out of Detroit — that Mike Babcock has been granted permission to interview elsewhere — will alter Edmonton’s course of action. Nicholson has a strong relationship with Babcock dating back to their time together with the Canadian Olympic teams, and the lure of coaching McDavid is strong.

Seguin, Giroux highlight Team Canada roster for Worlds

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Canada won’t be lacking for offensive weapons at this year’s World Hockey Championships.

Two of the league’s top-12 scorers — Dallas’ Tyler Seguin and Philly’s Claude Giroux — will wear the red and white in Prague from May 1-17, Hockey Canada announced on Tuesday. Seguin and Giroux were part of the original 19-man roster set for the tournament; Canada can register up to 25 players as teams are eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The rest of the Canadian roster looks like this…

Goalies: Martin Jones, Mike Smith

Defense: Tyson Barrie, Brent Burns, Aaron Ekblad, Jake Muzzin, David Savard

Forwards: Seguin, Giroux, Matt Duchene, Cody Eakin, Jordan Eberle, Tyler Ennis, Taylor Hall, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan O’Reilly, Jason Spezza, Tyler Toffoli.

Team Canada will be coached by Todd McLellan.

NHL on NBCSN: Sharks, Avs hope to keep distant playoff hopes alive

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign tonight with a doubleheader. The second game of that series will see the San Jose Sharks host the Colorado Avalanche at the SAP Center, starting at 10:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

Even in a best-case scenario, it’s difficult to imagine the Colorado Avalanche or San Jose Sharks storming to a playoff berth this season. Many members of each team seem to know that.

According to Sports Club Stats, the Avs boast a .1 percent chance to make the postseason while the Sharks have a 2.6 percent chance. You get the impression that mathematical elimination will just be a formality at some point.

Matt Duchene told the Denver Post that the Avalanche just want to make every game count, a sentiment that’s likely echoed by the Sharks.

“We’re both still fighting, and it’s not over until it’s over,” Duchene said. “We’re not done until we’re mathematically eliminated. If we go 6-0 in the last six games, we’re going to give ourselves a shot. We have to make these games count — all six of them.”

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Despite their current predicaments, the two teams boast some talent that could entertain on NBCSN tonight.

The Sharks employ a group of forwards that are talented enough that it’s tough to believe they’ll almost certainly be watching the playoffs on TV with the rest of us. For all the controversy surrounding Joe Thornton, he’s had a great season feeding Joe Pavelski while Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture also rank as big offensive threats. Don’t forget dragon-loving hybrid defenseman Brent Burns, either.

Colorado isn’t far behind.

It’s been a disappointing season for the likes of Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon, yet the Avalanche are enjoying production from veterans (Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay) and guys deep in their primes (Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly).

Expect to see two desperate hockey teams on NBCSN tonight, then.