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.