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.