When you are supposed to be a Stanley Cup contender but sit at the bottom of the NHL standings, no one is safe. In the case of the Edmonton Oilers, no one in the organization sans Connor McDavid should be safe. The rumblings from the big wigs in hockey media are pointing us in that direction, the one that says no one in the Oiler organization should feel safe.
I’ve been all over GM Peter Chiarelli, and I will continue to be until he turns this ship around or is fired, but to this point I have allowed Todd McLellan to skate free without much criticism. The feeling from me is that Chiarelli screwed him with this roster, and I still very much feel that way. That being said, Todd McLellan is doing an awful job this season and we need to talk about it.
The Oilers are 11-15-2 and appear to be dead in the water as we approach the Christmas holiday. For a team that was one goal away from the conference final a year ago, this is an extremely bitter pill to swallow. Fact of the matter is, the Edmonton Oilers simply aren’t competitive, and very soon the playoffs will be well out of reach.
The biggest issue in Edmonton? The roster simply isn’t good enough. Peter Chiarelli actively made the team worse this past summer and sewered a pretty good roster. A decline in wins and points absolutely should have been expected coming into the season. That vision is sadly becoming a reality.
What Is On McLellan?:
– The Edmonton Oilers lack of effort is honestly quite disturbing. When the club is ready to go, they can still dominate games. Case in point: Their effort in Calgary this past Saturday night. Far too often, however, the club fails to show up ready to go and finds themselves in a hole early. Recent home games against Arizona, Toronto and Philadelphia are perfect examples where the Oilers simply failed to show up for the first 20-40 minutes of action and it cost them in a big way.
This is a common theme, too. The Oilers haven’t won three games in a row this season and a big reason for that is their inability to compete. The team is content showing up and going through the motions, they once again appear content with losing on a nightly basis. There is no urgency, there is no desperation, this team seemingly doesn’t care.
They aren’t prepared on a nightly basis, and that falls on the coach’s shoulders. McLellan has done an awful job getting these guys ready to go on a nightly basis.
– The Oil also look completely lost most nights. They are currently playing a zone defense, and they appear confused most nights. Watch an out of town broadcast and you will hear the opposing announcers absolutely crush the Oilers for their lack of defensive awareness. That comes from not knowing the system. The Oilers look confused as to what they are doing a lot and that falls on the coach. He’s failed to get the system through the heads of these guys and he has failed to adjust his system.
– Special teams. Edmonton’s powerplay hasn’t scored a goal in eight games and has just 12 tallies on the season. A team with so much talent on the powerplay is completely anemic with the man advantage. It absolutely baffles the mind. This should be a top-10 powerplay in the NHL, but it has consistently had issues under McLellan. Right now, it is running at a below acceptable rate and a lot of the blame falls on the coaching staff.
The penalty kill alone should get Jim Johnson fired off the team’s coaching staff. The Oil have allowed a putrid 26 goals this season and are below 60% on the PK at home. These numbers are historically bad and it is the worst penalty kill I have EVER seen. I’m not exaggerating either, in my time working high school, junior and AHL hockey, I’ve never seen a worse penalty kill. Two words describe Edmonton’s PK: Embarrassing, Pathetic.
– Pure stubbornness. Does this roster have holes? Yes, it absolutely does, but McLellan simply refuses to adjust to the issues and work with what he has. He is far too stubborn in his ways and can’t or won’t adjust. Sure, Edmonton doesn’t have enough NHL wingers, the GM did a horrible job there. McLellan’s solution? Healthy scratch Jesse Puljujarvi and Anton Slepyshev, two of the few NHL wingers he has. Sorry, but that is on the coach.
His inability to play Leon Draisaitl at center, his stubbornness to force feed a clearly done Mike Cammalleri top-six minutes and reliance on AHL players like Yohann Auvitu and Eric Gryba are infuriating tendencies that are costing the Oilers on a nightly basis.
Edmonton’s roster isn’t good enough this season and that falls on the shoulders of the GM. I’ve been very vocal about it and I’ll say it again: Peter Chiarelli absolutely should lose his job over this debacle of a season. What is going on in Edmonton right now is completely unacceptable. I, for one, have embraced the #Fenton2018 movement.
That said, Todd McLellan should not be shielded from any criticism. His roster isn’t ideal, but he has failed in a major way this season as well. His historically bad special teams units and lost defensive group are on him. Adjustments could be made and he simply isn’t willing to do it, he is too stubborn and is sticking with a failing system.
At this point, I’m pretty much on board with a complete tear down of the front office and coaching staff. Todd McLellan isn’t getting nearly enough out of this roster. Sure, it isn’t as good as last year, but this team should not be in the basement. The coach absolutely deserves some blames and absolutely should be on the hotseat.