A week after being named the next President of Hockey Operations and General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers, it is time for Ken Holland to truly get to work. The expectation around the hockey world is that Holland’s search for the next head coach of the Edmonton Oilers will ramp up as early as today. In fact, the process very well could already be moving quickly.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman had an update in the latest edition of 31 Thoughts, which you can read in full here.
Here’s Friedman on veteran coach Dave Tippett and his possible connection to Edmonton.
(In Thought 1) I think Edmonton is more likely for Dave Tippett. Sabres GM Jason Botterill spoke to Krueger before hiring Phil Housley in 2017. I can’t find anything with a cursory Google search, but I wonder if there is a connection between Krueger and Botterill’s father.
It sounds like Buffalo has surrounded former Oilers coach Ralph Krueger as their next man, meaning it is basically Edmonton or bust for Tippett. That has to make him the favorite, right? Exactly, according to Friedman.
(In Thought 2) Tippett is the favourite in the Alberta capital, with Smith and Dallas assistant Todd Nelson also possibilities.
Smith is in reference to Toronto Maple Leafs assistant DJ Smith, whose name has popped up in a number of different places including both Buffalo and Ottawa this off-season. Nelson, of course, served as the interim coach of the Oilers during the 2014-15 season after Dallas Eakins was fired from his post.
Interestingly, Nelson has a connection with Holland. After leaving Edmonton following the hiring of Todd McLellan, Nelson ended up as the head coach of Detroit’s AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids. He’d win a Calder Cup with the team and earn the respect of Detroit’s next crop of players.
So, to this point, it appears Friedman believes there are three serious contenders for the job, with Tippett leading the way and Smith/Nelson being the next tier. It is my belief that Holland will speak to around five candidates, meaning there are two we don’t know about yet.
Perhaps one of those options could end up in Edmonton in addition to one of the three names mentioned above. Perhaps as an assistant? Friedman touched on that as well.
(In Thought 3) Former Florida coach Bob Boughner is a possibility as an Edmonton assistant.
I believe, initially, Boughner was viewed as a candidate for the head job with the Oilers. I’m no longer sure that is the case. However, I thought Boughner did good work with the Florida Panthers during the last two seasons. When healthy, Florida was strong offensive team with possession stats almost always at or over 50%. He was sunk by bad goaltending and I think was unfairly let go earlier this spring. I’d have a lot of time for him.
The initial timeline for Holland to hire his first coach was expected to be around two weeks, with interviews really picking up this week. There is little doubt that more than three candidates were interviewed, but at this point it appears three men have separated themselves from the pack.
The veteran Tippett, whose biggest hurdle to Edmonton is money, seems to be the leader in the clubhouse. In terms of the biggest hurdle being money for Tippett, expectation was that Buffalo would create a bidding war for his services and price him out of Edmonton’s range. That won’t happen now.
It appears that Edmonton’s search has narrowed to Tippett, Nelson and Smith, with Bob Boughner being a strong candidate to land on the staff of the next head coach. As I tweeted Saturday night, if Krueger goes to Buffalo you can expect Tippett in Edmonton. The smoke is getting thicker when it comes to that.