Despite having gotten off to a better start than most had envisioned, the outlook for the Edmonton Oilers remains relatively unchanged. As we all know, the expectation for the tandem of Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan were rather lofty, so the fact this group is still viewed as being, at best, a fringe playoff team isn’t a good thing. Those results, combined with a newfound opportunity may force Daryl Katz into making a move quicker than expected.
With his club in the midst of what has quickly become an ugly four-game losing skid and the masses, once again, screaming for change, the time for Katz to seriously contemplate his next move is upon us. Add the sudden availability of Joel Quenneville, who many view as one of the top two head coaches in the NHL, and the writing could very well be on the wall for the current regime.
Quenneville Is As Good as There Is
Should the organization decide to go in a new direction, it will come down to two simple things. Does the former Chicago Blackhawks bench boss have any interest in coming to the Alberta capital and how many cheques is the owner of this club willing to write to try to get this ship pointed in the right direction? If the first part of the equation is realistic, Katz would be off his rocker to not pursue things further and in short order.
Unfortunately, such a decision will come at a cost and it will be rather substantial. According to Sportsnet’s analyst Nick Kypreos, apparently “the want” to get back behind the bench quickly is quite real for Quenneville but so will an additional two or three years of term being tacked onto his current deal with Chicago that is set to expire following the 2019-20 campaign.
In other words, the Oilers would be looking at a four or five year deal in the neighbourhood of $6 million per season, with the Blackhawks chipping in some cash to help get Quennville’s hit off their books in a timely manner and allow them to turn the page. Seems simple enough and it brings us to step two and the termination of McLellan’s contract and eating the remaining dollars on his deal.
It might not be too long before we see Joel Quenneville behind an NHL bench again.https://t.co/1MSOrNyWz8
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 11, 2018
Just like Quennville, the native of Melville, Saskatchewan has another year left on his current contract that sees Edmonton pay him an annual salary of $3 million. Obviously, shelling out that kind of coin on coaches is not ideal, especially when one of the two will no longer be with the organization but that can sometimes be the price of doing business. A tough pill to swallow to be sure but one this organization should gladly accept.
Oilers are Spinning Their Wheels
In his defence, McLellan has never been given a proper roster to work with during his tenure in Edmonton but he has had his hiccups along the way. Be it from a style of play, an unwillingness to make in-game adjustments or the usage of some of his players, both young and old, the missteps are there for all to see. However, at the end of the day, a coach can only work with what he has been given and in my mind, there are pieces of the puzzle still missing.
In the grand scheme of things, when an organization fails to reach expectations the general manager will ultimately pay the price but in most cases, the head coach is given his walking papers prior to. Chances are we will likely see the same script followed with the Oilers when it comes to Chiarelli. With that said, unless Quenneville were to come in and galvanize the group to a surprising run in the playoffs, the GM is on borrowed time.
Related: Oilers: The Puljujarvi, Yamamoto Conundrum
Though we have never officially seen a number or term tied to Chiarelli upon his hiring, chances are the latter would be the same as the head coach and former would be quite substantial. After all, we are talking about a man who not only hold the title of general manager with the club but also that of President of Hockey Operations and was sought after rather aggressively by this organization.
Again, the cost won’t be pretty and chances are we won’t see anything happen until the summer with Chiarelli but if it’s for the long-term betterment of the club, the owner will have to pull out the chequebook and make the problem go away. That may sound a tad harsh but if the alternative is to alienate large chunks of this fan base, which believe it or not…is starting to happen, the decision becomes easier and easier by the minute.
Simply put, an opportunity to bring in a coach as highly-regarded as Joel Quenneville doesn’t happen every day. The Edmonton Oilers are at the stage where the so-called “status quo” can longer be accepted and the only person who can make that a reality is Daryl Katz. It won’t be pleasant but there is only one direction this thing can go in hopes of turning this thing around and the sooner it happens the better.
Rob Soria is the Author of Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One. He has chronicled the Orange and Blue since creating his Oil Drop blog in 2011 and has also had his writings featured over at HometownHockey.ca and Vavel USA, where he has covered the NHL, MLB and ATP Tour. Rob was born, raised and still resides in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached via twitter @Oil_Drop.