In a mere 6 six days, the Edmonton Oilers will step up to the NHL entry draft podium and select this year's class of players. No problem, that is where head of amateur scouting Stu MacGregor and his staff shine. But the problem with the draft of course, is that that is where teams begin to make deals that will affect their summer trades. And while the Oilers are without a head coach, it only makes the Oilers more of a gamble for any player looking for a new team. It is true that the team, the city and the teammates have a lot of bearing on a UFA's decision to sign somewhere but it also has to be said that the coach staff would be one of the biggest factors.
Although not a coaching announcement, the Oilers have announced the return of Craig MacTavish to the Oilers family. MacT returns in a brand new position created as Vice President of Hockey Operations and so is working just below Kevin Lowe and just above the man who ended MacT's time in Edmonton, Steve Tambellini. It appears as though this move is one to facilitate Lowe's eventual retirement. After all, managing the Edmonton Oilers is a full time job, and other teams have just as much or more management staff. Some can't help but wonder if this is just a move to set the Oilers up for a backup head coach, but with MacT's hockey knowledge and experience, it makes sense to think that he is just ready to move into different hockey operations positions.
From last year's draft class, Oscar Klefbom is now officialy an Oiler. Well, sort of. He has now signed his entry level contract, but has not put on an Oilers' uniform since the day he was drafted. Klefbom has spoken about his excitement to come to Edmonton and play for the Oilers, but he is looking forward to his opportunity to play more minutes this coming season in the Swedish Elite League.
As much as Klefbom is a high profile Oiler prospect who is seen as a sort of savoir for the Oilers defensive core, he still needs time to develop. After all, look at what time has done for Jeff Petry and Ladislav Smid.
The Oilers are note expected to make a coaching decision until after the draft. But at this point, the candidates still appear to be down to associate coach Ralph Kruger and Brent Sutter. There are perceived gambles to both coaches, but at this point all we can do is hope that it will work out. And that of course the team makes their announcement before free agency day.