SteveTambellini takes Oscar Klefbom at the 2011 NHL entry draft. Photo by Lisa McRitchie all rights reserved
It was a lot of waiting, but the expected result; the Edmonton Oilers have extended the contract of GM Steve Tambellini for an undisclosed amount of time. Ryan Batty had a look at what the length may be, but in the meantime we are all just guessing. Really though, I agree that the length of the deal isn't very important to us. President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe, or owner Daryl Katz can choose to relieve Tambellini of his duties at any point and it's not as if his salary will count against the cap.
But now that we have a general manager in place, the head coach and coaching staff may not be too far behind. What will be interesting is whether or not current associate coach Ralph Kruger is given the head coach job and if not, whether or not he stays with the team. Usually when a new head coach comes in, he changes up the coaching staff to bring in people who knows, trusts and may have previously worked with. With the Oilers though, where all of the operations staff should feel that their jobs are on the line, it will be interesting to see how many changes are made.
Although we're still waiting for a coaching announcement, the draft is nearly upon us. And so, it is time for the now annual visits of the potential first overall players. Sunday night, Nail Yakupov landed in Edmonton and was given a personal tour. On Monday he was made available to the local media where he showed that he has quite the sense of humour to go along with his strong sense of confidence. Yakupov said that oddest question he received at the combine was whether or not he had a girlfriend. His response was yes, 2. And of course he hoped to add a third in Edmonton before he left. Yakupov also mentioned that he did not have plans to visit another city meaning that Columbus has no intentions of taking Yakupov. Or so it would seem.
Thursday it was Mikhail Grigorenko's turn to have a tour of the city and answer questions. Dressed in another, or the same, Canadian flag polo Grigorenko answered questions about his health (he's healthy and recovered from his bought of mono) and whether or not he wants to stay and play in the NHL (yes of course he does). Grigorenko is likely to go to the Montreal Canadiens, well that is if the Oilers go with Yakupov and the Columbus Blue Jackets take Ryan Murray, who also happened to be the next Edmonton visitor.
Friday Murray spoke to the media saying that he knows that he will need to do a lot of work to play in the NHL next season, but he is ready to do it. Murray also discussed his opportunity to play in the Worlds for Canada and with players like Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Murray admits with talent like that in front of you, it makes your job as a defenceman easier.
The Oilers have yet to come to a decision it sounds like, but they say that every year. The Oilers may not be willing to say that they are 100% certain of a player, but it's hard to doubt that they have a favourite. And so long as they pick the best player available and not for position the team will be better for it.