The regular season ended a mere ten days ago, but it’s not stopping the Kings from splashing the pot. Interim head coach Willie Desjardins was informed that he wouldn’t be back for the 2019-20 NHL season.
The LA Kings have agreed to terms on a multi-year contract for Todd McLellan to serve as the Kings new head coach https://t.co/dyNNKAasbk— LA Kings (@LAKings) April 16, 2019
The Kings jumped at the chance to hire former Oilers (and Sharks) bench boss Todd McLellan. McLellan’s deal is a multi year deal (we’ll find out tomorrow exactly how many, though I think I may have read it was five), and he’ll assume the lead on a team that’s chock full of veteran contracts.
Good for Todd.
While I won’t miss his over-reliance on his veteran players, and I will likely not miss his lacklustre special teams performance (how do you finish last on the power play in 2017-18?), I think it’s great for him that he’s getting another crack behind the bench. I’m sure he won’t mind being back in California once again, having spent seven years with the Sharks prior to his time in Edmonton.
I think it’s fair to suggest that McLellan got a long look from the Kings (the Sabres were interested as well) based on his time in San Jose. McLellan’s Sharks made the playoffs six straight years until 2014-15 when San Jose finished out of the race with 89 points. McLellan made the Conference Finals on two occasions with the Sharks (2009-10, 2010-11), but couldn’t push the rock over the hill.
You’ll recall the Oilers making it to the second round of the playoffs in 2016-17. Our finest moment in over a decade was sweet, but fleeting. And really, it was a dang miracle that the Oilers were able to get to the second round of the playoffs while he was here. McLellan took the Oilers to the dance one year out of the three full years he was behind the bench. It was fuelled almost entirely by Connor McDavid reaching the hundred point plateau for the first time in his career, and a red-hot Cam Talbot. McDavid’s 100 point outburst (30-70-100) in 2016-17 would earn him the MVP award. Cam Talbot finished with a sublime .927 SV% while 5 on 5 in 2016-17 while appearing in 73 games.
When your backup is Jonas Gustavsson, you’re not going to be resting a whole lot.
McLellan is going to have his hands full in LA. He loves his veteran players, and LA is full of them. Unfortunately for Todd McLellan, the Kings have an uphill battle. Finishing at the bottom of the Pacific Division with just 71 points and an abysmal minus-61 goal differential, the Kings scored the league’s second fewest goals per game (2.43) and ranked 22nd overall with 3.16 goals against. The Kings’ cap situation isn’t much rosier than the Oilers, and they’ve got many players that are 30+ that have more than 2 years remaining on their deals. Anze Kopitar (31) has five years remaining with a NMC. Jeff Carter (34) has three more years. Ilya Kovalchuk (36) has a 35+ contract and two years with a NMC. What about three more years of Jeff Carter (34) or two more years of Dion Phaneuf (34), or eight more years of Drew Doughty (29)? That’s a lot of years, and a lot of dollars for a big chunk of a club that finished worst in the Pacific this season.
You’ve got your work cut out for you, Todd.
Good luck. Except when you play the Oilers.