EDMONTON — How to best characterize the pressure in Edmonton this summer…? Acute, perhaps?
Let’s put it this way: After missing the playoffs by 17 points in 2017-18, Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli and head coach Todd McLellan were given a chance to right the ship for next season. But miss the playoffs again, with one year remaining on each of their deals, and you can rest assured that owner Daryl Katz will be in replacement mode a year from now.
On the ice, several players whose games dipped last season — Cam Talbot, Milan Lucic, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, and many more — will be expected to revert to the mean. Off the ice, Chiarelli had better not waste another year of Connor McDavid without bringing in any playoff revenue, after the organization pared down internally this summer due to a lack of said playoff revenues.
Chiarelli cleared out McLellan’s assistant coaches this spring, firing Jim Johnson and Ian Herbers, while assigning Jay Woodcroft to run AHL Bakersfield. He replaced them with Glen Gulutzan, Trent Yawney and Manny Viveiros, a veteran staff that should be able to figure things out in Edmonton.
Now, Chiarelli has to make a few personnel tweaks and get this train back on the tracks. There is too much talent here, on paper, to miss the playoffs again.
The next firings, if this program doesn’t get fixed, will happen above the assistant coaching level.
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Salary Cap Space: $10,103,834
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Yohann Auvitu, defence, $700,000
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