With all the moves the Oilers have made since Peter Chiarelli took over as President of Hockey Operations and General Manager, there is a sense of excitement around Edmonton. The Oilers not only drafted the highly talented Connor McDavid first overall, but they executed a handful of trades that brought them two defencemen, a potential starting goaltender and a depth winger. In free agency, the Oilers snagged a top-four defenceman and another depth forward.
Combine those personnel moves with the hiring of Todd McLellan and his coaching staff, and the new-look Oilers offer a lot to be excited about. McLellan himself sees that.
“A lot of exciting things are happening in our organization,” said McLellan. “I’m back in Edmonton now for the first time in a little while and there’s a sense of excitement outside the rink and with fans that I run into and that’s exciting and encouraging. We added pieces at the draft. I thought Peter and his staff did a fantastic job of preparing for that and executing. Then obviously, yesterday (we added) a couple more pieces. Transforming the roster, trying to fill holes, trying to improve areas.”
While McLellan and his staff are excited about the changes, it’s the product on the ice that matters most.
“I’ve also reminded a lot of people, including our coaching staff, that it’s what happens between the boards for 60 minutes that really counts,” said McLellan. “We can put names on the board, we can fool around on paper and talk about a lot of things but we have to blend all this together. We have to make a decision on how we want to play and we have to commit to that, not only through some good days but through the bad days. We’ll still have those. We’ll try to work towards an identity and build on that day in and day out. The team looks different than it did a few weeks ago, but there’s work to do.”
While the coaching staff and the players maybe need to temper their enthusiasm a bit and just focus on the task at hand, McLellan says the fans shouldn’t have to.
“We have keep it real,” said McLellan. “I hope that the people in Edmonton and in the hockey world keep that excitement up. It forces us to execute and keeps us on our toes. That’s a really good thing. We also have to do this methodically. We have to incorporate how we want to play. We can’t go from A to M and skip all the other letters in the alphabet. The would be dangerous. We have to do it methodically and we have to develop an identity, we’ve got to get our foundation in place and grow as a team now. We’ve got 1/3, 1/4 turnover. There are a lot of fresh faces, new ideas, a belief system that needs to be built with the existing players that are returning and the new ones. Methodical.”