The Edmonton Oilers are off to a terrible start with a 2-7-1 record through ten games, and something has to change before they begin to improve. The team’s star players have been good, but not great. However, they are likely to bounce back soon.
With the team’s struggles, Ryan Rishaug, an Oilers insider with TSN, stated that head coach Jay Woodcroft may be on the hot seat, and the team may be looking at other options if things don’t change fast.
The Oilers hired Woodcroft in Feb. 2022 after they relieved Dave Tippett of his head coaching duties. Before joining the club, Woodcroft was the head coach for the Oilers’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Bakersfield Condors. Under Woodcroft, the Condors posted a 105-71-21 record, and those who recognized the development of the organization’s prospects and depth players began to take notice of him as a coach.
Many were excited for the future when he made the jump. The Oilers thrived under their new head coach and had more success in the playoffs than with Tippett. The criticism towards Woodcroft stems from the team’s slow start and unwillingness to split up his stars. While Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl look amazing on the power play, they should be split up at even strength to give more opportunities to guys like Dylan Holloway and Raphael Lavoie, but he refuses to do that.
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While there are mixed opinions about how the Oilers should fix their problems, Woodcroft might be the one on the way out, according to Rishaug.
What Coaches Could Replace Woodcroft?
I don’t think replacing Woodcroft is the right thing to do. However, management has to consider it to turn the team’s season around. There are a few coaches available who could be beneficial to the Oilers, including Gerard Gallant, who was most recently the head coach of the New York Rangers and has coached three other NHL teams. He has always been praised for his coaching, but he’s never won a Stanley Cup.
Another possibility is former Vancouver Canucks head coach, Bruce Boudreau. Boudreau was the head coach of the Anaheim Ducks, Washington Capitals, and Minnesota Wild, but has also yet to win a Stanley Cup. Other available coaches to consider are Dave Manson, who is currently the Oilers’ assistant coach, and Mike Yeo, who is an assistant coach with the Canucks. But if the team opts to let Woodcroft go, they will have to find a winning coach right away.
While many of these coaches could bring their experience and benefit the Oilers, and likely help turn the team’s slow start around with a fresh face and a changed system, they aren’t the long-term answer. There are bigger issues at hand with a terrible defensive group and subpar goaltending to start the season, and that should be their focus before blaming the coaches like the team has done in the past. A coaching change might work in the short term and help the Oilers get to the playoffs, but it won’t be the solution forever. They should tackle their bigger issues first.
What’s Next For The Oilers?
First, the Oilers must move out their defensive liabilities – Evan Bouchard and Cody Ceci – and try to improve their goaltending. It might be hard to move Jack Campbell and his contract, but they need to try. There are plenty of affordable goaltending options around the league, such as Dan Vladar and Jeremy Swagman, but they need to be aggressive and try to make something happen.
The Oilers are back in action on Monday (Nov. 6) against the Canucks and will be looking for their first win in November. They lost the first two matchups with the Canucks – who are red-hot this season. Unfortunately for Woodcroft, every game might be a “prove it” game from here on out.