June 21: After reports earlier confirmed a deal was done, the Oilers have officially announced a three-year contract for Woodcroft, taking away the interim tag. Extending through the 2024-25 season, the coach will have his chance to take Edmonton all the way after an outstanding debut in the second half.
June 19: With Edmonton making it to the Western Conference Final, the expectation was that Oilers would lift the interim tag off head coach Jay Woodcroft. They’re getting close to doing just that as ESPN’s Kevin Weekes reports (Twitter link) that Edmonton is making progress on a three-year contract with the bench boss. Postmedia’s Kurt Leavins adds that expects the deal to be finalized by the end of the month.
Edmonton’s turnaround after Woodcroft was promoted from AHL Bakersfield to replace Dave Tippett back in February was quite astounding. The Oilers played to a .724 points percentage with a 26-9-3 record under his tutelage, a far cry from the 8-13-3 the team had put up under Tippett in the nearly ten weeks leading up to his departure. They showed considerable improvement defensively without significantly affecting one of the strongest offenses in the league which allowed them to finish second in the Pacific Division at the end of the season.
From there, Edmonton squeaked by Los Angeles in the first round before stunning provincial rival Calgary (who won the Pacific) with a five-game series victory. They weren’t as successful against Colorado, however, as they were ousted in four straight. Still, it was a strong season overall for the Oilers so the news that they’re getting closer to getting Woodcroft signed shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
While they don’t have to get it done right away, the sooner GM Ken Holland can get this done, the better. Edmonton has several prominent pending free agents highlighted by winger Evander Kane among those eligible for unrestricted free agency and wingers Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi among the RFA-eligible players. With minimal cap space to work with, Holland will need to focus most of his time on getting things settled on that front so getting Woodcroft’s deal signed sooner than later will give him more time to focus on their needed roster movement this summer.