Speculation Time: Dave Cameron and Paul Jerrard spotted at development camp

Amid the excitement that accompanies every free agency period in the NHL there still remains the lone coaching vacancy behind the bench beside new Flames coach Glen Gulutzan. The role once held by Jacques Cloutier under Bob Hartley’s tenure has been a quiet topic, with little discussion of who would be a candidate for the role.

It’s no surprise that with the message conveyed from the top down – from Treliving’s lips to Gulutzan’s – that the emphasis is on improving the power play, as well as overarching systems. And with that, these attributes should be a priority over anything else, really.

Dave Cameron is an interesting name for a few reasons. Recently fired by Ottawa’s new management and replaced by former-Lightning Head Coach Guy Boucher, Cameron is obviously looking for work and with the limited options available at the NHL level it makes sense for him to potentially pursue a role here.

Though, from an incredibly objective perspective, I would walk with caution if Cameron is legitimately being considered.

Cameron’s Tenure In Ottawa

After four seasons, including a final impressive showing with the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, Cameron joined the Senators coaching staff as part of Paul MacLean’s team. Collectively, under MacLean’s initial lead the Senators looked promising for the first couple of seasons, including a berth into the second round of the playoffs in 2012-13.

With MacLean’s waning results, he was terminated, and Cameron took over in December 2014 in a season that was full of immeasurable luck. The Senators’ incredible late-season push helped vault them into a first-round match up with the Habs, with the Senators bowing out in six games.

This past season was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster on all fronts for the Senators. Their power play, penalty kill, offense, and virtually every other facet imaginable in their game was horrendous. More so, the overwhelming poor decisions in player usage did a massive number on their overall performance. 

Those decisions included:

  • Utilizing offensive threats Mike Hoffman and Bobby Ryan in roles they are not suited for (playing a gritty/grinding game in limited minutes at times). This stymies and limits the team collectively if your best players aren’t being used correctly.
  • Using Mark Borowiecki, a depth defenseman in a variety of different scenarios up to and including playing him on the top line in a game. This went as well as you would imagine.

Why Avoiding Cameron Is Smart

Honestly, it should be self-explanatory: the results that Cameron produced in Ottawa are the exact opposite, in literally every way, that you want the Calgary Flames to play moving forward. A team with Erik Karlsson had a power play under his tenure was 26th last season at an astonishingly poor 15.8% (1.2% lower than the Flames). 

Their penalty kill was even more dreadful, a cringe-worthy 75.8% (0.3% higher than the Flames); yet another red flag which should bring pause on anyone considering this option. Though a truly remarkable facet of their woeful penalty kill was an impressive 13 shorthanded goals scored (4v5). 

From a pure underlying numbers perspective, the Senators were nothing to write home about. Even with the talent of Karlsson, the collective team under its systems and usage was a 47.45% CF team at 5v5. Adjusting it by score, zone, and venue brings them to 46.68%, which was unfortunately good enough for 26th in the league.

To sum it up: even if he was in an associate coaching role, it completely misses the mark as to what would logically be a smart hire for the team. If they want someone to improve all these areas in conjunction with Glen Gulutzan then they should look elsewhere. 

The only thing that may help him get meaningful consideration are his ties to Hockey Canada. Recently, he was a member of Bill Peters’ coaching staff as Team Canada won gold at the World Championships. With the Flames’ numerous connections to Hockey Canada, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities for that to be an in for Cameron.

Who is Paul Jerrard?

The other name floated and spotted today was longtime assistant coach Paul Jerrard who has incredibly close ties to Gulutzan during his time with Texas (AHL) and with the Stars at the NHL level. After Gulutzan’s leave of the Dallas organization, Jerrard joined the Canucks organization with the Utica Comets as an assistant to Travis Green in 2013.

With the recent acquisition of Alex Chiasson and the signing today of Linden Vey, the Gulutzan connection is starting to take shape in various factors for the organization. Over the next few days, Treliving has been quiet about the search – and he said today that there was nothing to report just yet – but it’ll be interesting on who they will hire to fill out the rest of the staff for next season.