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Who are the top contenders for Mike Babcock? (Puck Daddy)

Begun, The Great Mike Babcock Bidding War has.  The Detroit Red Wings coach has permission from his team to speak with any and all NHL clubs that would (a) like to make him the highest paid coach in NHL history and (b) believe his magic coaching dust can be sprinkled on all of their problems and (c) apparently don’t care that Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and/or Henrik Zetterberg aren’t on their rosters. Elliotte Friedman is the king of informed speculation, and he laid out the Babcock Derby quite well on Sportsnet. The top three contenders? The Detroit Red Wings, the Buffalo Sabres and the Philadelphia Flyers. The Red Wings’ candidacy should be obvious, as Babcock loves the franchise and the owners and the general manager and could be quite happy there. Unless the is grass is greener elsewhere, “green” being the operative word. Terry Pegula will throw plenty of green at Babcock to come coach the Sabres. But for a coach that wants to win ASAP, waiting for that team to form around the nucleus of Jack Eichel might not be that appealing. There is a personal connection between Babcock and GM Tim Murray, back when Murray was an underling in the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim front office. The Flyers? From Friedman: Ron Hextall’s done a very good job of staying in the cone of silence. But his peers across the NHL believe he has been waiting for this, planning meticulously for the opportunity. You have to think Toronto will make the largest financial offer, but other teams think Philly is going to be up there, too. What does Babcock think of Claude Giroux, Steve Mason, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek and their young defencemen not yet in the NHL? Once news began to break that maybe Edmonton was out, Philly became a popular pick for Babcock’s destination. Wait, uh, Edmonton is out? From Friedman: Peter Chiarelli and Todd Nelson had a lengthy meeting on Saturday. The Oilers aren’t commenting about their situation, but several sources both in North America and attending the World Championships say Edmonton is concerned about waiting for Babcock and not getting him. As a result, they are working on closing a deal with Todd McLellan. At this point, it’s as much up to the coach as it is to the Oilers, but at least one other team pursuing McLellan was hearing Saturday that a deal was close, if not done. Whatever the case, Edmonton is making it known they will close on him rather than wait to talk to Babcock. McLellan is a Babcock disciple. If it’s the system they love, McLellan can implement it. If it’s the temperament they love, well, McLellan isn’t Babcock, and that’s the point of demarcation between a very good coach and a great one. You can picture Babcock whipping the young core of the Oilers into something more than an unconfident collection of frustrated talent. You can see him working with Connor McDavid, helping to develop him into the kind of leader he had in Detroit. After the complete hash that was the San Jose Sharks’ locker room, can you picture the same with McLellan? He’s an outstanding coach. But Babcock is an outstanding coach with gravitas, a Stanley Cup and Olympic gold. There is a difference, and the difference will cost you in dollars and in patience as Babcock shops his wares. So it’s understandable the Oilers want to move on McLellan instead, unless this is some public pressure on Babcock. MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY