The Next GM

They did it. The Edmonton Oilers fired President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli late Tuesday night following their loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

The heat had been on the organization to fire Chiarelli for quite some time now, and there hasn’t really been a known short-list of names to replace him. Fans just wanted him out and then they would go from there.

Well, it’s now time to ‘go from there’. Who should be the next GM of the Edmonton Oilers? Who should be tasked with taking this below average, top-heavy team and turning them into the Stanley Cup Contender they should be with Connor McDavid?

I’ll preface this by saying that I am not an Insider, and you should know that. I will not pretend to have any behind the scenes knowledge, this is simply a list of people working in hockey who have been talked about as future General Managers and who would make sense here in Edmonton. Let’s get started.

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There are three ways the Oilers could go about doing this:

HIRING FROM WITHIN: This would end with the fan base being even angrier than it currently is if you can believe that. They have a few former GM’s sitting in-house like Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish, but that can’t be the answer. It simply cannot. But it might. This could also mean Keith Gretzky taking over as General Manager, but to really bring back the fan base, the organization needs to start fresh with a new regime. Still, the possibility of them doing the ‘classic Oilers’ thing and promoting from within still exists.

GET A GOOD HOCKEY MAN: There are plenty of former GM’s who are currently without jobs but have connections to organizations like Hockey Canada, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but when someone gets the job based purely on connections and not merit, you should be concerned. I’m not saying that hiring someone with experience or who has worked with Hockey Canada is a bad thing, there are plenty of good candidates that could come from there. I just worry a little bit about someone like Dean Lombardi becoming the next GM because they “know how to win”. The Oilers need to avoid hiring the next Peter Chiarelli, and there are names out there who could be exactly that.

GET AHEAD OF THE CURVE: I’m not saying you need to go out and hire the next John Chayka or Kyle Dubas but the Oilers should be considering some names that are considered “up and comers” in the NHL world. Find a fresh name, someone who won’t follow old trends and make the same mistakes that Chiarelli did. That doesn’t mean go find someone inexperienced, but find someone who can be an impactful GM and knows the direction of the new NHL.

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The problem with going this route is that a lot of these names currently work for other organizations, so hiring them mid-season would require the Oilers to get permission from their current clubs before interviewing them. That could be a problem and could mean that it’s best to wait until after the season to fully begin the interview process.

With all of that being said, here are some names that I think could be in the running for the next GM of the Edmonton Oilers:

KEITH GRETZKY (EDM): Generally considered to be Peter Chiarelli’s right-hand man, Gretzky is considered to be a very good scout. He’s a big reason why the organization has slowly started to see some talent build up at the AHL level. Out of all the internal candidates that will be thrown around (Lowe, MacTavish), Gretzky is the only one who makes a shred of sense. I still think it’s unlikely.

STEVE YZERMAN (N/A): I had to put him in here because everyone will be asking, but I cannot see him coming to Edmonton. He left the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018 because he wanted to be closer to his family and just step away for a bit. I don’t think he’ll be willing to move to Edmonton less than a year after making that decision. Many believe he will be the next GM of the Detroit Red Wings.

KEN HOLLAND (DET): He has held the position of GM of the Detroit Red Wings for over 20 years, but I believe his time there may be coming to an end. If Steve Yzerman eventually takes over as GM in Detroit, then Holland may be out. He has obvious ties to Bob Nicholson and Hockey Canada as well. Expect to hear his name talked about a lot.

KELLY McCRIMMON (VGK): He’s currently the Assistant GM of the Vegas Golden Knights and he gets a lot of credit for how well they were built through the expansion draft. He has been linked to the new Seattle franchise as well.

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RON FRANCIS (Hockey Canada): He was fired from his role as President of Hockey Operations and General Manager of the Carolina Hurricanes last year because he didn’t see eye-to-eye with Owner Tom Dundon. He made some bad moves in Carolina (Scott Darling) and some great moves (Teuvo Teravainen). He recently co-general managed Canada’s Spengler Cup team with Sean Burke, so that gives him the Hockey Canada connection.

SEAN BURKE (Hockey Canada): He’s spent time with both the Arizona Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens on the scouting/development side of things. He’s considered a bright, young, up and coming mind in the hockey world. He built the 2018 Canadian Men’s Olympic team and also teamed up with Ron Francis to help build this year’s Spengler Cup team.

MARK HUNTER (London Knights): He’s currently the GM of the London Knights of the OHL, but there was a time that many believed he would be the next GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs. They went with Kyle Dubas instead and Hunter left the organization. I have no doubts he will be a GM of an NHL franchise one day.

BILL ZITO (CBJ): He started his hockey management career as an agent and then moved into the management side of things. He currently serves as an assistant GM in Columbus and also oversees their AHL affiliate. He’s one of the names on this list that has seemingly been linked to every open GM job over the past two years. Expect that to happen again with the Oilers job.

TOM FITZGERALD (NJD): He won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins as Director of Player Management and was eventually named their assistant GM. In 2017, he left the Penguins to become the assistant GM in New Jersey, where he is still currently employed.

MIKE FUTA (LAK): Since being named assistant GM of the LA Kings back in 2017, Futa has been linked to pretty much every GM job. Like Paul Fenton, who got his first GM gig with the Wild in 2018, it’s only a matter of time before Futa gets his chance to run a team. He has a strong player personnel background.

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LAURENCE GILLMAN (TOR): Currently an executive with the Leafs, he’s previously spent time with the Vancouver Canucks as their assistant GM. Before that, he spent 13 years with the Winnipeg Jets/Arizona Coyotes franchise serving as their assistant GM for a time and also as GM of their AHL affiliate.

RON HEXTALL (PHI): He lost his job as GM of the Flyers earlier this year for “philosophical differences” Basically, he was too patient. You should hear his name mentioned a lot over the next few months. Not sure if he is a perfect fit here in Edmonton though.

DEAN LOMBARDI (PHI): Built a two-time Stanley Cup winner in LA, but I think his days as an NHL GM are over. It might be enticing to hire a guy like Lombardi who has done it before and won, but that’s exactly what they did with Chiarelli. I fear Lombardi would just be Chiarelli 2.0.

DAVE NONIS (ANA): He’s worked in some tough markets, serving as GM of both the Canucks and Leafs in the past. He could handle the pressures of being a GM in a Canadian city, but I don’t think he’s the right guy to build a team in the new NHL. He would be a “good hockey man” hiring.

BRIAN BURKE (Sportsnet): Nope, not a chance. He would be an awful hiring. He’s stuck in his ways and is obsessed with ‘heavy hockey’ and doing things his own way. The NHL is getting faster and more analytics-based. That’s what works. Burke wouldn’t work. I hate that I even had to put him on this list.

That’s 15 names, and I know I probably missed some. Either way, we are in for a very entertaining few months around Oilersnation.

  • The older I get, the better I was...

    Careful Tyler. Didn’t “but the Oilers should be considering some names that are considered “up and comers” in the NHL world. Find a fresh name, someone who won’t follow old trends and make the same mistakes that (xxxx) did.” get us Dallas Eakins?

    The Oilers next move in this area will send clear signals for the future. PLEASE MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION!

    • Danger Pay

      After careful consideration, I have decided to step away from hockey for a little while. I’ll probably stop by San Jose have a chat with Todd, then a quick stop in Bean town to reminisce with the boys about 2011. From there I’ll be sailing off into the sunset never to be seen again.
      Thank you Oilers fans, we’ll always have the 16/17 playoff run.

      • Peter Chairelli

        Crap, I forgot to login as Chairelli. I am going to miss posting comments with the Chairelli account.
        With that said, I look forward to the next puppet Katz, Lowe, Mac T and Howson bring in to sing and dance in front of the cameras.
        Let the rebuild begin bc man in 2 to 3 years this Oilers team is going to be something special.

  • Soccer Steve


    A good man like Todd was sacrificed. Chiarelli was finally jettisoned. Yet the men who hired these two failures – what else could they be? – are still here. The men who are the architects of 13 years of losing are still here. The men who treat their fan base like an easy slam dunk are still here. The men who are too pathetic to go down with the ship are constantly jumping on the only lifeboat while the rest of the crew drowns.

    Until these characters are gone, nothing will change. This was proven in the final weeks leading to Pete’s firing; the clown car is still full, they’ve just kicked one passenger out.

    That enough metaphors for everyone?

      • HockeyRooster

        Agreed about Manning and the ‘stamper’-send them somewhere together! I rarely focus on one player but last night every time a Dman was beat or a there was a D zone turn over, I saw #26. He’s terrible and he’s ours for another year. At least we didn’t trade scoring depth to get him…oh wait…

    • ricardo2000

      Let the firing process continue until it reaches the top. I do mean Darryl Katz. Just because he got a billion dollar business gifted to him by the corrupt Tories (UCP) doesn’t make him an astute businessman. Putting his son in the spotlight doesn’t make him a leader. Hanging around with the old Oilers doesn’t make him a hockey executive. His choices for coach and GM over the years have proven this decisively.
      His incompetence won’t be obvious to Edmontonians until McD, Draisiatl and the rest demand trades to competently run teams.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Kelly McCrimmon did some great work with getting the team assembled in Vegas, I would put him and Hunter on the list. I like Holland if he was 20 yeas younger he’d be a great candidate, but does he really still want to be in the game? He’s getting up there in years and the cupboard in Detroit isnt what it used to be

    Whoever comes here better be a miracle worker and able to get some value in trades and know how to steal a deal, and they need to have complete insulation on hockey decisions from Lowe and MacT or it wont work, dont think Chia didnt have friendly advice guiding him along from those two.

    Whoever comes in is going to have a hell of a mess to clean up, and they better be a far better judge of talent and know how to manage a cap, because Chia sure didnt

  • Strottie

    Anyone associated with HC should be off the table. Look at the track record of the junior teams as a prime example: the Spengler, Olympic, and WC teams were carried by bonafide talent. Consistently leaving off guys like Trey Fix-Wolansky for the U20 team and not being able to medal year in and year out as the rest of the competition improves is glaring.

    Holland has run the Wings into the ground, much like Lombardi did with the Kings. Neither should be considered. Nonis was booted out of Toronto for years of mediocrity. Yzerman is going to the Wings or he’s staying with family. Futa and Fitzgerald don’t inspire much confidence with how LAK and NJD going. I’m skeptical of Hunter’s drafting ability since nothing he’s done on his own has translated to NHL success.

    Hextal’s patience is a virtue. Zito seems interesting.

    Why not pry someone out of the USA hockey program considering how consistent their program turns out quality players and medal-winning teams since 2010? Does it have to be a HC connection because of Nicholson or the geographic location of the city?

      • Strottie

        Marner was the consensus #4; a robot scripted to draft off the Bobby Mac list would have picked Marner.

        The only thing Hunter and his staff did solo was the Nylander draft, and reviewing what Toronto got from that draft suggests he has similar blind spots as the majority of GMs out there. If you consider his work WITH Dubas, the only thing they’ve found beyond the 1st Round thus far has been Dermott. Everything else hasn’t been shown to be NHL worthy yet.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Katz ought to be taking the Oiles mangement and shaking them up like an Etch A Sketch and starting the whole thing over fom scratch… lots of house cleaning to do yet start with Lowe MacT Howson and Schwartz and lets go from there

    And someone please explain to me how the Oiler Goalie Coach Dustin Schwartz still has a job? The guy should have been gone after last season! Are the Oilers waiting to see if the goaltending gets any worse before they fire him?

  • vetinari

    The Oilers are easily 6 months late with this firing. The only good trades I see from Chiarelli’s time… trading for Maroon using spare parts and that’s about it. I will credit him with improving the farm team and getting some depth from the college ranks but that was a low bar to raise given how bad drafting and development was for the Oilers during the Howson/MacT years. Almost all Chiarelli trades have set us back in some way and almost all of his signings were overpays leaving us in cap hell and for added measure, his NMC’s handcuffs his successor on most of the main offenders (Lucic). The new GM will need two-three years just to clear out the bad contracts or let buyouts come off the books. Not good. This decision needs to get it right… and I do not have confidence that Katz can pull it off with his current advisors. In fact, I would be ecstatic to learn that Katz decided to sell the team and concentrate on his movie business…

    • Justino

      Agreed, the time to fire Chiarelli was the end of last season. Between then and now he’s done so much more damage that it’ll take atleast 3 years to ice a cup contender team. We may squeak into the playoffs once in the next couple years but it’ll all be on the back of McDavid.

  • Jeff Petry

    I like Gretzky but the optics would be terrible. So, I’m hopeful for Hunter or Zito. Just somebody without connections to the boys on the bus and has new ideas for the new NHL

  • Wesley41

    I want someone without any ties to anyone currently in the organization,but does a new fresh face have the clout to tell Katz he can’t take this job with all his buddies still here”hands off of course”

  • RyanCoke

    Why are you talking down on Dean Lombardi? I mean most other candidates you gave pros and cons but 2 times you mention Dean Lombardi and say he would be Chiarelli 2.0. He was considered the best GM in the league not too long ago. He fleeced teams in trades multiple times. Sure he made a few bad signings in the end but overall he did a fantastic job with LA.

  • Beut

    Whoever it is better not try and take short cuts by trading away more assets for a quick fix. That’s what got us in this mess. Draft and develop. Chiarelli set us back at least three years and we’ll never be able the get back what he gave away. But it’s still possible to build again with patience and astute management.

  • Goaltender Interference

    Hell – I wouldn’t mind any of the names on this list with the exception of Brian Burke. Who of course would be soooo bad that it’s almost a guarantee that he’s eiTher number one or number two on Bob Nicholson’s list of options.

    Speaking of Bob – Chiarelli was only the start. Might as well keep that office cleaner busy and have him or her clean out Bob’s office too. Then she can keep going with Lowe’s and MacT’s too…

    • It would be hilarious to hire Burke for the sole purpose of firing Lowe and his unqualified idiot buddies. Probably be an “I told you this when you offer sheeted Penner” . 1 round of drinks at Rogers should cover that expense. Did not mind the offer sheet, but have some class (Dont know why I would expect that) and give the other GM a heads up, you know maybe work out a trade or something for the player you targeted. You know, how most people with class and a clue operate. Charlie Sheen knows more about winning than that pompous as*hat. He could also flush Keegan from the farm team , just to be safe. If Daddy was not in charge, he would be in the ECHL or retired by now.

  • Oilers_1978

    whoever it is…oilers is screwed for a long long time…

    end of the day..katz will put either of wayne, lowe or macT…and the story will keep circling..

  • Bob Stauffer interviewed Ken Holland (DET) yesterday and gave him praises over his patience with player development, then rattled off all their skilled players (some who scored last night) who first spent 3-4 years in the AHL with Grand Rapids.

    Just think if Puljujarvi and Yamamoto played in the AHL for 3-4 years before being brought up how much better adjusted they would be. I’d mention other 1st rounders from 2015, but well, you know.

  • Ready to Win

    I don’t know what the right way to go about hiring a GM is, but all three methods that usually get talked about are covered by the Oilers last three GM hires and they each sucked in their own way.

  • Glencontrolurstik

    Kelly McKrimmon gets my pick. Building hockey teams is in that family’s DNA. I believe that he was the biggest reason for VGK’s success in putting that talent together.

    • IRONman

      Cap hell can be fixed. 2 years time. Seattle May take bad contracts hint hint. The Oilers still have McDavid and Leon and Nuge. Larsson and Klefbom with Bouchard, Jones ect. The team has talent. Young talent

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Whoa Nicholson just kind of laid down the law about what will happen with picks and prospects and how theyaen’t foing to give anything away if a deal makes no sense. So does this mean Lowe and MacT are having their noses stuck out of hockey ops?

    • Dream on.Nicholson should have been fired too. The year is over. Should have cleaned house, I dont think the fanbase even wants to hear their names mentioned anymore, let alone keeping them employed (In Hockey Ops), even though it is obvious it is a flat out lie that they are not. Like children, use one lie to cover another, and then tell so many they do not even know the truth any more.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      No, Bobby Nicks is just saying what every fan wants to hear right now…
      That might account for a few Season Tix renewals before the weekend?
      Blah, Blah, Blah,… He said nothing. They’ll all get togather at Predator Ridge over the next two weeks, consume cases of VQA & figure it all out. Gord help us?

  • Mark Lesser

    Everybody really hates Burke? He managed to draft both Sedins, and knew to put Pronger and Niedermayer together to win a Cup. Recent teams he has been affiliated with such as Calgary and Toronto are much improved, I realize he may not have had a huge role, but he may have had some role through hiring and input. He has been vocal about not rushing to do something rash and stupid like trading Puljujarvi.

  • Dapper Dan 3099

    Don’t kid yourself, no GM with any kind of pedigree will want to come here and attempt to clean up the catastrophe that Chia left behind with next to no cap space to work with….. on top of that, I’m absolutely convinced that some of the disaster trades/signings have fingerprints of Lowe, MacT or Howson on them too….but those guys can NEVER take any blame since all their crap is done behind curtains and someone else can always be made into a sacrificial lamb…. there is no way the Koskinen extension was just Chia, I just think they did it prior to canning Chia so that if (when) that signing also turns bad they can blame it on a guy no longer employed and to no ones surprise the OBC “had nothing to do with it”.
    So anyone in their right mind coming in from the outside has to consider being the new GM means: fixing this mess with no cap room, still having the OBC in your ear (but you take all the blame), and your reputation to get any future NHL employment depends on your success here…… so unless they do the unthinkable and actually remove the nimrods up top, to assure a new GM will not have to deal with them, its going to be more of the same circus in oil country

    • Glencontrolurstik

      To your point, did anyone watch Hometown Hockey a few weeks ago with McTavish as the guest? When asked about the state of the Oilers, he seemed oblivious to the condition of the team. And totally clueless that the fanbase knew any different. He was still saying the same old, “we ahave an exciting team, they have great chemistry, blah, blah, blah… I guess in his eyes, if the games are selling out, he is a hero in the eyes of his boss… It’s a really sad situation.

      • Dapper Dan 3099

        yup absolutely, its so blatantly obvious (despite what bob wants to tell us) these idiots still have their roots deep within how this franchise is run….. the incompetent decisions go well before Chia’s hiring, so its obvious that the problem is the excessive arrogance up top that still, despite the last 12 years, believe they know about “winning” and run a franchise……

        • Glencontrolurstik

          as I said, it’s a sad situation. And really we should all be really embarrassed to be so gullible as to even continue to follow this team.
          At times, I compare us all to a bunch of “Justin Beiber (or whoever) groupies”. Let’s all just suck it up & find another team & save face?
          There are plenty of great, well run NHL teams out there…

        • Glencontrolurstik

          Trainwreck, as I said above, the Oilers Management are oblivious, but you already know that.
          The ones I feel bad for are Hitchcock & McDavid… They know full well what’s going on (or not going on) and they are the only ones that are thrown out to the sharks to be the spokesmen… One day, they are going to snap? And I wouldn’t blame them one bit.

  • camdog

    Bob “we believe” We , We, but the Old Boys aren’t part of decision making process. Who is “We”. Bob isn’t in charge of anything, just a public speaker for the team.

  • Sparky Blue

    Who would want to come to a team this bad. I see the Oilers are at least 6 proven NHL players away from being competitive let alone be winning playoff series. How can you get players when you have nothing another team would want and those few who are any good you don’t want to see go. As well there is minimal cap space to attract UFA’s and draft and develop is a very long term solution. Are the fans going to be happy if a Hunter type comes here and wants to trade McDavid or Drai?

  • camdog

    Who that’s good as GM is going to report to the Oilers executives known as “We” Nobody good wants to report to those guys, that’s why we got Tambelinni the first time.

  • oil.99.97.11

    Wow. Having just watched Nicholson’s presser, I think it’s pretty safe to say that this guy just doesn’t have a clue. Talk about instilling absolutely ZERO confidence in righting this sinking ship or moving forward. Is this what passes for leadership in Edmonton now? If there are any players in that dressing room that can say with a straight face that they believe in Bob Nicholson’s “vision” (whatever that is), I’d be absolutely shocked. Where’s Katz in all this? Grow a pair and can this clown. I’d have more faith in Craig McTavish than Bobo.

  • You just got LITT up!

    As I posted in the other article, the Oilers are screwed. I assume that McDavid will request a trade, I don’t think he’ll accept several years wasted on a rebuilding / bottom feeder team. It will take years to fix the mess Pete has made.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      He is getting paid “ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS” under contract to be an Oiler. In the eyes of Bob, Katz & the rest of the Oiler Management that doesn’t necessarily mean playing hockey it seems. It means, “Once an Oiler, Always an Oiler”… I guess McDavid is upholding his contract? The management is happy, the seats are filled & everyone in the hockey world is talking about them…