The Six Pack

As current NHL General Managers, and Bob Nicholson, gather in Boca Raton we are starting to get an idea of where the Oilers may be heading in their search for a new GM.

It was reported by TSN’s Darren Dreger on Monday that Nicholson has a list with close to 10 names on it. The list includes Keith Gretzky, Kelly McCrimmon, Sean Burke, Mike Futa, Mark Hunter and for some reason, Dave Nonis.

Here are a few thoughts on the six names Dreger confirmed are still in the mix.


Keith Gretzky did not even attend the GM meetings in Florida. Nicholson represented the Oilers instead with the sole purpose of narrowing down his list of candidates for a job that I’m not sure Gretzky has a good chance at getting, or wanting for that matter.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta posted this on Tuesday.

Now Pagnotta isn’t a big name in the “Insider” game but he does have a solid pulse on the beat and has broken a few pieces of news in the past.

Nothing against Keith, but if he ends up becoming the next GM of the Oilers what has the organization really accomplished?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


I tend to agree with something that TSN’s Frank Seravalli said on the smash hit Nielson Show on Tuesday morning. Kelly McCrimmon would be a perfect guy for the job in Seattle but may not have the experience required to take on a job like the one here in Edmonton. It’s a very valid point.

The only experience McCrimmon has in an NHL front office is helping build the expansion Golden Knights. He obviously did a very good job in doing so, and that’s important experience to have, but is it the right experience you need to be the next GM of the Oilers?

McCrimmon wouldn’t get to come to Edmonton and hold a bunch of teams over the fire to get sweetheart deals so they can keep other players in their system. He wouldn’t be starting with a cap hit of ZERO.

I’m not sitting here and saying he would be a bad hire I’m just pointing out that he might not be the best fit for the Oilers current situation. It’s not unlike Bob Nicholson when he was first hired by the Oilers. Nicholson had loads of experience in the hockey world but he had zero experience running an NHL organization. Like McCrimmon, lots of experience but not the right experience.


Like McCrimmon, Hunter had a lot of success in the Canadian Hockey League before joining an NHL club. He started as the director of player personnel for the Leafs and then shared the title of co-interim GM with Kyle Dubas prior to Lou Lamoriello taking over. The Leafs groomed the boy wonder to take over the main gig when Lou left and that has left Hunter hanging in the wind.

It may be an unpopular opinion right now but I think Hunter is better suited to be the Oilers next GM than McCrimmon.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


Mike Futa is the new Paul Fenton. Fenton’s name popped up in pretty much every single GM search until he landed the job he has now in Minnesota. Futa’s name has often been mentioned in the same breath as Fenton.

Futa, like McCrimmon and Hunter, put in his time in the CHL. He worked with Toronto, Oshawa and Owen Sound of the OHL before joining the Los Angeles Kings 11 years ago.

He spent five years as the Kings director of amateur scouting landing the likes of Drew Doughty (1st), Slava Voynov (2nd), Brayden Schenn (1st), Kyle Clifford (2nd), Jordan Nolan (7th), Nic Dowd (7th), Tyler Toffoli (2nd), Kevin Gravel (5th), Tanner Pearson (1st) and Colin Miller (5th ).

From 2014-2017 Futa was the Director of Player Personnel and V.P. of Hockey Ops for the Kings. When Rob Blake was named GM of the Kings Futa was handed the dual role of assistant GM in LA and GM of their AHL affiliate.


I had a chance to broadcast the Spengler Cup for TSN this past Christmas and Sean Burke was the co-gm of that team alongside Ron Francis. I really enjoyed chatting with Burke in Davos so I’ll quickly admit that I’m most certainly a little bias.

Burke spent close to a decade with the Coyotes as goaltending coach and assistant General Manager. He’s been a pro scout in the West for the Canadiens for the past three seasons while also playing a huge part of Hockey Canada’s management group.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


I have no idea why he would be on Nicholson’s list. He’s basically been doing odd jobs and assignments for the Ducks for the past four seasons. His existence on the list makes me completely doubt the entire list. I have no idea what’s going on here.


As far as these six candidates go, I think I’d probably rank them like this.

  1. Mark Hunter
  2. Mike Futa
  3. Kelly McCrimmon
  4. Keith Gretzky
  5. Sean Burke
  6. Dave Nonis


A few weeks back I was told the Oilers were hoping to at least have a chat with Bill Guerin in Pittsburgh. I’m not sure if that has happened and he’s been eliminated from contention or if they are just keeping it quiet.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • hagar

    Maybe everyone can take another run at it, i know i learn from my mistakes. Lowe as coach, Mact assistant with magic draft at gm. Then if that doesnt work lowe to gm and mact to coach, then if that doesnt work lowe to president of hockey operations and mact to gm, and if that doesnt work lowe to president of entertainment and mact to assistant gm.
    Almost sounds impossible any organization could do something like that doesnt it?

        • Rick Stroppel


          MacTavish was HC of the Edmonton Oilers for 8 years. The team missed the playoffs five times, went out in the first round two times. ONCE in 8 years the team went past the first round. They got lucky. Can you imagine any other coach in the NHL with such a crappy record with one team over such a long time?

          MacTavish never got another HC job in the NHL after the Oilers, not even close. Why? Because he wasn’t very smart, and intelligent hockey people knew this.

          BTW, do you think MacTavish’s record would make Connor McDavid happy? “Yeah man, stick with us…we might make the playoffs once in awhile…maybe one fluke run to the SC final in 8 years”. As Nicholson says, it’s the Oilers way, the Oilers culture. The culture of mediocrity, failure, and bragging for no good reason.

  • Billsbills

    I’m for Mark Hunter. He has done a great job with London and knows what it takes to draft and develop young players. He’s never had to manage a cap before so hopefully they will hire a great capologist that he can work with. I think his past also gives him a great deal of respect around the league.

  • Oiler Al

    I think Many of these canidates are calling to be taken off the list because they are saying” I don’t fit your culture” or “I don’t like wine”!

  • Spydyr

    The problem is not the GM nor the coach. They have hired and fired almost one a season. Until they replace who the GM reports too and who that person reports too not much will change.

    Sad but true.

    Life as an Oiler Fan.

    The Katz curse continues.

  • IceMan11

    Given the qualifications and past performances you mentioned, I would go with Futa as my #1 choice, and then Hunter #1a
    Someone who has already scouted and Drafted the high quality NHL players Futa has, certainly deserves huge consideration.
    As several hockey analysts have stated, this GM selection by the Oilers HAS to be a HOME RUN!

  • Kevwan

    I’m not going to pretend I know who they should hire. I’m just a fan.

    For what it’s worth Keith does deserve some credit for making the Gagner and Talbot trades. I don’t think he’ll be considered because then it doesn’t look like Bobby Nicks is doing his due diligence.

    Why does this organization always seem to leave key decisions to people with their own job on the line?

  • Oiler Al

    The guy who headed the debacle of the past three years is still there incharge of hiring a new GM.Like the much used saying ” The Fox is still looking after the hen house,even if the chickens seem to be missing.
    PS:POHO= Nicholson.[take that to the bank]

  • Derkus the circus

    I dont want to see anyone in the GM chair or coach positions next year that have been anywhere near this team in any capacity ever before. Mr.Katz please stop thinking with your fan hat on and treat this like a business. Youre not rich for no reason…wake up

  • What the

    Did any other season seat holder get an email today? Apparently the forensic audit identified that we want to be able to print our tickets at home 96 hours before puck drop and not just 48.

    How awesome is that?

    This is the Managements first response, now they’re hiring our next GM. Wow.

  • toprightcorner

    Not a fan of most of these. Futa is a no go. He has been interviewed and denied many times, there is a reason for that. Since becoming an AGM, he has learned how to flush a team down the toilet with Rob Blake.

    Burke is a great guy and goalie coach, but does not have the experience needed.

    McCrimmon and Hunter are good hockey minds, but you would need to hire a PoHO forsure if these two became GM.

    The fans would riot if the Oilers did an internal hire with Gretzky. they would be stupid to do that.

    Nonis is an idiot

  • RJ

    Nice hatchet job on McCrimmon.

    28 years as an executive in the WHL. Then he was part of a management team that flipped the script on what an expansion team was supposed to do. That gang of misfits was supposed to lose a lot, and instead made it to the finals.