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WWYDW: The next general manager

Apparently, the Oilers are in the third phase of their general manager search, which consisted of asking opponents around the league who they thought would be viable candidates for the gig. A few weeks from now, the Oilers will enter the fourth phase of their search, which will be interviewing the finalists they’ve selected as potential suitors for the position.

According to Darren Dreger, Bob Nicholson currently has a list with six names on it, but only six of those names are known. Those names are Keith Gretzky, Kelly McCrimmon, Mark Hunter, Mike Futa, Sean Burke, and Dave Nonis. Those are a lot of the names we expected to see on the list, but a handful of good candidates haven’t been listed. As I said above, though, there are a few mystery names out there we aren’t yet aware of.

That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday question. Who do you want the Oilers to hire as their general manager? Are you happy with the names on the list? Are you hoping its somebody with some experience like Ron Hextall? Or do you want to see a new-age hire with different ideas?

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The names we know

Dusty Nielson talked about this earlier today, but I’ll reiterate…

  • Keith Gretzky: Edmonton’s current interim general manager has made some nice small moves to begin cleaning up Peter Chiarelli’s mess. There’s some talk that he isn’t actually in the running for the job, but you never know.
  • Kelly McCrimmon: The current assistant general manager in Vegas (who spent his entire career otherwise running the Brandon Wheat Kings) is poised to take control of his own NHL club given the incredible success of the Golden Knights right out of the gate.
  • Mark Hunter: A finalist for the general manager gig in Toronto last summer, Mark Hunter is back to managing the Loden Knights full-time after four years in the Maple Leafs organization. Hunter has turned the Knights into an NHL-calibre operation over the past few decades.
  • Mike Futa: Since Paul Fenton (the former assistant GM in Nashville) stepped into Minnesota’s open general manager role, Mike Futa has become the new next guy in line. This is because Futa’s fingerprints are all over the excellent L.A. Kings teams from the early 2010s.
  • Sean Burke: After retiring, Sean Burke stepped into a gig as the Arizona Coyotes’ DIrector of Player Development. He worked his way up to assistant GM but is now spending most of his time working with Hockey Canada.
  • Dave Nonis: The only guy on the list with actual NHL general manager experience, Dave Nonis has been working with the Anaheim Ducks since getting booted from the Leafs organization. Nonis has been the general manager of both the Leafs and Vancouver Canucks.

Other names out there

As our old pal Jonathan Willis pointed out, these candidates mostly come from Bob Nicholson’s expected fishing hole of Hockey Canada. What other names could the Oilers be looking at? Also, which names would we want them to be considering?

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  • Steve Yzerman: This is likely a pipedream, but Yzerman stepped down from his role as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning before the season. Yzerman’s work in Tampa has been incredible as he built this Lightning squad that is likely the best team of the salary cap era.
  • Ron Francis: Yet another NHL legend with experience in the GM chair, the Carolina Hurricanes that Francis built are now enjoying a successful season. Francis was let go prior to the season but he has a history fo leading an organization through a patient rebuild.
  • Ron Hextall: The Flyers gave Hextall the axe this year as the team he built failed to take a step forward. Like Francis, Hextall was criticized for being too patient.
  • Bill Guerin: Would this count as an Old Boys Club hire if he wasn’t a part of an 80s team? Billy Guerin has worked his way up the Penguins organization since retiring and appears poised to get his own gig as an NHL general manager soon.
  • Brandon Pridham: Leading off the section of new-age, more unconventional hires is Brandon Pridham, the current assistant GM in Toronto. Gilman’s role with the Leafs is to manage the salary cap, something he knows very well as he helped draft the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. Who better to help the Oilers work out of cap hell?
  • Bill Zito: A Yale man because our Harvard man struggled so much, Bill Zito’s resume includes putting together a deep Blue Jackets farm team and overseeing a Calder Cup Championship in the AHL, much like Kyle Dubas had in Toronto.
  • Mike Gillis: Since getting fired from the general manager gig in Vancouver, the former player, player agent, and executive has been running a team in the Swiss Elite League. He came close to winning it all with the Canucks.

What say you, Nation? Who do you think the Oilers should hire to steer the ship? In my opinion, the Oilers need somebody who is willing to be patient as the team navigates their way out of salary cap hell. I think it would also be prudent for the organization to look into a more unique, new-age pool of candidates with different philosophies from the ones they have now that clearly aren’t working.


  • DannyGallivan

    Leave no stone unturned. Multiple levels of interviews. This is arguably the most important position in the organization in respect of putting together a competitive team. They have not done this properly in the past and the results speak for themselves.

  • That's My Point

    Lightning have 51 wins and 18 losses this year with Yzerman as GM from 2010-2018.(and still have 15 games left to win even more)
    Oilers won 47 games one season since 1987; the ONLY time they won MORE than 41 games since 1987.
    Yeah, Katz doesn’t want to get Yzerman, winning is over-rated just ask Lowe, who knows a “thing about LOSING”.

  • What about someone like Quenneville? I know it’s a long shot, especially for GM, but hear me out. He obviously has coaching chops, which would be a good backup plan on a temporary basis if the team struggles to find a full-time coach or, as is always a possibility, they give said coach the axe after a lackluster start. He clashed with Bowman in Chicago over player moves (like Panarin for Saad) so he obviously knows what sort of team he’d like to assemble. Maybe Coach Q is ready for the front office.

  • TKB2677

    I like the fact that the Oilers are actually doing a large search for a GM. If you think about that hasn’t really happened for a very long time. KLowe took over after Sather who if you think about, KLowe was probably our best GM in a long time. The KLowe moved up so they brought in Tambellini for a bit so there was a bit of a search. They brought in Mac T so not much of a search. They did no search for Chia, just jumped on him.

    When it comes to the names. I am not advocating for him to get the job because I don’t have a clue if he can do it or not but I do not see them hiring Gretzky. Even if it came out that he was hands down the best guy available, Oilers fans wouldn’t accept it strictly because of the last name.

  • toprightcorner

    First thing the Oilers need to do is make sure they hire a PoHO and a GM. There is too big of a mess for a GM to do everything. Hire a PoHO with tons of experience to fix the behind the curtain stuff like analytics and sports science. Then you can get more of a “new-age” GM that will focus on the team on the ice and scouting.

    For PoHO, I like Gillis. He is an out of the box thinker and when he was with a very successful Vancouver team, he was keen on sports science and analytics, two things that are a must in todays NHL.

    For head coach, with a PoHO sharing the workload, I like Zito, Guerin and McCrimmon. They all have been working with successful franchises and some top notch GM’s. A darkhorse that I would be excited about is Gilman from Toronto. He has been heavily involved with the TOR turn around and is well versed in analytics.

  • toprightcorner

    The best person for the job, but someone who is not even on the radar, would be the perfect fit of brains, personality and successful experience in team construction.

    Ralph Krueger. He is a genius when it comes to building a team. As a hockey man, he became chairman of football team in the Premeir league, Soth Hampton in England. You have to be a pretty special leader for England to have you run their football team. He has also done fantastic in building hockey programs, coached Team Europe in the World Cup of Hockey and was a part of Team Canada at the 2014 Olympics He is also on the Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership.

    This is the type of leader the Oilers need and I think is is the best person to turn the Oilers around.

    Would he ever consider coming back to the Oilers? I doubt it, but I would tell him his first act of GM was to fire MacTavish over Skype.

  • Friggin Dreger on Neilson this morning was touting Nonis to no end, even being POHO. No no no no.

    Whomever gets it, he needs to seriously look at amateur and pro scouting, as well as development. The better teams have drafted and developed players long term in their system which creates loyalty, not searching for scraps in bad trades like Chiarelli did at the end of his tenure to try and correct the previous.

    I think Mark Hunter would be a good fit.

  • Billsbills

    Hextall? Really?? If you want to hire someone who you believe will be successful, then hire someone with a history of success.

    For me that is Hunter. Yzerman would be choice one but I think that is extremely unlikely.

  • Derzie

    In what world would your competitors give you good intel on GM prospects? In what world would the same people doing the same thing, in their 13th year, be expected to do the right thing for a change. It is all smoke and mirrors based on the fuel that powers them: hope.
    OBC will mess this up royally. Bank on it.