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?
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?
- 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.