Keith Gretzky has become a very polarizing candidate as the Oilers continue to search for their next General Manager.
We have seen a few members of the local media throw their support behind Gretzky as a candidate while members of the Oilers fan base appear to be leaning the opposite way.
I’m going to attempt to take an unbiased look at what Gretzky may, or may not, bring to the Oilers if he does, in fact, get the job.
The most impressive feather in Gretzky’s cap is what he’s been able to accomplish from a scouting perspective since joining the Oilers in 2016.
The team’s prospect pool from the past two drafts appears to be trending in the right direction. Oilers 2017 3rd rounder Dmitri Samorukov looks like he has what’s required to take a good run at an NHL career. Kirill Maksimov is now an elite scorer at the junior level and 7th round pick Phillip Kemp represented the USA at the World Juniors. Yamamoto is right where he belongs and I hope the organization doesn’t rush him.
The early returns on 2018 selections Evan Bouchard and Ryan McLeod look promising as well.
Gretzky hasn’t been overly active as interim GM but he did manage to flip Ryan Spooner for a player that fills a role for the team both on and off the ice. I’m not going to pump his tires for the Talbot deal but I certainly won’t call it a loss either. He moved the salary required to activate Sekera. I still would have preferred a pick for Talbot but it’s not the end of the world.
Many people, myself included, have looked to the Bruins lacklustre 2015 draft as a black mark on Gretzky. In that draft, the Bruins had the 13th, 14th, and 15th overall picks and came away with Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk, and Zachary Senyshyn.
In this situation, it would be easy to blame the Director of Scouting for all of those picks but in the end, it was Don Sweeney in charge of pulling the trigger. We always point to the fact they missed on Matt Barzal but the real issue here is as an organization they missed on the next ten picks in the draft. The B’s picked Zboril and Senyshyn 13th and 15th respectively while the following ten picks, in order, were Barzal, Kyle Connor, Thomas Chabot, Evgeny Svechnikov, Joel Eriksson Ek, Colin White, Ilya Samsonov, Brock Boeser, Travis Konecny, and Jack Roslovic.
If you played any role in the Bruins execution of those three consecutive picks you should probably be taking some heat. They did land Brandon Carlo in the 2nd round; which most certainly helped ease the pain.
As a fan do you care as much about Gretzky’s history in Boston when he has done a solid job in the same role with the Oilers?
The ugly thing about hiring Keith Gretzky would be explaining to the fans how anything is going to be different. I understand that Gretzky isn’t a member of the old boys club but if things don’t go well they would open themselves up for some serious criticism.
I’m not positive an organization in desperate need of improving their standing with the fan base can afford to hire Peter Chiarelli’s right-hand man who just also happens to be Wayne Gretzky’s brother.
I’m not saying it’s fair, I’m just pointing out that the optics of a Gretzky hiring may not be the easiest thing to spin.
The one aspect of Gretzky’s involvement as a candidate that would give me hesitation is the fact that his name never pops up anywhere else.
The Sabres, Flyers, and Wild have all recently hired new general managers and not once was Gretzky’s name mentioned.
So is Gretzky a candidate simply because he’s been here for a couple of years or does he rank among the best available men to do the job? That is the most important question that needs to be asked.
Bob Nicholson hasn’t been tasked with hiring the best guy already working within the organization he’s been tasked with hiring the man who will give the organization the best opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. If Gretzky fits the bill that’s fine but he can’t be the answer just because it’s easy.