Oilers face a tough timeline

The recent comments by Bob Nicholson have thrust the Oilers back into the national media spotlight and deservedly so. I don’t think those comments were the worst thing in the world but given how incredibly incompetent the Oilers have been over the past decade, they don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Nicholsons doesn’t deserve a break either. Whenever he speaks, it seems like there’s always a headline that comes from it for the wrong reasons. The “something in the water” or “we miss Matt Hendricks” comments are other prime examples.

This was just another moment that showed how far away the Oilers are. We know that the team on the ice is at least two or three pieces away from being a competitive team but the real problem facing the organization right now is that they’re going to be without two or three crucial off ice pieces and as of right now, many are doubting if the man in charge of the search to fill at least one of those open positions and rightfully so.

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I’m not here to debate whether or not Nicholson is the right guy to be conducting interviews and making decisions, I think it’s a question nobody really knows the answer to quite yet. Regardless of how you feel about the man handling the task, you can’t argue that the timeline facing the Oilers organization is an incredibly tight one

It’s common knowledge that they need a General Manager and a President of Hockey Operations. Those are the two big ones but I also expect they will need a new Head Coach for the 2019-20 season. Despite what Ken Hitchcock has said recently and the reports of him having a three-year deal, I just don’t see him coming back in the same role next year. They need to turn the page and start fresh. A new coach is a big part of that in my opinion and I expect the current group believes that as well.

At the same time, it really doesn’t matter what the current regime thinks. Bob Nicholson has been on record as saying that the teams next GM will get to select the next bench boss. If we consider the reports that have been coming out this weekend, we won’t have a new GM until a new POHO is named.

I’m not sure what kind of candidates are out there for a POHO, but you’d think the organization will wait until at least the end of the regular season to see if someone like Ken Holland becomes available.

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Once that hire is made, the organization can slowly start focusing more on the GM hunt. That hire creates a little bit of a bigger problem for me. If you want to interview every single eligible candidate, you will likely need to wait until the end of the NHL playoffs. Some of the best candidates could be on Stanley Cup contenders like Tampa Bay or Vegas.

If that’s the case, then they wouldn’t be interviewing those candidates until early June. Last year the Cup was handed out on June 7th and that series only went five games. This year’s NHL Draft will be held on June 21 in Vancouver. If the Oilers want to interview every possible candidate, which they should, they might only have a two-week window to get that done ahead of the draft.

Of course, the organization has said they believe in Keith Gretzky and have faith in him to steer the ship for the time being, but would you allow him to make a major more at the draft? I doubt it. Another possibility is that they hire a POHO who takes over could step in as the acting GM in the short term until a full-time hire is made.

This upcoming offseason is crucial and the timeline for the Oilers to get this next GM hire right is not a particularly good one.

As I said earlier, once the new POHO and GM are put in place, they’ll also have to grab a new coach which Nicholson has said is imperative when it comes to recruiting new free agents. I agree with that. If you’re going to convince someone to make a commitment to Edmonton, you need to be able to sell them on a plan and let them know what their role is. That involves having a Head Coach firmly in place.

So now the timeline involves finding a POHO and then finding a GM by the draft, which you might only have two weeks to do, and then allowing that GM to do his due diligence in hiring a new coach before the free agency negotiation period opens up, which will happen less than a week after the draft. That doesn’t seem like a realistic timeline.

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This summer is wildly important, some could argue it’s the most important in franchise history. The fans want change and while they’ll get that when it comes to the front office, the timeline to do so makes me worry that this offseason could be a rather uneventful one when it comes to player movement. They simply don’t have the time to make a major splash.

      • Towers-of-dub

        haven’t we realized by now that signing UFA’s rarely works out? there was a time when Edmonton couldn’t afford them, then they didn’t want to come here, and now they come here and don’t produce. I liked it when Edmonton couldn’t afford UFA, so the Bobby Holiks of the world signed in NYR for $9MM/yr. Bring in guys that have something to play for.

    • Denz

      How do you propose they afford said player? You would need $4-6M is cap space we don’t have, not that simple….

      Who do you trade/buyout to make room? Lucic? No one would take him without significant salary retained. Russell? Maybe, likely have to retain as well and not sure creating a gap on the backend unless you can fill it is the best option. Sekera? Same thing. Some combination of Manning, Kassian, Brodziak, Gagner? If, and that’s a big if, you could trade some of them you might be able to open enough space but you’d still have the fill gaps with $750-$1M player(s).

      This mess isn’t going to get fixed anytime soon….

      • Nellzo

        I agree. Bottom line is they are stuck with the Lucic contract until the expansion draft. There’s probably going to be another round of amnesty buyouts at that time. That means another season with him on the roster.
        Sekera has 2 more yrs at 5.5 and Russell has 2 yrs at 4. Both with some sort of no movement clause. Until those 3 contracts are moved out it’s a forced holding pattern of draft and develop. Not the worst thing for this team.

        • macinmillwoods

          Also agree with this. 2 years to clean everything up; maybe only 1 more year out of playoffs if they hire a smart GM. If you can trade Lucic with a draft pick that’s not this year’s first or with a prospect where we have depth and keep maximum 2 million in salary than go for it. Otherwise might have to wait for expansion draft. Buyout is out of the question. Can you image Lucic being on the payroll longer than McDavid? Russell and Sekera also have modified no trade clause after this year. If Russell can be traded this year and retain no more than a million, I would rather do that then buyout. Same with Sekera but I would rather keep him for 1 more year to help with Jones, Bear, etc. Need to start 2021 with as close to a clean slate as possible. By that time some of the current prospects should be ready to make significant impact.

  • who

    I’m not sure adding a new GM 2 or 3 weeks before the draft is really all that important. Do you really want the new GM making a blockbuster deal on draft day? Isn’t that exactly what happened to Chia in the Reinhardt deal?
    Probably better off leaving KG in charge until a new GM has time to settle in.

  • Spydyr

    The Oilers will sell hope this summer and many tier one fans will fall for it again. Not as many as years past as some are finally seeing the truth. The organization is a laughing stock.

    “There’s a sucker born every minute.”
    ― P.T. Barnum

  • Oiler Al

    Great and important write.Very critical to the success of the team.Hopefully ,at least, they have a Hockey Ops guy, not named Nicholson in place by draft day to give the intrem GM some guidance.[that’s if no GM is in place by then]

  • Oilerz4life

    Katz is responsible for the gm hire and he has his puppet in place. I think Pinocchio would be my own personal choice for Oiler gm guy job thing. At least you can tell when he’s lying.

  • Oilerz4life

    Time for the Oilers to stand pat:

    1. Put K. Gretz in drafting.
    2. Try to offload some of Chia’s bad contracts.


    Any drastic moves by the shiny new gm is just going to bury the Oilers even deeper.

    *dump Koskinen, build from the net out.

      • Oilerz4life

        No I know, that’s why I’m saying, put K. Gretz into the draft and draft and develop. Each and every move the the Oilers make they either lose the trade or send a prospect out of town for nothing. Each and every move the Oilers make literally leaves them one step further behind.

        The Oilers finally have a good system. It’s time to build on that. I know patience is not a word we Oilers fans like to hear, but sending RNH or Nurse out of town is going to set this team even further back.

        There is no easy fix for the Oilers and some big name gm coming into town shaking things up is only going to make things worse. I honestly see the only role of a new gm coming into town as trying to clean up some of Chia’s mess and offload his stupid contracts, that’s it.

        We may be a couple years out now. Prospects coming up into 3rd or 4th line roles will tell the story, we don’t know, but some gm or stupid trade isn’t going to fix the Oilers.

        If I were Katz my only rule would be, don’t lay a hand on our center depth and for god sakes find us a goalie, that’s it. Go forth and clean Chiarelli’s, mess that is all.

  • Heschultzhescores

    You can all be sure BN is not making any decisions. The Oiier way is to have a figurehead so Lowe, Gretz and McT can make the decisions without blame.

  • 0W-20

    This debacle that is the Edmonton Oilers has been roughly 13 years in the making. It is short-sighted and unrealistic to impose an arbitrary summer deadline to hire the new management that we hope will fire everyone currently involved in hockey ops and start over, and then ice a competent, balanced team. If anything, write an article about how we should be looking to a 12-18 month timeline when several of the dead weight veterans can be excised from the roster and put a plan in place to capitalize on that future. K. Gretzky can handle this draft, he’s shown enough capability in that area. Hopefully, a new POHO/GM would NOT make several splashly trades upon their arrival as that has only made things worse (Exhibit A & B: Hall, Taylor and Reinhart, Griffin). Come in, take 6 months to evaluate from the inside, and be ready for the 2019-2020 trade deadline and 2020 draft.

    Rome wasn’t built in a day and Edmonton has been burning for over a decade. There is no quick fix here – it’s going to be a major construction effort to assemble the right personnel to make smart decisions – basically opposite everything that EDM has done since Katz bought the team.

    • Ty Guy

      i dont think sneaking in to the playoffs as the 8th seed constitutes a successful season. that said, when was the last time the oilers were comfortably in the playoff picture? this drought (to me) is far longer than 13 seasons…..closer to 30 years if you factor the bumble in to 8th as a fail. just one year i would like to see dominance and a locked in playoff spot before the last 3 games of the season.

  • Napoleon

    We are stuck until the expansion draft, at which point Lucic will be bought out, until then lets hope Benson and Jones continue to grow and we can inject those ELC into the line up

  • madjam

    I’d like Ralph Kreuger to come back and take over Nicholson”s job and initiate a team to make us prevalent again . I remember Ralph talking about direction of things before season started and realized how much smarter he was than everyone else . I thought Lowe , MacTavish and rest better get rid of him before he takes over the team and their jobs . Surprise at the lack of help they gave him near seasons end that unfortunate season , but was not surprised they got rid of him to protect their jobs . I see he has done well in upper management in English soccer . Without Kreuger , we will remain a loser . Well that’s my fantasy for the day .

  • Total Points

    The timeline should not be a concern. It would be better to pass on any trades at the draft and only sign low caliber Free Agents.

    The changes will occur later this summer and into next year when hopefully a new POHO and GM take over.

    We will more or less have the same group that are currently under contract going into next season.

    The last thing that should happen is the Oilers make changes for the sake of making changes as happened in the past. Hall, Eberle, Strome, Manning, Petro, Koskinin, etc

    If the OBC stay involved it will not matter who they hire or when

  • Randaman

    BM, you better hope that chimp doesn’t have a good lawyer. They could sue for defamation of character by having Nicholson’s name there (Implying). Not fair to the chimp at all. LOL

  • SailorD81

    Why not keep Hitch around for another season? As someone pointed out the other day there are numerous guys having career years and that has to mean something. I doubt Scotty Bowman in his prime could do any better with this team in front of him. That would also take a major hurdle off the plate for the incoming GM for at least one more season.

  • RJ

    Maybe I’m showing my age but I remember the Fall for Hall. Way back then some of us were saying draft and develop. Hall was the exception because he’d won back to back Memorial Cups. Then from there every first rounder had to play in draft+1.
    It didn’t go well.

    The real test in the draft and develop mantra is staring the Oilers in the face.

    Bouchard got sent back this year. Based on the lineup, with Larsson being the only decent RHD, hes already the second best RHD in the organization. If it’s best players make the team, then he’s an Oiler in Game 1 next season. If it’s about development, he’s in the AHL all season in draft+2, coming up for the occasional cup of coffee & draft +3 is his NHL rookie season.

    Which is it going to be? Because Oilers…he’s an Oiler next season.

  • Gravis82

    Look. Just draft whoever bob Mackenzie says and move on. Getting the gm right is more important. BPA and be done with it. Trade dead weight for cap space in lopsided deals