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.
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.
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.
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.