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GM SEARCH: Pros and Cons

As Bob Nicholson continues one of the longest GM searches in the NHL history I decided to take a look at the pros and cons for a manager in the mix for the Oilers gig.

THE PROS:

Jan 14, 2019; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Buffalo Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) makes a save on Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Connor McDavid

Duh! The Oilers only have ONE thing that other teams don’t, but it’s a big one. If you are starting a franchise in the NHL today Connor McDavid is the piece you want and the new GM would be starting with him in the fold. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that for some candidates McDavid may be the only reason they’d consider joining the Oilers and I wouldn’t blame them for thinking that way.

Leon Draisaitl

Leon Draisaitl proved this season that he has super-star offensive abilities. If McDavid were the first pick in a franchise draft right now Draisaitl wouldn’t be that far behind, probably in the top 10. McDavid would be the first pick and Nathan MacKinnon would be the second, after those two guys it most certainly opens up a bit.

I’d have Draisaitl in a group of forwards with Matthews, Marner, Barkov, Eichel, and Pettersson as younger players I’d be happy to build a team around. The Kucherov and Scheifele types are a little bit older but wouldn’t be far behind. If you want to start from the backend I’d suggest Seth Jones, Miro Heiskanen and Thomas Chabot.

Future Blueline

I do think the Oilers future on the blueline would be pretty attractive for a prospective General Manager. Evan Bouchard and Dmitri Samorukov have been dominating the Ontario Hockey League playoffs and will eventually be key pieces on the Oilers blueline. They may not have Cale Makar type upside but I do believe they would be seen as significantly positive pieces moving forward.

Chance To Be A Hero

Let’s be honest, if the new GM can get this team to playoffs next season fans will want to build a statue of him. I know it sounds stupid to ask if it can get any worse at this point but I don’t really think it can. This is a franchise that after four years with Connor McDavid has a top ten pick and is currently searching for a GM and Head Coach, it can’t possibly be this bad again. It’s only up from here and the new GM will have a chance to take most of the credit.

CONS:

Lack of Cap Space

The team will have a little wiggle, but not much. Imagine interviewing a candidate and telling him that one of his first orders of business will be to miraculously free up cap space by somehow moving Milan Lucic, no thanks. If that doesn’t work you can focus on moving an injury prone Andrej Sekera or an overpaid Kris Russell. Either way, it’s a little bit of a nightmare.

No Scoring Depth

McDavid, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins. That’s it. Those would be the only offensive pieces on this team that the new GM would most certainly have to keep around. Nothing against Chiasson but for the right price he can be replaced. Kassian may still serve a purpose with the club but outside of that the cupboard is pretty much bare at the NHL level.

Old Boys Club

Bob Nicholson can say it as many times as he wants but the old boys club is still a thing. Wayne Gretzky, Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish, Paul Coffey and yes even Mark Messier are all still on the payroll. As long as those guys are on the payroll the Oilers will never be able to kick the old boys club image, nor should they.

The next GM will have to deal with that and if a few of those guys aren’t on board with the hire it may be a lost cause before it’s even announced.

The Koskinen Issue

Even if the GM somehow manages to move Lucic and find some help on the wing the entire season could still end up being sunk by goaltending. The next sucker GM of this the team will have to invest some of the little money he will have to work within a goaltender to push or steal the job from Koskinen.

What’s the biggest difference between the Oilers and the Avs or the Oilers and the Islanders? I’m sure there a number of differences but Robin Lehner had a save percentage of .930, Philipp Grubauer had a save percentage of .917 while Koskinen finished 42nd in the league at .906. The big Finn was 36th in the league among goaltenders that played in at least 30 games, so in other words not the stats of a number one guy. Uh oh.

This is a major issue to deal with and I’m not sure there is a solution available to adequately solve the problem.

IN SUMMARY

Thank god for Connor McDavid. If they didn’t have McDavid I’m not sure why any GM wouldn’t just wait for a better opportunity to come along.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • Pro: you get to hang out with me
    Con: these media guys really make us look bad

    Pro: lots of red wine
    Con: hangovers and bag decisions made after red wine summits

    Pro: you gonna get paid
    Con: this will most likely be your list ever job as this is the place GMs and coaches come to die

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    I said this before tyhe OBC has to go, if they are still in the mix, the new GM will be getting lots of “advice” from them. Just what we dont need, the fact that MacT is still tied to Hockey Ops just means that old influence is still there. The Oilers must clean house and that goes from Mgmt down the line

    My fear is that the new GM will have so much interference by others that he wont have any true independence, yes you gather input from your staff, but the OBC I think would still be having more than just say in what goes on and why would a new to us GM want to have to deal with that.

    This search cant drag on and on, but the more the OBC stays in the backround while the search and interviews go on, I think it is going to give any serious candidate pause as to whether they want to come here.

    There will be some changes made in the league to some GM’s after the playoffs, and the season some guys will be on the chopping block, nut I still like McCrimmon and Hunter for the job, and please no Mike Gillis, why interview him when he has been so disconnected from the league for so many years..

    The Oilers are a mess and whoever comes here is going to have a heck of a task on their hands, so it needs to be someone who can wheel and deal, knows people to and that can find talent has his pulse on whats going on in the league and someone who can wheel and deal while keeping an eye on the cap which it seems Chia never knew anything about and please not Keith G as GM..

  • ed from edmonton

    The Koskinnen signing was the last move of the PC era and may well prove to be the worst of the lot. If Koskinnen doesn’t improve this will mean the Oil will be knee capped by not good enough goaltending for at least 2 years. A year 3 buy out may be possible. As a 30 year old it’s unlikely Koskinnen will show significant improvement. Trading D depth for wingers is an obvious move for the new guy or even by KG now. Cap situation will get better over the next two years. But the Koskinnen contract is an albatross that will around the neck for perhaps three years.

  • Oiler Al

    Mr Katz… read the memo….. no one,other than yourself wants the drunk winos around the office. Pull your head out from where the sun don’t shine,and do some spring cleaning.! Start with your mouth piece “the burger baron”
    Your dream has turned into a nightmare and you are not even aware.Many of your fans don’t even know who your heros are and as many don’t care anymore.They have won you zero and never will.You don’t even have the balls to show up inEdmonton,to address the issues there.PS: Your mouth piece is not exactly the brightest star in the sky.

  • Total Points

    Yzerman was never interested in the Oiler job. Nor was Ken Holland. Who would want to come to Edmonton with “Wayne Gretzky, Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish, Paul Coffey and yes even Mark Messier on the payroll.”

    Nothing good will happen a long as those guys are involved. You would think that those Old Boys would still have pride and do the right thing and move along before all respect for them by Oiler fans are gone.

  • Kelly Youngblood

    I read awhile back that the Oilers haven’t contacted Mark Hunter in regards to the GM job. Why would Bob Nicholson not have reached out to Mark Hunter? With Lou Lamoriello as his former boss he surely learned a few tricks from the old master. He’s been a coach, player, scout and assistant GM. He’s got the chops to do the job. And talk about hockey lineage…brothers Dale & Dave. Unless he’s said not interested the Oilers should have him in the mix for serious consideration.

    • Gravis82

      You dont need hockey lineage to be a good GM. In fact, you probably dont even need hockey experience. YOu need a good assistant GM who knows hockey and a great analytics department to enable you to assess markets and determine value.

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        Hunter’s brother played for the Oilers ages ago, but his brother was major part of rebuilding the leafs, he was in the running for the GM job but Dubois beat him to it and Hunter saw the writing on the wall and left the leafs because he wouldnt be moving up the ladder anytime soon.

        KG has been around the Oilers since wayne was here, the OBC knows him. I think KG could make a good GM one day, just not now, he doesnt have the experience to get us out of the mess we are in its just too much of a mess for guy with not enough experience IMHO.

        One would have to think the fanbase would like someone without a connection to the OBC

  • OldOilerFan

    I agree with your assessment, everyone talks about the blueline and we need a #1 defenseman yadda yadda, sure I’d love one to but they aren’t available that often and we can’t afford to go get one. I think there is hope on the horizon with what is on the farm there tho. It’s Goaltending that bothers the heck out of me. Certainly a new GM would be battling high expectations from a frustrated fan base….

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    I said this befre and will again, their needs to be a house cleaning and if the OBC is still here, its is going to make any serious candidate have pause to accept because of the OBC still having too much sway in what goes on. Their needs to be a good cleanout from the top down, anyone who they talk to is seriously going to wonder if the Oielrs really wants change, the fact that the Oilers have done nothing with any of their mgmt or staff is going to make candidates think that a new GM is just going to have to deal with all the old issues plaguing the organisation

    Uncle Bob’s notion that they want to wait till they hire someone for GM and then let them decide what to do, it stinks to high heaven, if they wait till close to the season starting, the new GM cant turf everyone they wouldnt be able to put that many people in place that quick for the season…so your stuck with most of the mgmt, scouts etc and unable to make any changes, and I dont think that would be a coincidence, that would be the perfect excuse to save those from being canned and the new GM stuck with them

  • BasementDweller

    I cringe when I read things like “it can’t possibly be this bad again. It’s only up from here”. How many times have we said this in the last 25 years?

  • Spaceman Spiff

    “…one of the longest GM searches in the NHL history.”

    Pray tell, is there a source for that assertion, or should I just assume it’s business-as-usual and … no?