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Answer Me This

If you could put yourself in Bob Nicholson’s shoes and conduct the interviews to find a new GM for the Edmonton Oilers, what would be the three most important questions you’d ask to determine the right guy for the job?

Rob Tychkowski of Post Media asked a bunch of them in a piece he wrote today, and Nicholson would do well to cut and paste all of them before he walks into his next interview, be it with Kelly McCrimmon or Mark Hunter or whoever else you’d like to name. It’s definitely worth a read, and Tychkowski’s questions no doubt mirror what a lot of fans want to know.

While I’d hit any and all candidates hoping to replace Peter Chiarelli with the whole works, three of the questions Tychkowski posed stand out for me. Your mileage, as the saying goes, may vary, but give it a read.

JUST ASKING

What is your plan for in goal?

When Chiarelli signed Mikko Koskinen to a three-year deal worth $4.5 million a season, he already had one foot out the door. I don’t recall anybody who could make sense of the timing of the signing. What was the rush to get the ink done?

By the end of the season, with Koskinen up and down and all over the place before finishing with a .906 save-percentage and a 2.93 goals-against average, timing wasn’t the only question. Might Koskinen settle in as a legit (and higher-end) starter? Sure. What if he doesn’t? Who comes in now to form a tandem with Koskinen? At what price?

What will you do with Milan Lucic?

Save for his first season here, when he had 23-27-50, Lucic and his $6 million annual cap hit has been an absolute millstone around the necks of the Oilers. Bad enough Chiarelli sent the Oilers the wrong way by shipping out skill in Taylor Hall and replacing it with size and toughness in Lucic in a league getting faster instead of bigger, No. 27 hasn’t produced, to understate.

As for providing character and leadership, the supposed consolation prize when talking about Lucic, what’s that look like? How’s that working out? What character and leadership, exactly, is Lucic providing? So, what does the new GM do to get out from under what many people consider a buy-out proof contract? Trade and retain salary? Keep him? Show me a plan.

What is an acceptable chain of command between you and the owner?

There’s the $64-question. If a new GM comes in expecting anything less than complete control over decisions at every level of hockey operations, it isn’t going to work. That much we know. Complete control doesn’t mean the new GM can’t take advice from those he trusts, it just means he has the final say without interference or second-guessing – right up to the owner’s suite.

That has to include having the ability to hire and fire personnel, including coaches, scouts and assistant GM’s without getting a written note from Nicholson or Daryl Katz. Demanding that kind of latitude with a team that’s missed the playoffs in 12 of the last 13 seasons shouldn’t eliminate a candidate from contention, it should push him to the front of the line. If it doesn’t, nothing is going to change.

WHILE I’M AT IT

I know Rod Pedersen’s declaration that Ken Holland would be the next GM of the Oilers on Twitter last week has been pretty much dismissed by media covering the team since then, but why do I get the sense Holland might somehow still be an option hovering in the background?

Has anybody credible come right out and said, “No, it’s not going to happen, there’s no chance?” The Oilers haven’t, not that I’d expect them to say anything at this point. I’ve heard a lot of people say nothing has been decided or that Holland isn’t in the running right now, but does that mean he might not be an option? What if McCrimmon or fill-in-name-here says, “No thanks” to Nicholson?

I know the majority of fans around here have given Holland a thumbs-down to be the new GM – I understand the sentiment behind the cynicism — but they don’t get a vote in what happens next and neither do I. That falls to Nicholson and Katz. I’ve got a funny feeling about this.

HOCKEY HELPS THE HOMELESS

Last year, the fifth edition of Hockey Helps the Homeless in Edmonton had a record year by raising $200,000 to assist the Mustard Seed and Jasper Place Wellness Centre in helping the homeless and those living in poverty.

With the event fast approaching May 10 at the Terwillegar Rec Centre, we’re hoping citizens of Oilersnation step up to help, as they always do, to make HHTH the biggest success yet. Last year’s response was fantastic, thanks in large part to the 10th anniversary Oilersnation party that raised $5,000 for HHTH, with every penny staying right here in Edmonton.

In these final days leading up to the tournament, we’re hoping to sell as many $1,000 pennant sponsorships, and $100 Mega-Raffle tickets as we can. If you own a small business or want a keepsake for the games room at home, pennant sponsorships are perfect – you get a pennant with your company logo signed by our pros. With the Mega-Raffle, just 100 tickets are printed. The winner gets a Theatre Suite for 10 guests, food and a bar tab at an Oilers game next season hosted by Ron and Linda Low. Good times.

You can check out the website, purchase pennant sponsorships and Mega-Raffle tickets or donate here.

Previously by Robin Brownlee



  • RJ

    I don’t expect magic as it relates to Lucic. Unless the new CBA has a buy-out provision, they’re stuck with him.

    The bigger question I’d have is what they do with players like Puljujarvi, Yamamoto, Benson and the prospects from this draft.

    There has to be a clear model for managing player development.

  • corky

    JUst Nicholson and Katz have votes? Seems unlikely. I’m prone to thinking a future Red Wine Summit will lend itself to a vote. This group dynamic they have is going to be a hard habit to break.

  • FanBoy

    I would go with:
    1) you’ve got to make the playoffs this year, how will you go about doing this?
    2) we’ve got tons of prospects bubbling, how do you make sure they become NHLers?
    3) How will you make a consistently competitive team? (how will you get rid of Lucic/Russell/Manning), (which head coach are you targeting)

    • macinmillwoods

      Correct answers from GM candidate:
      1. Its not happening unless Koskinen is the most valuable player after McDavid and Draisaitl. I didn’t build this team and it’s got some major issues that won’t all get fixed this year.
      2. You’ve got some OK prospects. I’ll make sure they aren’t blocked but they have to take a job; it won’t be given to them.
      3. It’ll take a year or two, but I expect we’ll make a playoff run in 2022 and compete for the championship the next 3-4 years. I’ll get back to you on the head coach, but it won’t be Hitch or anyone else who thinks having d-men like Manning or Petrovic are a good idea.

  • Hemmercules

    Bob only asks one question in the interviews: Can we puppet you for the most part while you are here or are you actually looking to replace some of my staff/friends and make some moves on your own regard?

      • Hemmercules

        Just wait and see. I bet we’re all wrong. They probably hire a good guy, he fires a few people and turns the team around. It’s bound to happen eventually right? If even by chance in spite of the OBC. They did strike gold once in 2006 so its not totally impossible.

        • Thought that would happen when they drafted McDavid and were told by the league and Mr Orr to clean this mess up. The guys who left the turd on the floor are still employed and actively involved in hockey ops. Congratulations Katz, you have made Wayne a punchline, made T Mac look like a rookie coach, same for Tom Renney, etc, etc,etc. I hear what you are saying, but all indicators are everything will stay exactly the same.

          • GM-macT

            Mac T had his issues as a GM but as I coach I don’t think anyone who knows hockey can complain about his work. 06 was pretty much the only time he had a half decent team

          • Hemmercules

            All indications actually point to them doing the right thing this time. When was the last time the Oilers actually interviewed someone more than once rather than just hand the job to their friends? I need them to get it right this time, my hockey interest is fading by the year. If the OBC sinks the team again with this decision I’m probably done with hockey. My kid hates hockey and my beer league is probably going to fold next season. This team is all I have left in the world of hockey.

      • Kool-Aid Man

        Although Gillis would fit right in with the other bumbling fools, I have a feeling Lowe wouldn’t go for it. Lowe is still bitter when Gillis helped his client (Nylander) get out of a contract with the Oilers. That really hurt his feelings and he couldn’t file a “hurt-feelings” report with the NHL at the time.

  • Rick Stroppel

    Mr. Brownlee’s third question is a good one, but it is not one that Nicholson should be asking The GM prospect. It is a question that the GM prospect should be asking of Darry Katz. There is big problem here. You cannot fire your boss. Go look at the Oilers corporate structure on their website. Many of the people we are all so tired of are ABOVE the GM in the corporate hierarchy: Nicholson, Lowe, MacTavish, W. Gretzky. So they aren’t going anywhere. Also, you cannot start firing people until you have been in a new job for 6-9 months at least. You have to get the lay of the land. So for Nicholson, the wonderful thing about this process is that it guarantees him and his good buddies employment for the next year or so. If Katz refused to talk to a GM prospect…or said the wrong thing…an intelligent person would turn the job down.

    I have a queasy feeling that the free T shirts, fridge magnets and monogramed pens are being offered because the “new” GM is going to be K Gretzky and the “new” coach is going to be Ken Hitchcock. I hope I am wrong.

  • TKB2677

    I understand why fans are so negative. Being an Oilers fan sucks and it’s hard to believe they will do anything right. But put the anger towards the team aside for a minute and think logically. Even if the Oilers wanted Holland, why on earth would be come here?

    Let’s go over the facts about Holland.
    – Had has worked for the Wings and the Illitch family according to Stauffer for 37 years.
    – He was GM of the Wings for 22 years.
    – He’s 63 years old.
    – Being the GM for 22 years, Detroit is his home.
    – Being with the same team and owned by the same family, there is a hell of a lot of loyalty going both ways.
    – Being with the same team for 37 yrs, GM for 22 yrs, I am sure he is paid EXTREMELY well.
    – Given his age and probably thinking that the team he has been with for over half his life needed some fresh ideas, he hand picked Yzerman to take over the GM job.
    – He has been promoted to a senior hockey position. So it’s not like he’s unemployed or has a job that has nothing to do with rebuilding a hockey team.
    – He is part of an original 6 team so there is some prestige to his job.
    He literally just signed an EXTENSION last week.

    Why oh why would he quit the job he just got and signed an extension for to move across the continent and into a new country to be the GM of the Oilers? Taking the Hockey Canadian connection out of it which I know Oilers fans just can’t get past, think about it for a minute. It’s not like he didn’t know about the Oilers job. It’s been known about for months. Given the Hockey Canada connection, you can’t tell me Nicholson hasn’t talked to his buddy Holland in some way. So given all of that, why would Holland take the Oilers job and stab his boss of 37 yrs in the back after he literally just got a brand new, probably very lucrative contract?

    I think some people really need to stop, take a breath, put the anger aside for a minute and think about it logically.

  • BR

    How happy would GM’s be if they got one Compliance buyout to use every 3-5 years. Only one. and only on a contract that was at least 3 years in term and over say $3m per. If we could just dissapear Lucic, he gets his money, and gets to start fresh with another team (he still has use in a more limited role).

    • TKB2677

      It will never happen but you have to wonder if some players would actually welcome that. In the case of Lucic, sure he’s making his money but unless you have no emotions what so ever, it has to suck a bit to be in Edmonton with how it’s going. It’s been well documented that it wasn’t just the Oilers offering Lucic the money and term, there were multiple other teams offer similar money and term. Supposedly, Montreal offered more money. So when he signed here, I am sure he did it thinking he would put up his normal numbers, he was on a team with McDavid, the Oilers would be good and yeah you are in Edmonton but you are winning and life would be good. Well it’s gone the opposite. So it has to suck and weigh on him to hear fans and media bashing you all the time, calling him washed up, the worst signing, etc. I think Lucic can bring value to some teams, even the Oilers. If he was making Reeves money – 2.5-3 mill, then there is no issue. I bet without the pressure of living up to 6 mill a year and hearing about it daily, he’d play better. So I do wonder if a guy like Lucic would welcome a compliance buyout. He gets most of his money, then he signs somewhere else in a more comfortably City for his family, maybe being more productive. Instead, he’s stuck. The Oilers can’t buy him out because the penalty to the cap is just so bad. So a credit to his agent for coming up with this contract but it’s also a curse because he might be stuck in a situation that isn’t working for him.

  • ed from edmonton

    I would be asking strategic rather than tactical questions along the lines of your third. Fixing the goaltending mess is the most important thing going into next season but I think the new guys hands will be tied for at least one year on this.

    • The answer is I don’t need Wayne or Craig or Scott or Bill or Bob (Green or Nicholson) or Mark or either Paul (Coffey or Messier) or Sutter or Lord Of The Rings or Schwartz. The response is , interview over, not paying attention? We need a lapdog.

  • Just a Fan

    I believe a GM’s job is to plan for the future. With that in mind:
    1. What kind of team to you think can be effective in the NHL in 5 years?
    2. How would you build the Oilers to become that team?
    3. What experience / beliefs do you have with analytics?

    Asking a General Manager about what is an acceptable chain of command is ridiculous. This is a question that the GM should be asking the organization and if they did not ask it I would not hire them.

  • McRaj

    I had a long essay written out but looks like Oilers Nation servers can only handle a set word limit. Coles note version.

    1.) Trade Nuge and Bear to avs for 4th OA and second 1st rounder.
    2.) Draft Byram at 4th OA, Caulfield at 8th OA, Brett Leason with avs first rounder, Brayden Tracey at 38th OA.
    3.) Russ and Sekera have some value, trade them to a team on their list for 2nd or 3rd round picks.
    4.) On July 2nd trade Looch and Pulju to Canucks for 2021 2nd rounder.
    5.) After these trades, our projected cap space of 8M, and cap going up by 5M, I now have 34.5M to spend, and this is how I spend it.

    • McRaj

      1.) Offer Canucks 2021 2nd and our 2020 3rd rounder for Tyler Johnson ($5M) as Tampa needs to shed dollars.
      2.) Trade Benning for Connor Brown and sign him 2 years at 2.5M per.
      3.) Offer Sheet Kapanen, 2 years @ 4M per (cost is a 2nd rounder) making it near impossible for leafs to match.
      4.) SIgn Nyquist, 7M per for 3 years.
      5.) Sign Stalman, 2 years at 6.5M per.
      6.) Sign Mrazek, 2 years at 4M per.
      That is $29M spent with 5.5M in cap space and following roster:

    • McRaj

      Drai – McDavid – Kapanen
      Nyquist – Johnson – Brown
      Benson – Marody – Gagner
      Khaira – Brodziak – Kassian

      Klef – Larsson
      Nurse – Stralman
      Jones – Bouchard

      Mrazek
      Kosk

      Prospects: Byram, Caulfield, Leason, Tracey, Yamo, Persson, Lagesson, Samorukov, McLeod.

      • toprightcorner

        You must be assuming Chiarelli is the man accepting all of these trades for every team??

        COL gave up Duchene to get the 4th overall and you think they will take Nuge with only 2 years left on his contract for that? Then you think you could trade Bear straight across for a 1st rounder in the 20’s? Then you think a solid second line center can be had for a 2nd and a 3rd? He would fetch a 1st and 3rd at the trade deadline if he had an expiring contract and he has 5 years left.

        You massively overpay for Nyqvist and Stralman’s best days are behind him and not worth more than $4 mill.

        You really think CAR won’t resign the goalie that not only dragged them to the playoffs but was the reason they won the 2nd round?

        An offer sheet for only 2 years isn’t worth the paper it is written on. No way Kapanen signs short term unless it is a 1 year $7 mill deal like O’Reilly got from the Flames.

        • McRaj

          It’s called a bridge contract. It’s funny how there are always going to be people nagging and crying, no GM can succeed here because the fan base is extremely toxic. No wonder players don’t want to come here. And you overpay in dollars due to not going long in term. Nyquist had 60 points this year buddy, maybe watch some games, look up some stats, before opening your big yap

    • TKB2677

      For the record, I like Nuge a lot but you can’t be serious with your trade to Colorado? You think Nuge and Bear are worth 2 first rounders, a 4th overall and a mid 20’s. Like come on man.

      Bear is a former 3rd round pick who right now is an AHLer. He has 18 career NHL games. He’s not worth a lot. Never happening.

      • McRaj

        Jordan Stall got traded for 8th OA. Schneider got traded for 7th OA. Nite is at high value right now. Why is it when Oilers acquire a player it has to be 8th OA plus something but when it’s the other way Oilers can’t get a lottery pick for a better player? Also Johnson on an expiring deal goes for a first and third but Nuge ain’t worth two firsts. Our fan base is dumber than I thought Lol.

  • Boukalz82

    I hate the idea of ken Holland as GM.. I have not seen anyone mention the possibility of him as POHO though. Nicholson is not qualified for that position and has made that very obvious. Is there any chance we get 2 of the names floating around out there? Holland as POHO and Mcrimmon as GM would be ok with me..

  • Beer

    This is the way I see It. Gravel and Petrovic are gone, Jones and Bear take their place, Bouchard starts in the minor’s. Injury’s will come, and they will all get a chance. Sek’s did better than expected upon his return, so I keep him around for one more year because him and Russel are still a veteran presence, and both tradeable next some summer. Lucic on the other hand…I’d rather waste Katz’s money letting him sit in the press for another year and see what his agent can shake loose without retaining salary and sending out a good prospect.
    As far as a new GM. If they look like Trudeau or Notley. Don’t hire them. This is hockey team, not a social science experiment.

    • TKB2677

      You do realize that for the last 15+ games, the Oilers defense was:
      Klef – Larsson
      Nurse – Russell
      Sekera – Benning.

      So both Gravel and Petrovic didn’t play. So if the Oilers do what you said which is:
      – Keep both Sekera and Russell for 1 more year to be that “vet” presence
      – I assume keep everyone else.

      You have Jones and Bear just sitting in the pressbox every game. How exactly does that make any sense?

      If the Oilers can get rid of both Russell and Sekera, they 100% need to do that. Even if they can only get rid of 1 of them, they have to do it.

      • Beer

        I don’t have Jones and Bear in the press box at the same time, they play, they make mistakes, they go back to press box,they learn.
        Russel and Sek’s have a NMC until next year that states they make a list of teams they’re willing to be traded to in the off season starting July 1st of 2020. If you convince them to wave it now, you have to replace they’re contracts with something that might be more horendous long term. You can get rid of both of them next summer without tying a noose around your neck. Cap Hell ends next summer.

        • TKB2677

          You should double check your information.

          Starting this season, the 19-20 season, Sekera has to submit a 15 team list. Russell has to submit a 10 team list. https://www.capfriendly.com/teams/oilers

          Regardless, having a young dman like Jones and Bear play one game, then sit another does not help them develop, only PLAYING helps them develop. If you want to give them a game off once in a while just to take a breath, sure go for it but they have to play the majority of the season. Otherwise don’t have them up.

          To your point about replacing their contracts. You might have to replace 1 contract which would be great for the Oilers. This past season, Russell was in their top 4. I don’t hate Russell but ideally he’s not your top 4, right shot dman especially considering he shoots left. He’s making 4 mill. Sekera who was in your 3rd pairing, makes 5.5 mill. It’s insanity to have 9 mill tied up in 2 guys who should be be in your bottom pair. In order for the Oilers to get better, they need to shed their salaries.

          Bare minimum for me, I have the following:
          Klef – Larsson
          Nurse – New right shot
          Jones – Benning.

          If you shed both Russel and Sekera and their 9.5 mil combined, you can go out and either trade for or sign a pretty darn good dman and probably still have money left over.

          • Beer

            Like I said July 1st 2020. They’re tradable. CapFriendly says they submit they’re list 2020. You Know July 1st.
            Who do you actually think is available and worth 9.5mil.

          • Randaman

            You don’t trade Russell before Benning. At least Russell can skate and defend. Benning is expendable! Move Russell back to the left side and bring up Jones. He plays both sides

          • Oilerproud

            As of the beginning of the 19-20 season Russell and Sekera both are tradeable under the conditions of their nmcs. So as of October 2019 not July 1st 2020. Don’t know where @beer got that date from. It’s very difficult to consider anything @beer posts as intelligent when he’s clearly pulling arbitrary misinformation from nowhere.

        • TKB2677

          The Oilers need more speed, more puck moving and more offense from the back end. If the Oilers go into next season with both Sekera and Russell still on their team, get ready for another bad year because that most likely means they haven’t brought any of what they need. Russell is not a good puck mover and brings very little offense. Sekera is a going to be 33 yr old, who was already slow to begin with dman who has had 2 consecutive major injures to his legs. They need to get rid of those 2 in a hurry. At the very least, they need to get rid of 1.

  • toprightcorner

    The second and 3rd questions are pointless. Lucic has a NMC so the GM is limited as to what he can do. Sure he can try to force Lucic to wave it by threatening to have him in the press box all season, but that just makes the GM look worse.

    Asking the candidate what they see as the best chain of command is also fruitless as Every candidate would want total control and it will be up to Nicholson and Katz how they see the chain of command. I think that answer is somewhat determined by what the Oilers want to do.

    • Beer

      There is no need to threaten Lucic, you just approach him and his agent in a respectful manner and explain that this is where were going in the long term and if you would like to explore.. Your welcome to. I still think he wants to play his heart out in the right place at this point in his career. He’s earned it. NYR comes to mind, Florida maybe.

      • toprightcorner

        I said the new GM has zero control if Lucic doesn’t want to waive his NMC. If his answer was to take Lucic and his agent out for dinner to try to convince him to waive, it isn’t an answer, its a hope. Why ask a question that nobody can answer but Lucic? If a GM says he will ask nicely, does that make you more likely to hire him?

        It doesn’t matter how many good ideas you come up with to tell Nicholson how you can deal with Lucic’s contract, if Lucic won’t wave, there is nothing you can do. If he only allows you to trade him to 2 teams, it may be net to impossible to accommodate that because that team has to want him for what you are willing to do to sweeten the deal.

        I was joking about threatening him only because that is the only way you can ensure Lucic will waive his NMC

        • Beer

          The biggest thing you threaten Lucic with is, not trading him. He’s doesn’t want to end his career with the California Golden Seals if you know what I mean.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    I know it’s the OBC, but I think it’s important to note that Edmonton isn’t the only team with meddling owners.

    Based on what I’ve read in FN articles, Ken King had to be consulted by the GM for every trade/signing. He had to approve it before it went down. Apparently, Brad had a deal in place to get Ben Bishop, but Ken King was on a plane at the time so Brad lost his shot. As a result, Brad apparently had “autonomy” built into his new contract last year.

    I think when the new Oilers GM is announced, the journalist around the club should be keen on finding out if a similar arrangement is in place, for the sake of the fans.

  • Rama Lama

    I would ask the following three questions:

    1. Is there any PC trade that has impressed you? If there is please find the exit door and never come back!
    2. If you had a top left winger in the NHL who was also your leader and top point getter, would you consider trading him for a shut down defender……..straight across? If the answer is yes, please GTHO.
    3. If you were surrounded by a bunch of HOF types, would you be able to finish a sentence? If not PGTHO!

    • FISTO Siltanen

      1. Maroon and Kassian. Plus he gave this entire team a mulligan and chance to reclaim their roles when he arrived (Nail, Justin Schultz).
      2. Who was the top LW? We had a guy who scored points once upon a time and wasn’t considered good enough for either Olympics or World Cup teams. Seemed nobody was impressed. And pro-rate his points from 2nd half of 2016 to end of 1st year in NJ. He was a 48 point “top left winger in NHL”.
      3. Fair question

  • FISTO Siltanen

    If the OBC stays I hope MacT qualifies as the VP of Alcohol sales. He can be the overseer of over consumption.

    Gretzky will help pick out the whiskeys. Put a smoking room in Rogers and I’m sure he can pick a mean cigar.

    • hagar

      You dont think things will be different this time for absolutely no reason it should be?

      Well that is just crazy talk. Everyone knows the sixth time is the time it works.

    • OilTastic

      when upper management continues to be the problem, there’s no reason to think that the on ice product will be any different than what we see currently, with apologies to Hunter or McCrimmon or whomever else gets the job.

  • Serious Gord

    There’s only one question I would ask that is leagues ahead of all others if I’m BN:

    “Do you have the guts to tell Daryl or me or anyone else to eff-off and push forward with making this organization and team second-to-none?”

    • Derian Hatcher

      Maybe the candidate will, in turn, as BN “Do you have the guts to get rid of the dead weight that has been the cancer of this organization for years?”

  • Burnward

    Why do we assume Katz has endless pockets?

    I bet he’s mad about throwing money after money away on executives.

    It’s more than a little convenient to me that they’re pushing this past the renewal dates for season tickets.

    Bluster and fake hope to sucker you all in again. Give them your money. Then watch a Gretzky take the reigns anyway.

    Womp womp.