The Edmonton Oilers fired Peter Chiarelli in late January. A replacement might finally be near.
Kelly McCrimmon was the top candidate and he was promoted to the general manager’s position in Vegas this week. With McCrimmon out, the focus shifts to former Leafs assistant general manager Mark Hunter, current interim GM Keith Gretzky, Montreal Canadiens scout Sean Burke, and former Detroit GM Ken Holland.
Sportsnet’s Mark Spector reported the job is Holland’s if he wants it. Holland would receive complete autonomy to hire and fire whoever he wants, although Bob Nicholson would like K. Gretzky to stay on. Is Holland the right man to turn the Oilers around? Edmonton appears to all in on Holland as their next GM.
The Detroit Red Wings are in good hands with Steve Yzerman now, but, similar to whoever arrives in Edmonton, he has to deal with significant cap challenges. Frans Nielsen, Justin Abdelkader, and Darren Helm are a trio of overpaid forwards with term on their contracts. Abdelkader has four years remaining.
On defence, the situation is much better. Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley only have one year remaining, otherwise Yzerman will have the flexibility to make this roster his own. Jonathan Bernier has two more seasons at $3-million on the cap.
There’s no Milan Lucic on Detroit, although Abdelkader isn’t too far off. Yzerman has an easier cap position to navigate than Holland, or whoever, would in Edmonton.
Should the Oilers trust Holland to navigate them out of cap jail when the Red Wings didn’t? Obviously, you have to make room for an Yzerman when they become available. The Oilers weren’t getting Yzerman, but shouldn’t they be seeking more of an Yzerman than a Holland?
Holland’s recent record with Detroit is mixed. Sure, maybe his hand was forced by an ownership group determined to extend their playoff streak as long as possible. That does not excuse long-term contracts handed out to mediocre players. Holland had a magnificent run with Detroit, but the Oilers need the best person to win them a Stanley Cup going forward, not in 2010.
Does Holland significantly shift how the Oilers operate and evaluate players? The concern with Chiarelli was his poor cap management and indifference to overpaying to get his guy, whether that’s Adam Larsson or Rich Peverley. Chiarelli repeated the same mistakes in Edmonton: overvaluing size and toughness and spending too much on players that aren’t stars. Can Holland adapt? Chiarelli couldn’t.
Holland is out of the country, returning Saturday night and the potential of him becoming the next GM of the Oilers likely determined in the next few days.
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) May 4, 2019
Nine current GMs were former NHL GMs: Bob Murray, David Poile, Dale Tallon, Doug Armstrong, Jim Rutherford, Ray Shero, Lou Lamoriello, Chuck Fletcher, Steve Yzerman.
Rutherford is only the second GM to win a Stanley Cup with two different teams, although Poile and Armstrong have had success with their second teams. Shero’s done some good things with New Jersey. It’s too early to judge Lamoriello, Fletcher, and Yzerman with their new teams.
Holland comes with extensive experience, compared to Hunter or Gretzky, but it’s difficult for GMs to have success with two different organizations. The Oilers tried that with Chiarelli, and it backfired miserably. Nicholson might be going back to that well again with Holland.
The Oilers need a significant change in management. Is Holland another established guy with success closer to 2010 than 2019? Or can he adapt and build another winner like Rutherford did in Pittsburgh?