Off-Season Moves: Steve Staios in as GM?
By Jason Gregor6 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers season ended earlier than they had hoped last night. Leon Draisaitl’s emotional post-game press conference accurately portrayed the disappointment for the organization.
“It hurts,” said Draisaitl while wearing a hoodie and choking back tears. “It is tough to find words right now. When you start the season, you are in to win it and we are at that stage. It feels like a failure or a waste of a year.”
His dejection reminded me of Nathan MacKinnon a few years earlier when the Avalanche lost to Vegas. He was gutted. As painful as it is for Draisaitl and his teammates, the Oilers need to learn from their mistakes and disappointment and find ways to improve next season. But who will be their general manager?
Steve Staios is highly regarded by many as an up-and-coming GM, and today on the DFO Rundown podcast my co-host Frank Seravalli outlined he can see Ken Holland holding the President of Hockey Operations while Staios has the GM title.
“I think change is on the horizon in Edmonton,” said Seravalli. “When you consider what is looming out there in other searches, I expect the Oilers to be very proactive and protective of Steve Staios. He is someone they value, and they have a thin staff as it is. The Oilers see Staios as their next general manager, and how quickly that happens will depend on a few things.
“If Micheal Andlauer is the successful bidder to purchase the Ottawa Senators, formerly the owner of the Hamilton Bulldogs where he found a lot of success with Staios, there will be a real pull to bring Staios with him as the next GM of the Senators. I think the Oilers want to get out in front of that.”
“I won’t be shocked, I’m not reporting this, just this is what the speculation has been behind the scenes, is that there is a possibility Ken Holland will be promoted to President of Hockey Operations and Steve Staios is promoted to general manager,” said Seravalli.
I don’t expect the Oilers to make major moves to their roster. They will make some. They need to improve the right wingers. Evan Bouchard’s contract negotiation will impact how the roster is constructed, and how much money they will have to fill out their forward group. He will be the big off-season signing. He doesn’t have arbitration rights, and a bridge deal might be in place as Edmonton would need to make significant moves to sign him long term.
Nick Bjugstad and Derek Ryan are pending free agents. Klim Kostin is an RFA with arbitration rights. So is Ryan McLeod. Edmonton won’t have room to sign all of them and I think McLeod is the top priority among those four.
Kailer Yamamoto’s production didn’t match his cap hit. Can he bounce back, or will the Oilers look to move him?
How can they improve their defence? Is Broberg ready, and if they believe he is, is he an upgrade on Brett Kulak, who had an outstanding season?
Whoever has the title of GM will have a busy off-season, and according to Seravalli, the arrows point to it being Staios.
We could see some change on the Oilers’ business side as well. I’ve heard rumblings Bob Nicholson might retire as Chairman of the Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG). Nicholson was involved in hockey decisions, although he never overruled Holland. He was mainly overseeing the business side of the OEG. Contemplating retirement and retiring are very different though. Easy to think about one, harder to actually do it for most of us. If he does, the OEG would need someone to take on that role. They could promote from within with one of Stu MacDonald, Stuart Ballantyne, or Tim Shipton. Or they look elsewhere like they did a few years ago when they hired Tom Anselmi.
The Oilers have done very well financially recently, but there were many regular season games that had empty suites. Sometimes as many as 5-8. The cost of a suite, combined with the challenges for companies (suite holders) rebounding after COVID, makes filling the building, even with a competitive team on the ice, a challenge.
Some of the Oilers’ biggest off-season moves won’t involve players. It could be in management.
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