Last night’s game was an embarrassment and more proof that the Oilers are not close to being an contending team. I am frustrated and mad at this team and fans should be as well.
Big decisions loom over the organization. Season ticket holders have yet to get a definitive answer on what their tickets will cost them this season. Last year is was March 22nd when the team sent out emails asking about whether or not fans were ready to renew. The organization is in serious danger of losing money as it seems less likely every day that renewals are going to increase...especially with the likely scenario that ticket prices will increase.
When money is on the line you can bet the Oilers organization will actually take a serious look at the state of things, and that may begin with the hiring of a new General Manger. A number of names have been brought up as potential candidates and today I’m going to provide a bit of info on who those people are.
The current interim GM of the Edmonton Oilers and by far the least popular choice. Having Keith Gretzky officially take the reins as the General Manager would be a continuation of the organization failing to look at outside help, avoiding making any real sweeping changes, or accept responsibility that those who have been part of this tire fire maybe should not be promoted… naturally this is the decision I fully expect the team to make.
Keith Gretzky has made some fine moves since becoming interim GM. He managed to move Ryan Spooner for Sam Gagner who already has 4 goals in 13 games with Edmonton, as well as moving the Talbot salary which was necessary after signing Koskinen to that albatross of a deal.
Gretzky has shown to be strong in evaluating talent. He worked at Director of Amateur Scouting for the Coyotes in 2006 and was part of the drafting of players like Ekman Larsson, Kyle Turris, and Mikkel Boedker. More recently he was Director of Scouting for the Bruins who helped identify players like David Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk, and Charlie McAvoy.
Promoting Gretzky to the full time GM would be a typically Oilers move which we have seen blow up time and time again. As I mentioned, it alleviates the pressure off of other members of the organization and prevents any real change from occurring. Lastly while Gretzky has not been around for all of the poor Chiarelli moves (I mistakenly before stated he was around for the Hall and Reinhart trades) he was still Chiarelli's second in command for the past two seasons. The state of the Oilers falls upon his shoulders as well.
I would absolutely not want Gretzky as the General Manager moving forward as it feels like far too much of a cop out. If a new GM decided to keep him on in a scouting capacity I think that is a better use of his talents.
Mahoney was not one of the names originally brought to the forefront when the Oilers GM position became available, but looking at his track record, there is certainly plenty to like. Another Director of Scouting turned Assistant GM, Mahoney has been part of the Washington Capitals for nearly two decades. Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Varlamov, Carlson, the list goes on… all were scouted by Ross Mahoney.
The Capitals through the years like many teams, have had to navigate the salary cap and ensure the core of the roster is kept together. Washington has done a great job in that regard, keeping the core together, and when they have moved out key players, the returns the received have allowed them continue to be a contending team.
There are not many cons to show here aside from simple lack of experience. Mahoney has been the Assistant GM since 2014 but has never been a General Manager in the NHL. With decades of experience though, he has strong relationships with members of every other team in the league and could certainly use that to his advantage.
On paper Mahoney seems like a solid choice; an outside hire with years of experience under his belt, albeit none as a General Manager.
McCrimmon was the General Manager of the Brandon Wheat Kings for more than 30 years before being hired as the Assistant General Manager of the Vegas Golden Knights. The Wheat Kings had one of the most dominant records under McCrimmon, spanning two decades and helped develop players like now Golden Knight Mark Stone at the junior level.
The Golden Knights record speaks for itself as they are the most successful expansion team, arguably in sports history. This season they have perhaps even more impressively, managed to build off of that success and will be looking to make another deep playoff run.
Lightning in a bottle. Things seemed to line up perfectly for the Golden Knights, from the players that were gifted to them, the career years that followed, and everything else that came as a result of that. McCrimmon is the most inexperienced at the NHL level of any name on this list. Not only would McCrimmon come into Edmonton with very little experience, but he would also be entering the most mismanaged team in the NHL. It would be a steep learning curve.
McCrimmon represents a high risk high reward possibility for Edmonton. He is a forward thinking man who understands where the game of hockey is going but also checks the “hockey man” checkbox that the Oilers will always look for.
The current assistant manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs have been one of the most forward groups in the league in terms of the types of people they have hired and the fact that they are not simply an old boys club makes it surprising to see him on this list.
The current Maple Leafs record speaks for itself. Toronto has one of the most talented and skilled young group of forwards in the league with elite players like Marner, Tavares, and Matthews at the helm.
Looking up info on Gilman, I came across an article labeling him as a "capologist" and was a strong supporting of using analytics to help navigate the cap. Better late than never might be the most appropriate quote here as Edmonton is in desperate need of figuring out solutions to the state they are in.
Mitch Marner was drafted before he was hired by Toronto as was William Nylander. Auston Matthews was the obvious #1 pick in 2016. Tavares wanted to come back to Toronto. The current core of the Leafs do not exist because of any brilliant work by Gilman. Any member of the Leafs organization probably look appealing from the outside, but what can guys like this do for an organization as poor as Edmonton?
Laurence Gilman seems like a very intelligence hockey man and if push comes to shove and he is announced as the Oilers GM I would likely have no issues with the decision. He is not my first choice but he represents a different way of thinking that this organization needs.
After Dave Nonis was fired by the Leafs, Mark Hunter and Kyle Dubas served as co-interim general mangers. Dubas was later promoted to GM while Hunter agreed to part ways with the organization.
A long time coach and general manager in the OHL, similar to McCrimmon, Hunter comes from a career of working with and developing young players and understands how the game has adapted and changed over the years.
As the Leafs continued to struggle through the late 2000's, it was Hunter and Dubas who finally helped right the ship and bring in new people who have helped to turn the team into one of the most dominant in the NHL. Success has followed Hunter through his career and many fans believed he should have been given the GM job over Dubas.
The main con is more of a conflict of interest. Hunter is joining hockey Canada to manage the Canadian junior team. It is unclear whether or not Hunter wishes for another NHL job or if working with young developing players is his passion and where he wants to stay.
Another strong choice that represents a different background than what the Edmonton Oilers have come to represent.
Of this list of 5, if I had to put them in order of who I believe would have the most success with Edmonton, I would choose the following.
1) Ross Mahoney
2) Mark Hunter
3) Kelly McCrimmon
4) Laurence Gilman
5) Keith Gretzky
Who are your picks?