After missing the playoffs 12 times in the past 13 seasons, one of the first priorities for the Edmonton Oilers this off-season is to find a new general manager.
The Oilers fired Peter Chiarelli in late-January and had Keith Gretzky act as the interim GM for the remainder of the season.
At the Oilers’ season-ending news conference, CEO Bob Nicholson said:
“We have to give the fans a plan and we have to make sure the fans understand the plan. It starts right away, as soon as the general manager is in place. We have to make sure we’re getting that out in front of everyone.”
He went on further to say,
“I’d like to hire the general manager tomorrow, but that’s not going to happen. As I’ve said before, I’m not going to rush the process. We’re going to do a deep dive . . . I’d like to have the person as soon as possible, but I’m not sure how long that’s going to take.”
Potential Oilers General Manager Candidates
At this point, we are not entirely sure who is at the top of the candidate list.
It is more speculation than anything, but here are some names who may be considered in the running to become the Edmonton Oilers’ next GM.
Keith Gretzky an Internal GM Candidate
Keith Gretzky is an obvious place to start, he acted as the Oilers’ interim general manager after Peter Chiarelli was let go and received good reviews.
Gretzky stated that he is interested in running for the position.
He went on to say that “I have the knowledge of being around for three years*. I know what’s in our system. I know what we have coming up.”
(*joined the Oilers as an assistant GM in 2016)
In the interview, Nicholson also stated that he was impressed by Gretzky’s performance in the interim.
All in all, this helps Gretzky because the interviewing process should be easier. Considering that they know exactly what they are getting from Gretzky if they decide to name him the new GM.
At the same time, some may argue that Gretzky may not be the best candidate out there and the Oilers should explore all options thoroughly before pulling the trigger on him.
Kelly McCrimmon an External GM Candidate
Kelly McCrimmon is another name rumored to be a strong gm candidate on the Oilers’ target list.
The current Vegas Golden Knights assistant general manager has played a huge role in helping put a strong team in Vegas.
Prior to that, McCrimmon was with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League (since 1988). He has served as a majority owner, GM, and coach. He won two WHL championships and multiple division and conference titles.
Needless to say, McCrimmon has proven that he is capable of putting together a winning culture. On top of that, his wealth of experience in developing young players at the junior level is another highlight on his resume.
At this point, McCrimmon might be one of the best external candidates to become the Oilers next GM or for any NHL team looking for one.
However, things might get tricky as the Golden Knights refused to let any teams talk to McCrimmon until their playoff run is over.
Depending on how far they go, the timing might make things tight in Edmonton.
Generally speaking, a new GM may mean new coaching staff and scouts as well. This could potentially limit the Oilers time to prepare for the draft and free agency this summer.
Bill Guerin Another Candidate
Bill Guerin might be another name on the list of potential GM candidates.
Guerin has been quietly building his resume over the past several years. He has been working as an assistant general manager for the Pittsburgh Penguins for the past five seasons.
He was part of the management staff that successfully helped the Penguins capture back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017.
Simply put, Guerin knows what it takes to build championship teams around star players (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin). Something, Peter Chiarelli wasn’t able to do in Edmonton with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
Aside from that, Guerin has also won championships as a player and spent time as a player development coach as well.
Adding these things together, potentially makes him a strong candidate. It seems like Guerin is ready to take the next step forward and become a GM of an NHL team.
Other Oilers General Manager Candidates
As we can see, the Oilers have a long list of candidates but the real question is whether they can find the right man for the job.
Only time will tell if their new GM can turn things around in Edmonton for McDavid and friends.