The Edmonton Oilers will not be hiring Vegas Golden Knights assistant general manger Kelly McCrimmon. That’s because the Golden Knights have promoted him to GM, while George McPhee will remain as President of Hockey Operations. Team owner Bill Foley released a statement:
This is a very exciting announcement for our club and Vegas Golden Knights fans around the world. George and Kelly are a fantastic team. From the mock draft exercises and preparation leading up to the Expansion Draft, building out our coaching staff, and continually improving our team through the draft, trades, signings and free agency, the work they have done over the last three years has been remarkable. Together they have constructed a championship-caliber team in a very short time. This personnel move ensures that our hockey operations group stays intact and positions our organization for long term success.
The Golden Knights have experienced unprecedented success for an expansion team, and a huge part of that has been the work that McCrimmon did as assistant GM. McPhee and McCrimmon were almost flawless in their execution of the expansion draft strategy that netted them players like Jon Marchessault, Shea Theodore and Nate Schmidt, and turned that strategy into a Stanley Cup Final appearance in their first season.
A promotion like this ensures that McCrimmon stays with the Golden Knights, something that wasn’t so clear before the announcement. Edmonton who were reportedly interested in hiring McCrimmon for their front office vacancy, will now shift their focus somewhere else and perhaps back to interim GM Keith Gretzky. The team had wanted to interview several candidates for the opening, and have had at least two with former Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Mark Hunter. Hunter’s name is exactly who Darren Dreger of TSN suggests in a tweet, while also listing Gretzky and former NHL goaltender and Arizona Coyotes executive Sean Burke.
The next expansion franchise in Seattle will also have to cross McCrimmon’s name off the list, as they were another team with reported interest in bringing him aboard. That made a lot of sense given his experience in the process, but the new organization will have to find another way to navigate their expansion draft and inaugural season.