The Seattle expansion team now has a third member of their hockey operations department. The club has hired Ricky Olczyk as an assistant general manager, serving under GM Ron Francis. Olczyk spent last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but has previous experience as an assistant GM alongside Francis with the Carolina Hurricanes and served for several years in the same capacity with the Edmonton Oilers. He’ll join Francis and director of hockey administration Alexandra Mandrycky in the expansion team’s front office for the time being.
Bringing in Francis with so much runway before their inaugural season in 2021-22 gave the Seattle group the ability to slowly watch the market and pounce on front office candidates that may come available, but the first hire is one that comes with plenty of familiarity. Olczyk (who is the brother of former NHL player Ed Olczyk) spent four years beside Francis with the Hurricanes, slowly building the foundation for the team that broke out last season and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Carolina minor league and development system was extremely strong during that time, though much of that credit has to go to former Charlotte Checkers coach and GM Mike Vellucci, who is now with the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.
Even including that run with the Hurricanes however, Olczyk’s time as an NHL assistant GM hasn’t been very successful. Hired by the Oilers in 2007, Olcyzk was part of an organization that had continual turnover and that failed to reach the postseason in any of his six years with the team. In fact, given that the Hurricanes only made the playoffs after he left the organization, Olczyk’s career as an AGM still doesn’t have a single postseason appearance in it. The blame for both team’s failures obviously can’t be placed on Olcyzk alone, but he’ll have to hope that a fresh start in Seattle will bring more success.