Even with the trade deadline looming, CEO Bob Nicholson and the Edmonton Oilers are not expected to move quickly in the search for their new general manager. During TSN’s “Insider Trading” segment, Darren Dreger states that there is “no rush” to fill the position and that the team will take their time in vetting all options.
Dreger goes on to say that “the Oilers know that they need to get this one right”, which is a major understatement. Recently-fired GM Peter Chiarelli left the team in a tough salary cap condition and without enough talent on the roster following several poor trade and signing decisions. His predecessors, Craig MacTavish and Steve Tambellini, were at the helm for a near decade-long postseason drought. So long as Connor McDavid is an Oiler, Edmonton will have a chance to make the playoffs year in and year out, but they haven’t helped to improve those odds of late and need to put an end to these wasted years of McDavid’s career. Finally solving the GM problem is the most important step toward pointing this team in the right direction.
In the meantime, interim GM Keith Gretzky is more than capable of handling day-to-day operations for some time. Although there continues to be speculation that the Oilers could be buyers leading up to the deadline, they trail five other teams for the final Western Conference wild card spot and could be a short string of losses away from falling it out of the race completely. Gretzky, whose background is in amateur scouting, would be far more adept at selling off impending free agents for picks and prospects rather than trying to add. He would also be very qualified to handle the college and junior free agent markets later this spring. And, if it reaches that point, Gretzky has run drafts for both the Arizona Coyotes and Boston Bruins in the past and would be a fine option for the Oilers on draft day if his full-time replacement has yet to be found. Gretzky was a wise choice by Nicholson and company as interim GM and should be a solid stopgap for the team as they take their time to make a vital decision for the franchise.