April 8, 2019 5:06 pm

Bob Nicholson dives into search for next Edmonton Oilers GM

WATCH ABOVE: The Edmonton Oilers wrapped up their season Saturday night. Shaye Ganam sits down with Quinn Phillips, Reid Wilkins and Jay Downton of Oilers Nation for an end-of-season assessment.


The man who will be hiring the next Edmonton Oilers general manager sat next to the man who wants to be the next Edmonton Oilers general manager on Monday as the two reflected on the end of the Oilers season.

“I do want to be the GM,” said Keith Gretzky, who has been the team’s interim manager since Peter Chiarelli was fired Jan. 22. “You have to accept the process and move forward. Right now, it’s about the team. We have to get ready for the draft.”

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“Keith has built his own resume,” said Oilers Entertainment Group vice-chair Bob Nicholson. “I have really liked the job Keith has done in the interim, but that certainly doesn’t mean that puts him up at the front of the list.

“There is no priority now of everyone that we’re interviewing.”

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Nicholson will hire a general manager at some point this spring, likely before the draft begins on June 21. He’s looking a long list of candidates, though he could soon start interviews, even with those currently employed by other NHL teams.

“I got a lot more leeway on who I can interview than I thought I would,” said Nicholson. “There might be a road block or two, but most of the general managers and organizations have been very good, and I’ll get to have those discussions right away.”

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With Nicholson emphasizing it’ll be a thorough search, Gretzky wasn’t hesitant to push his qualifications.

“I have the knowledge of being around for three years. I know what’s in our system,” said Gretzky. “I think being around for two-and-a-half months every day, and watching practice and games, you have a better handle of players themselves. Not just the hockey player, but off ice I think it’s very important to have a rapport with them.”

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After replacing Todd McLellan on Nov. 20, Ken Hitchcock remains the head coach — for now.

“When we signed Ken, it was to be the head coach until the end of the year. That is up at this time. Ken’s well aware of that,” said Nicholson. “Ken will be with this organization in some fashion. Will he be the head coach? That will be determined as we name the general manager.”

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Captain Connor McDavid had an MRI on Sunday after crashing into the goal post with his left leg Saturday night in Calgary.

“We just keep on it and make sure it’s improving everyday,” said Gretzky.

“We can’t go too far in it. We’re still evaluating it, but it’s not as serious as we thought,” said Nicholson.

The NHL draft lottery will be held Tuesday night. The Oilers have a 6.5 per cent chance of winning the first overall pick.

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