How Does the Oilers GM Search Affect the Leafs?

This week the Oilers took drastic measures and relieved Peter Chiarelli of General Managers duties. Since the Oilers are rarely capable of comprehending what is their best interest, it stands to reason that they certainly haven’t considered what most of the hockey world is anxious to know, and that is how it affects the Leafs.

Luckily for the Oilers, I’m more than happy to do the heavy lifting on this and look at some of their GM candidates and weigh the pros and cons of them strictly from a Leafs perspective. This should allow them to make the best decision, as well as prepare all of you for what comes next for the Leafs. “You’re welcome”s all around.

Let’s look at the candidates…

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Kelly McCrimmon

Kelly McCrimmon was a highly touted GM/owner of the Brandon Wheat Kings for many years, and most recently has played an important role as the assistant general manager of the Vegas Golden Knights. He’s regarded as having some of the best eyes for talent in the game and considered likely to be a GM somewhere in the league next season if it’s not Edmonton, with Seattle being the most likely destination.

How it affects the Leafs?

McCrimmon not winding up in the Eastern Conference is a plus. So that’s an immediate benefit for the Leafs. The fact that a competent individual like Kelly won’t be running the expansion draft for Seattle improves the chances of the Leafs not having to give up a worthwhile player as well. The Oilers selecting McCrimmon certainly eliminates the schadenfreude factor many of us look for in a potential Oilers GM, but at the end of the day keeping talent out West might be more important.

Brian Burke

Brian Burke has publicly said that he is not interested in the Oilers gig, which means two things…

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  1. Brian Burke knows that no one is interested in interviewing him for the job OR
  2. Brian Burke is just being as honest as he usually is.

How it affects the Leafs?

It’s always more fun being on the outside of watching Brian Burke making promises he can’t possibly keep. We’ll get the schadenfreude factor of knowing that Burke will likely never trade or buyout Milan Lucic, and once the Ducks fire Randy Carlyle, you better believe that he’ll be named the Oilers head coach soon after.

The downside is that Burke really likes Jake Gardiner and will take the steps in free agency to make him the richest defenseman in the league, this might actually be a plus side for a lot of you reading this now that I think of it.

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Doug Armstrong

Armstrong is the current GM of the St. Louis Blues, but that doesn’t change the fact that Pierre LeBrun listed him as a possibility for the role, likely based on Bobby Nick’s Hockey Canada connections. Armstrong has done a pretty good job of keeping the Blues competitive for a number of years, and would certainly be an upgrade for the Oilers.

How it affects the Leafs?

Armstrong has a roster that includes Alex Steen, Tyler Bozak, Nikita Soshnikov, and Carl Gunnarsson, so you know he has eyes on the Leafs at all time. There are worse things than finding an out of conference trade partner in dire need of a complete overhaul, especially when we’re sitting on all this Nikita Zaitsev we don’t know what to do with.

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Dave Nonis

There will certainly be a theme of former Leafs personnel on this list, and I assure you that all of these names have been floated as options for Edmonton. Of course, Nonis had his name floated by his cousin Darren Dreger, but that’s the kind of nepotism that the Oilers Entertainment Group has embraced for decades, so we’ll consider Nonis a front runner. Nonis’ track record includes making a Canucks team he inherited from Brian Burke worse, making a Leafs team he inherited from Brian Burke worse, and being tucked away into a small office in Anaheim only to reemerge whenever a GM opening exists and Dreger gets a call from his aunt.

How it affects the Leafs?

After watching Nonis destroy the Leafs, don’t we deserve the opportunity to watch him ruin another team? He might also hire Dave Poulin, and getting Poulin off of the radio is a huge win for Toronto as well. Plus there’s always hope that someone like Nonis or Burke still has some fondness for Freddie Gauthier and will overpay for him.

Ken Holland

Ken Holland has been in Detroit since back when GM still built cars there. Most of the transactions Holland would want you to remember him for have already been inducted into the hockey hall of fame. Instead now he’s the guy who got in a bidding war with himself over Frans Nielsen and has offered depth defensemen and third line forwards contracts that would make Lou Lamoriello blush.

How it affects the Leafs?

As hilarious as it would be have an out of touch dinosaur like Holland throw money at character in Edmonton, I think most of us can agree it’s better he does that in the Leafs division. It’s also better he sticks around Detroit because replacing him with Steve Yzerman should terrify everyone. For the Leafs, Ken Holland is probably the worst case scenario, although if the Leafs ever move on from Babcock, you better believe he’ll be the guy who brings him in and saves MLSE from having to pay out the remaining money owed on his contract.

John Ferguson Jr.

I saw his name pop up in exactly one place, but that’s enough for me to include him on this list. In hindsight we can say that he was told to captain a sinking ship after taking over for Quinn, and he was at the mercy of a very hands on Richard Peddie, that lead him to make some foolish deals, but still, fuck this guy forever because of Raycroft and Toskala.

How it affects the Leafs?

There’s a lot of hope that he’ll be as bad as he once was for Toronto, and given the too many cooks situation in Edmonton, he’s likely to be pressured into some equally stupid deals in Edmonton. Most of the benefit for Leafs fans will come from watching history repeat itself, and also knowing that when McDavid’s contract expires there’s a pretty good chance he’ll consider Toronto as an option.

Pierre McGuire

Now GM list is ever complete without putting Pierre McGuire on it. I can’t imagine anyone actually takes this guy seriously, but the world of hockey men is strange, and half the guys working in the league right now would be bounced out of any competently run organization.

How it affects the Leafs?

For Leafs fans, tuning into the NBC feed of games will be more appealing. Also, McGuire is an absolute wild card and has the potential to complete some of the most bat shit crazy moves in recent history (Peter Chiarelli excluded). He’s the ultimate watch the world burn option, and who can’t support that?

Mark Hunter

You all knew we were going to get to Mark eventually. Hunter, along with Kelly McCrimmon has had his name tossed around the Edmonton rumour mill the most at this point. Where McCrimmon seems like the best option if the Oilers are willing to wait and try and find a GM after the season, Mark Hunter is the guy that seems to be the front runner of the “hire now” options.

Hunter’s track record as a “premiere” talent evaluator in Toronto is a thing that exists and I’m perfectly fine with letting other teams focus on Marner and ignoring Yegor Korshkov, Keaton Middleton, the weird collection of WHL overagers, and of course Nicholas Mattinen.

Hunter alongside Dubas was being groomed by Lou Lamoriello for a GM role, and the Islanders have won enough this season that “Lamoriello prodigy” still carries some weight.

How it affects the Leafs?

Hoooooooooooooo doggy, there will be an affect.

  1. We can really ramp up those Zaitsev to the Oilers rumours. Frankly this is my sole reason for wanting Hunter to get this gig.
  2. There’s probably a lot of second tier prospects we can dump on the Oilers as well in this situation. Imagine a Zaitsev, Brown and Korshkov deal netting a worthwhile return instead of a salary dump?
    The Leafs have a number of questionable Hunter picks kicking around on their unsigned reserve list. Here’s hoping that Hunter wants to acquire O’Connell, Kara, Chebykin, Rasanen, and Greenway which all have the stink of a Hunter miss.
  3. Not really a positive impact, in fact it’s a pretty negative one, we’ll all have to suffer through forced Hunter vs. Dubas narratives in the media, likely driven by a Mr. S. Simmons, wait that’s too obvious, let’s call him Steve S.
  4. The Oilers will draft all the London Knights and maybe Ontario folks will lose interest in that trash team.

The Rest…

We’ve touched on the main candidates, but I guess we need to float a few of the other qualified names like…

  • Steve Yzerman (not going to happen)
  • Mike Gillis (will be a good reminder that people have been overrating him)
  • Mike Futa (I think he just likes going to job interviews)
  • Bill Guerin (More ex-Oilers please)
  • Norm McIvor (see above)
  • Sean Burke (LOL)

Pretty much any option that isn’t Yzerman won’t improve the Oilers, and pretty much any new GM brings one of the main impacts on the Leafs, and that is that there will be a new GM who needs to quickly make their mark on team that should be in its competitive window, and has a fanbase that is tired of being told to be patient. The Oilers need change and the Leafs will need to shed some salary this summer. Hopefully this will benefit Toronto.

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  • I’m not sure how people overrate Mike Gillis as he seems pretty much persona non-grata in the hockey world, but he’d be a fantastic and hilarious fit with the Leafs. He took a Canucks team with a nucleus of great talent that had been badly mismanaged by Dave Nonis and turned it into the best team in the NHL through a series of shrewd management decisions. Yes drafting was terrible under his regime, but his free agent signings, trades (Ballard excepted) and internal re-signings have been some of the best in the modern NHL.

    Plus he has zero tolerance for Old Boys Club nonsense and totally despises Chiarelli-style “heavy hockey” so he’d be immediately at loggerheads with Lowe & the Boys, which would be hilarious.