Oilers living in the now when it comes to their GM dilemma

Even with the uncertainty surrounding the general manager position in Edmonton and the NHL draft fast approaching, the Oilers are taking a day-by-day approach.
2019 NHL Draft - Round One
2019 NHL Draft - Round One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Whilst personally having no issue with the schedule for this season's Stanley Cup Final potentially running so late into June, it's objectively appreciated that for some (many) this is an issue. In fact you can include the Edmonton Oilers among those facing challenges, by virtue of competing with the Florida Panthers for the best trophy in all of North American professional sport.

The reason for this comes down to the uncertainty surrounding the future of Ken Holland as Oilers general manager, and how this could impact their approach to the 2024 NHL entry draft. Particularly if he decides to leave once the Stanley Cup Final schedule has been completed, or if a contract extension cannot be agreed with the Oilers.

Consider that if the Stanley Cup Final goes the distance, the seventh and deciding game will take place on Monday, June 24. This would in turn leave just three days until this year's draft begins on Friday, June 28.

No one to replace Ken Holland

This was all broken down by Elliotte Friedman, during Monday's edition of the 32 Thoughts Podcast. The Sportsnet hockey journalist explained that if Holland decides to leave -- a distinct possibility with the chance to go out on top if the Oilers win the cup -- this will not leave nearly enough time to conduct a thorough search for his successor as general manager in Edmonton.

The same scenario will hold true, if the Oilers decide for whatever reason that it's best to move on from the Hall of Famer. Or if the two sides just can't agree on the terms for a new deal.

As Friedman notes, in any case where Holland does indeed leave, the Oilers would need to lean heavily on their scouting staff to get them through the draft. Certainly this isn't a positive situation, even allowing for the organisation only having one pick in the first four rounds. (Or maybe because the other five picks they have are so late on in the draft, in rounds five to seven.)

Given how this could all play out, you would assume the Oilers are feeling a sense of urgency to have everything sorted ahead of the draft in Las Vegas. However, you would be wrong.

Jeff Jackson not feeling the pressure

This surprising revelation was made by the Oilers' CEO of hockey operations, Jeff Jackson, in a candid interview with The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun. Jackson said: "We’re not dealing with any of that until we’re done the playoffs. It can’t be any sort of speculation or discussion that’s going to be a distraction from the team. We’re operating day to day."

In fact Jackson took it a stage further, by preferring to focus on the positives surrounding this entire situation. He said: "The hockey-ops group is very in sync and together all the time. We’re on the road having dinner and doing what we do. And being with the coaches. We’re not going to change any of that, because it’s working. The timing of everyone is unfortunate just because it’s all jammed up the way it’s played out this year. But I’ll deal with that. And it’s a good problem to have."

Officially speaking, Holland's current contract doesn't expire until June 30, a day after the draft is completed. However, the assumption is that if he's leaving for whatever reason, he wouldn't be expected to oversee this year's selections for the Oilers.

It all makes for an intriguing situation, with Holland having entered the 2023-24 campaign under intense scrutiny and having received plenty of criticism, due to not helping the Oilers win the Stanley Cup. Now, he finds himself just four wins away from immortality in Edmonton, which would in turn leave him in strong demand and having more control over what he wanted to do moving forward.

Next. Three dragons slayed by the Oilers and one more to go. Three dragons slayed by the Oilers and one more to go. dark

Overall though, as much as Jackson claims he's living in the now and alluding to not being concerned about the GM situation, it's tough to believe the organisation don't have some sort of succession plan in the event Holland does leave, even if it's just a temporary fix. Ultimately the Oilers will be just fine, although how forgiving the fans will be for the alleged claim of not looking ahead, will likely be dependant on if the teams does manage to win the Stanley Cup or not.

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