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Edmonton Oilers Management

The Edmonton Oilers have some decisions to make in the off-season, and not all of them are directly related to the on-ice product.

As noted previously at this site, Rob Daum's contract as assistant coach expires this season, and he has not yet been informed of whether or not he'll be back. Complicating matters is the persistent rumour that Kelly Buchberger will be promoted to an assistant coaching position with the Oilers- a position that Daum held last season.

To quote Jim Matheson's May 4th article:

If Rob Daum's not back as an Oilers assistant coach, they definitely want to keep him in the organization, somewhere, but if Kelly Buchberger comes up from <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Springfield, they have Jeff Truitt ready to take over the AHL club. So where does that put Daum? He loves coaching but the Oilers value his ability to analyze opposing players, and there would likely be a pro scouting position there, if he wanted it.

Given that the Oilers already have three professional scouts (that's one more than they have in all of Europe), one imagines that Daum might join the professional scouting crew and one of the pro scouts could be bumped over to amateur scouting. Buchberger would be promoted into Daum's position, and Truitt would take over at the AHL level.

The other rumoured change was reported by both Robin Brownlee and Joanne Ireland:

From Brownlee, April 8th:
Any chance Craig Simpson could leave the broadcast booth again to join the Oilers front office? I’m hearing there is. Simpson, who put down the microphone to serve as an assistant on MacTavish’s coaching staff, has a high-profile gig as the color man with Jim Hughson, but his ties to the Oilers are strong. Strong enough a position as assistant GM under Kevin Lowe might do it.

And from Ireland, April 9th:

Rumour has it that Craig Simpson, who left the Oilers staff last season to join the Hockey Night In Canada crew, will be returning as a member of the management team.<?xml:namespace prefix = o />
The assistant general manager's post, for what it's worth, was never filled after Scott Howson left for Columbus.

Simpson, despite the lackluster performance of the special teams under his watch, is a bright and analytical hockey man, a fellow who excelled academically wherever he went while in school, and a guy who showed a lot of character over the course of his NHL career. He'd likely be better suited to a management role than a coaching role, and he's certainly ambitious.

On the other hand, one might argue that somebody with more cap knowledge and a financial background might be better suited to the role, although personally I think the Oilers have addressed that to some degree with the hiring of Rick Olczyk. One wonders if Simpson or Prendergast would have the responsibility of being the primary guy dealing with the Springfield Falcons, and their GM Bruce Landon.

If all of these rumours work out, the Oilers team would look like this:

GM - Kevin Lowe, Asst. GM- Craig Simpson, VP. Operations- Kevin Prendergast
NHL Coach - MacTavish, Assistants- Charlie Huddy, Bill Moores, Kelly Buchberger
AHL GM - Bruce Landon
AHL Coach - Jeff Truitt, Assistants- Dave Bell, ?
ECHL Coach- Chris Cichocki, Assistant - ?

This would leave two assistant jobs open. The ECHL job seems likely to be taken by retiring defenseman Tim O'Connell, and the AHL assistant job will probably go to either an accomplished junior coach or another former Oiler. Rem Murray hasn't retired yet, so junior coaches everywhere should be working on their resumes.

The big thing I dislike here is the rumoured Buchberger-Daum swap. If Daum is so valuable at analyzing players, bump him into a management position or keep him coaching. Beyond apprenticing Buchberger for an eventual head coaching gig, what does promoting him do? Certainly many of these ex-Oilers are quality guys with a decent skillset, but are they really the most qualified candidates out there? Would a guy like Nonis or Armstrong be better as an assistant GM than Simpson? My guesses- probably not and probably.

UPDATE: We can probably put the Simpson rumours to rest. In Rob Tychowski's column the day after I posted this, Lowe said the following about the Simpson rumours:

"No, that's craziness, total craziness. One minute he's going to be president, the next minute he's going to be assistant general manager. I don't know who started that, but there's nothing to it whatsoever. You can rest assured that he will not be a part of the organization next year."

Lowe also praised Rob Daum, while stating that he would not be returning as an assistant coach, but that he would like to keep him in the organization in a different capacity. Tychowski hints at Buchberger for the vacant position, but Lowe is not quoted.