This weekend marks four weeks since the Capitals decided to trade in George McPhee and Adam Oates for a fresh set of eyes and a new voice. Only they haven’t yet decided to whom those eyes and voice will belong.
Four weeks into the Capitals’ search here’s what we can tell you:
Wayne Gretzky, who reportedly was interested in becoming team president with a minority interest in the team, is out of the mix, as is Jim Benning who was hired as the Vancouver Canucks’ general manager.
Still in the mix for the GM job are Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney, Nashville Predators assistant general manager Paul Fenton and ousted Penguins general manager Ray Shero, although it’s unclear if the Capitals have actually brought Shero in for an interview.
Barry Trotz is believed to be the only head coaching candidate that has interviewed with the Caps, an indication of the team’s interest in the 51-year-old former coach of the Predators.
Trotz has indicated he would like to see a general manager in place before selecting the team he would like to coach. He is considered a strong candidate for the job in Vancouver and may have interviewed for the job in Carolina as well.
Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis, who fired Kirk Muller as head coach on May 5, told the Raleigh News & Observer that he has conducted three interviews in his search for a coach and that three more interviews are coming soon. Francis has indicated he would like to have a new coach in place prior to the June 27-28 NHL draft in Philadelphia.
The Florida Panthers also are in the market for a head coach.
There could be a few things holding up the Capitals’ search for a new GM.
For one, the team believes it has one of the NHL’s top scouting directors in Ross Mahoney and there is concern that a new general manager may want to hire an entirely new scouting staff one month before the draft.
Under Mahoney the Capitals have a history of drafting well, from current NHLers Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Marcus Johansson and Braden Holtby to top prospects Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, Andre Burakovsky, Riley Barber and Madison Bowey.
Shero, on the other hand, had a spotty draft history in Pittsburgh. While the Pens have hit on players like Jordan Staal [second overall in 2006] and Olli Maatta [22nd overall in 2012], they may have missed badly on Angelo Esposito [20th overall in 2007] and the jury is still out on Simon Despres [30th overall in 2008] and Beau Bennett [20th in 2010].
In fact, since 2008, twelve different Caps draft picks have made it to the NHL, playing a combined 1,148 games. During that same period, seven Penguins draft picks have played a total of 240 NHL games.
Mahoney is a big reason for the Caps' success at the draft and it could be why the Caps want to keep him in the organization under a new general manager.
With eight years of experience running the Penguins, Shero likely would want to dictate who will be on his staff in his next NHL job.
Could Shero accept a position in Washington while keeping much of the team’s scouting staff intact? Possibly.
Would a less experienced candidate like Fenton or Sweeney be more willing to keep the Capitals’ scouting staff on board? Possibly.
With Pittsburgh being the only other NHL city without a general manager, the Caps have the luxury of taking their time finding a replacement for McPhee.
But with the draft looming and Trotz receiving interest from as many as three other teams, the Capitals may need to move quickly on a GM if they want to land the coach who likely sits at the top of their list.