Now that the contract for former Capitals general manager George McPhee has not been renewed, here is a list of potential candidates to replace him, compiled from interviews with executives throughout the NHL:
Hometown: Melrose, Mass.
Current position: Director of scouting, San Jose Sharks
Background: Burke is a former NHL defenseman who has helped build the Sharks into a perennial Stanley Cup contender. Under his direction, the Sharks have been to the playoffs 10 straight seasons. Only the Detroit Red Wings [23 seasons] have been there more consecutive times. Patrick Marleau, Douglas Murray, Ryan Clowe, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture are among the NHL players that have been drafted and developed by Burke. After playing for years at the University of New Hampshire from 1973-77and retiring from professional hockey in 1983, the former AHL defenseman worked as an assistant coach at Princeton University and the New Jersey Devils and as a head coach of the AHL Utica Devils. His greatest strengths are drafting and developing players.
Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta
Current position: Assistant general manager, Boston Bruins
Background: Another former defenseman, Benning was a first-round draft pick [sixth overall] of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1981 and played 605 games over nine NHL seasons with the Leafs and Vancouver Canucks. He served as an amateur scout for the Anaheim Ducks from 1983-84 before joining the Buffalo Sabres, where he worked 10 years, first as a scout and then as the director of amateur scouting. In the summer of 2006 Benning was hired as an assistant general manager under Bruins GM Peter Chirarelli and was part of the management team that led the Bruins to a 2011 Stanley Cup. Like Burke, his greatest strength are drafting and developing players.
Hometown: Brandon, Manitoba
Current position: Assistant general manager, Philadelphia Flyers
Background: Caps fans may cringe at the thought of a former Flyer running the Capitals but Hextall has carved out a successful managerial career since retiring as an NHL goaltender in 1999. Hextall served as a pro scout for the Flyers for three years before being promoted to Director of Professional Player Development in 2004. Two years later Hextall was hired by the Los Angeles Kings as vice president and assistant general manager under Dean Lombardi and won the Stanley Cup in 2012. Hextall returned to Philadelphia last summer as assistant general manager and Director of Hockey Operations under Paul Holmgren. His greatest strengths are pro talent evaluation.
Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario
Current position: Assistant general manager, Toronto Maple Leafs
Background: A former forward for the Red Wings, Devils, Nordiques, Leafs and Islanders, Loiselle was hired as assistant general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1994, serving as general manager of the AHL Norfolk Admirals, then spent seven years with the NHL as Associate Director of Hockey Operations. Loiselle was hired by Brian Burke as the Leafs’ assistant GM in 2010. His future in Toronto came into question with last week’s hiring of Brendan Shanahan.
Hometown: Springfield, Mass.
Current position: Assistant general manager, Nashville Predators
Background: A well-traveled NHL forward who played in Toronto, Nashville, Hartford, the New York Rangers, Los Angeles, Winnipeg, Calgary and San Jose from 1984-92, Fenton has served as an assistant GM under David Poile for the past eight seasons in Nashville. Under his direction the Predators have selected and developed defenseman Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. He also serves as general manager of the AHL Milwaukee Admirals. He also served as an associate GM for Team USA at the 2011 World Championships.
Hometown: Penticton, British Columbia
Current position: Recently stepped down as president and CEO of Hockey Canada
Background: Nicholson played hockey at Providence College but he rose to prominence as one of Hockey Canada’s top executives from 1990 through 2014, overseeing Canadian teams that won 66 medals in international competitions, including five Olympic gold medals. Nicholson was considered a candidate for the general manager’s vacancy in Vancouver before Trevor Linden was named the Canucks’ president and last week was tied to reports of replacing McPhee in Washington.
Hometown: London, Ontario
Current position: Vice president of player development, Colorado Avalanche
Background: A former goaltender who played 15 years in the NHL, Billington spent parts of four seasons with the Capitals before retiring as a player in 2002. Upon his retirement he joined the front office staff of the Avalanche, overseeing the quick rebuild of a franchise that, with the help of young forwards Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly and Nathan MacKinnon, finished third in the NHL this season with 112 points.
Hometown: Sudbury, Ontario
Current position: Former general manager, Vancouver Canucks
Background: A former NHL left wing who played from 1978-84 as a member of the Colorado Rockies and Boston Bruins, Gillis became a player agent and represented NHL stars Pavel Bure, Markus Naslund, Bobby Holik and Mike Richter before becoming general manager of the Canucks in 2008. Under Gillis the Canucks reached the playoffs in five straight seasons, falling to the Bruins in the seventh game of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. His teams were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in each of the past two seasons and he was relieved of his duties on April 8.
Hometown: Timmins, Ontario
Current position: Vice president of hockey operations, Toronto Maple Leafs
Background: Poulin played 13 seasons in the NHL with the Flyers, Bruins and Capitals, retiring after the 1994-95 season. He went on to coach the University of Notre Dame for 10 seasons and in 2009 he was hired by the Toronto Maple Leafs as their vice president of hockey operations and general manager of the AHL Toronto Marlies. Poulin has a keen business and hockey sense and could become expendable in Toronto with the recent hiring of Brendan Shanahan as its new president.
Hometown: Greenfield Park, Quebec
Current position: Assistant general manager, Tampa Bay Lightning
Background: A former executive with the Montreal Canadiens, BriseBois has made his mark as a young decision-maker for the Lightning, who hired him in 2010. BriseBois serves as Steve Yzerman’s right-hand man with all player personnel decisions and contract negotiations, as well as the day-to-day operations of the AHL Norfolk Admirals.