Rating the Capitals' GM candidates

Rating the Capitals' GM candidates
May 24, 2014, 12:15 pm
Share This Post

With the NHL draft now five weeks away, the Capitals are one of two NHL teams [Pittsburgh Penguins] without a general manager and one of four NHL teams [Canucks, Hurricanes, Panthers] without a head coach.

Could the Caps fill both of those positions in the upcoming week?

If so, who are the two men most likely to get the jobs?

Ray Shero, Paul Fenton and Don Sweeney are believed to be the three leading candidates as the Caps’ next general manager, with Caps assistant GM Brian MacLellan also believed to be under consideration.

Barry Trotz is by far the leading candidate as the Caps’ next head coach, with John Stevens, Tom Renney, Kirk Muller, Willie Desjardins and potentially Dan Bylsma and Jacques Martin as other candidates.

So which direction will the Capitals take?

In the world of sports, perception rarely meets reality, but in this case it might.

The tandem of Shero and Trotz would be the most popular among Caps fans and in terms of experience it is probably the best, and likely most expensive, option for the Caps.

Today, we’ll provide a brief background on the Caps’ four potential general managers. On Sunday we’ll examine some potential head coaches.

Ray Shero

Age: 51

Hometown: St. Paul, Minn.

NHL experience: In eight years as general manager of the Penguins, Shero guided the Pens to the playoffs every spring. Only the Detroit Red Wings  [23] and San Jose Sharks [9] have been the post-season more consecutive seasons. Under Shero the Penguins have been to three Eastern Conference finals, two Stanley Cup Finals and won the Stanley Cup in 2008. Prior to working in Pittsburgh Shero served as an assistant to Nashville Predators general manager David Poile from 1998-2006. He also served as an assistant general manager of the Ottawa Senators from 1993-98.

Background: Shero played center for St. Lawrence University and captained the team from 1983-85. He was drafted 216th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in 1982 but never played in the NHL.

Strengths: Interpersonal skills with players, agents and other general managers, his vast knowledge of NHL talent, his willingness to take risks at the NHL trade deadline and his ability to manage star players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin.

Weaknesses: A spotty track record with draft picks and his trouble handling the NHL salary cap in Pittsburgh, where Crosby, Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury consume 35 percent of the Penguins’ payroll.

Don Sweeney

Age: 47

Hometown: St. Stephen, New Brunswick

NHL experience: Sweeney has spent eight seasons in the Boston Bruins front office, the past as an assistant under Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. Following a 16-year playing career, Sweeney joined the Bruins as their director of player development, responsible for scouting pro leagues and tracking the progress of the Bruins’ prospects. One year later he was elevated to director of hockey operations and player development and in 2010 he was  he was promoted to to assistant general manager, where he worked closely with Chiarelli and Jim Benning, who was hired as general manager of the Canucks.

Background: Sweeney played four years at Harvard University, where he was and NCAA East All-American and an ECAC First Team All-Star as a senior in 1988. He played in more than 1,100 NHL games in 16 seasons, 15 of them with the Bruins. He reached the Stanley Cup Finals as a rookie in 1990, where the Bruins lost to the Edmonton Oilers. He finally had his name inscribed on the Stanley Cup in 2011. Sweeney also worked as the Dean of Admissions at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., and as a Bruins color analyst for NESN before joining the Bruins’ front office.

Strengths: Player development, pro scouting.

Weaknesses: No experience as NHL general manager.

Paul Fenton

Age: 54

Hometown: Springfield, Mass.

NHL experience: Fenton recently completed his 16th season as a member of the Nashville Predators’ front office, the past eight as an assistant general manager to David Poile. After serving as the director of player personnel  in his first eight seasons, Fenton was promoted to assistant GM, where he oversees the Predators’ amateur player development, manages the team’s professional and amateur scouting staff and advises Poile on player personnel decisions. He has assisted in player acquisitions and from 2003-08 directed a draft strategy that produced Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, Kevin Klein and Alexander Sulzer.

Before joining the Predators Fenton spent five seasons in the Anaheim Ducks’ hockey operations department, serving as a scout during his first three seasons with the Ducks and as the chief pro scout the last two years.

Background: After graduating from BostonUniversity in 1982, Fenton played eight seasons and 411 games in the NHL for the Hartford Whalers, New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks, compiling 100 goals and 83 assists.

Strengths: Scouting, player development, drafting.

Weaknesses: No experience as NHL general manager.

Brian MacLellan

Age: 55

Hometown: Guelph, Ontario

NHL experience: In his 13 seasons with the Capitals, MacLellan has gone virtually unnoticed as the team’s assistant general manager, player personnel. MacLellan served as a pro scout for the Caps from 2000-03 and was promoted to director of player personnel, assisting and advising George McPhee in all player-related matters. MacLellan also oversees the Caps’ pro scouting staff and works closely with the Hershey Bears.

Background: MacLellan had a 10-year NHL career as a forward, winning the Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames in 1989. He also played for the Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and Detroit Red Wings. In 606 NHL games he recorded 172 goals, 241 assists and 413 points. 

MacLellan attended Bowling GreenStateUniversity from 1978-82, where he graduated with a bachelor of science in business administration. MacLellan earned his MBA in finance from the University of St. Thomas in 1995 and went on to work for an investment consulting firm in Minneapolis before joining the Capitals as a pro scout.

Strengths: Familiarity with the Capitals organization and willingness to retain the current staff in place.

Weaknesses: No NHL experience as a general manager. Potential for only minor changes to team's culture.