After Mike Gillis’ stunning fall from grace — fired 33 months after winning the NHL’s GM of the Year award — there’s now one major question facing Vancouver:
Who’s replaces him?
A shortlist of candidates for your consideration…
The former Canuck captain has his No. 19 hanging from the Rogers Arena rafters and boasts some front office experience, having recently resigned as GM of Swedish League outfit MoDo. Walking away from that gig sparked rumors that a move to Vancouver was in the cards but, as of today, Naslund offered no comment as to whether he’d be joining the organization in any capacity.
(It’s worth noting that another ex-Canuck, Trevor Linden, has seen his name appear in connection with a potential front-office gig, though reportedly as team president.)
Gillis’ assistant and right-hand man in Vancouver for the last six years, Gilman has been Vancouver’s “capologist” — the numbers guy, praised for his ability to keep the team under the cap and having negotiated some of the club’s better financial deals. Gilman has extensive NHL front office experience, having served as assistant GM in Phoenix for five years before moving to the Canucks.
Gilman has reportedly been told he’ll be retained Vancouver.
David Poile’s assistant in Nashville has long been considered the next quality GM in waiting. The Poile managerial tree has already produced current Pens GM Ray Shero — winner of the 2013 NHL General Manger of the Year Award — and Fenton is largely credited with leading Nashville’s drafts from 2003-08, during which time they selected Shea Weber, Pekka Rinne, Kevin Klein and Patric Hornqvist.
Botterill currently serves as Shero’s assistant in Pittsburgh and, like Gilman in Vancouver, is known as the Pens’ cap specialist and has been instrumental in designing deals to keep a number of Pittsburgh’s high-priced players in place. He was interviewed for the vacant Buffalo GM gig that eventually went to Tim Murray.
The assistant GM in San Jose, Will received high praise from Doug Wilson upon being promoted from director of hockey ops in 2011, and sounds like a jack-of-all-trades:
One of his most important duties involves the tracking, analyzing and projecting of the team’s player payroll relative to the current and future National Hockey League salary cap to give the team the financial flexibility to ice a championship-caliber team each season.
Will also works with the organization’s professional scouts and management team in player research for expansion, waivers, free agency and trades. His expert analysis of economic trends in the NHL has led to the Sharks acquisition and retention of several key veteran players over his time with the club.
The general consensus around Will is that he’s largely responsible for finding value players as well as unearthing talent. The likes of Tommy Wingels (6th round, 2008), Jason Demers (7th round pick, 2008), Matt Irwin (undrafted) and Justin Braun (7th round, 2007) are good examples of that handiwork.
– Tom Fitzgerald, assistant to the general manager (Shero) in Pittsburgh.
– Julien BriseBois, Steve Yzerman’s assistant in Tampa Bay.
— Don Sweeney, Peter Chiarelli’s assistant in Boston.
— Jim Benning, another of Chiarelli’s assistants in Boston, that also played in Vancouver from 1988-90.
— Norm Maciver, Stan Bowman’s assistant in Chicago.
— Ron Hextall, Paul Holmgren’s assistant in Philly.
— Mike Futa, L.A.’s director of scouting.
— Jay Feaster, former Calgary and Tampa Bay GM.