Now that it has been decided George McPhee’s contract will not be renewed, the Capitals will begin a search for the sixth general manager in franchise history. Whoever is selected will hold the distinction of being the first general manager hired by owner Ted Leonsis for either his NHL or NBA franchise, which he bought in 1999 and 2010 respectively.
Related story: McPhee, Oates will not return to the Capitals
Here are some possible candidates for the GM position:
Jim Benning, assistant general manager, Boston Bruins
Age: 50 | Home town: Edmonton, Alberta
Benning is in his eighth season with the Bruins, his seventh as assistant general manager after one year as director of player personnel. Prior to joining Peter Chiarelli’s staff, he spent 12 seasons with Buffalo that included an eight-year tenure as their director of amateur scouting. Given his scouting background, Benning is a respected talent evaluator at all levels of the game.
He has been rumored as a candidate for the GM spot in Vancouver and earlier this season he interviewed with the Sabres, who ultimately hired Tim Murray as general manager.
Craig Billington, assistant general manager, Colorado Avalanche
Age: 47 | Home town: London, Ontario
The former Capitals netminder is in his 12th year in Colorado’s front office, a stretch that includes serving as assistant GM four out of the last five years as the Avalanche repeatedly reshaped their management staff.
Billington served as goaltending coach, director of player development and then a combination of assistant general manager and vice president of hockey operations beginning in 2009 when Greg Sherman was named general manager. He closed out his 15-year playing career in Washington and, recently, several with previous ties to the organization have come back into the fold.
Jason Botterill, assistant general manager, Pittsburgh Penguins
Age: 37 | Home town: Edmonton, Alberta
One of the youngest possible candidates but considered one of the league’s rising management stars, Botterill has spent five seasons as Ray Shero’s deputy. In addition to working with the NHL team that role includes serving as GM for Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He spent the two previous years overseeing salary cap management and the scouting staff as the Penguins’ director of hockey administration.
A first-round draft pick by the Dallas Stars in 1994, Botterill appeared in only 88 NHL games before a series of concussions forced him to retire in 2004-05.
Julien BriseBois, assistant general manager, Tampa Bay Lightning
Age: 37 | Home town: Greenfield Park, Quebec
BriesBois has managed the salary cap and collective bargaining agreement details in three years with the Lightning while also serving as GM for the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals, who won the Calder Cup in 2012. Prior to joining Tampa Bay, he spent nine seasons in Montreal holding positions including director of legal affairs, director of hockey operations and GM of the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs.
His biggest strength is his legal background. Before he joined an NHL team, BriseBois represented NHL and MLB teams in arbitration hearings and helped reform the constitution of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Paul Fenton, assistant general manager, Nashville Predators
Age: 54 | Home town: Springfield, Mass.
He’s held a critical role in Nashville since the team came into existence, 16 years ago, serving as director of player personnel for the first eight years before being promoted to assistant GM in 2006. Heavily involved in the Predators’ drafting and development of young players, Fenton manages the professional and amateur scouting staffs and serves as GM of the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals.
Fenton, who appeared in 411 NHL games for seven different teams as a player, is a high profile, experienced and highly regarded option whose track record with developing players through the draft is an asset.
Laurence Gilman, assistant general manager, Vancouver Canucks
Age: 49 | Home town: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Gilman has spent five seasons with the Canucks, serving as the team’s main negotiator on all player contracts, CBA expert, salary cap-ologist and the head of amateur scouting. He joined Vancouver after 13 seasons with the Winnipeg/Phoenix franchise during which he was assistant general manager, director of hockey operations, director of hockey administration and legal counsel.
With a strong legal background and experience working with two franchises that approach building a team completely differently, Gilman is a strong candidate for any open position. That includes the vacant general manager spot in Vancouver.
Ron Hextall, assistant general manager, Philadelphia Flyers
Age: 49 | Home town: Brandon, Manitoba
The fiery former goaltender has spent eight years as an assistant general manager and many believe he is ready to take the next step when the right opportunity emerges. Prior to the 2013-14 season with the Flyers, Hextall served seven seasons with the Los Angeles Kings as they rebuilt themselves into a Stanley Cup champion (2012) and perennial playoff team.
In addition to 608 games of NHL playing experience and a Vezina Trophy, Hextall has three years experience as a pro scout and four years as director of pro player personnel with the Flyers on his resume as well. This summer he will serve as an assistant GM for Canada at the IIHF World championships.
Claude Loiselle, assistant general manager, Toronto Maple Leafs
Age: 50 | Home town: Ottawa
A hybrid candidate with the experience of 616 NHL games played and a law degree at his disposal, Loiselle has spent the past four seasons in Toronto and previously held the same post with Tampa Bay from 2005 to ’09. He’s the Leafs’ CBA expert and capologist and plays a significant role in contract negotiations and scouting as well.
Loiselle also worked with the league as associate director of hockey operations, which included arbitration hearings, discipline and collective bargaining. In an interview with the National Post three years ago, Loiselle made his aspirations clear: “I want to be a GM, I feel I’m going to be a GM.” The question is simply when and where.
Brian MacLellan, assistant general manager Washington Capitals
Age: 55 | Home town: Guelph, Ontario
As assistant GM the last seven seasons, MacLellan weighs in on player decisions, travels with the team to provide a second opinion on the Capitals, oversees the pro scouting staff and works with the AHL’s Hershey Bears as well. In his first six years with Washington, MacLellan served as a pro scout and then director of player personnel.
A Stanley Cup winner with Calgary in 1989, he played 606 games during a 10-year NHL career. But he also has a long history with outgoing McPhee – the two were college teammates at Bowling Green – and the Capitals could choose to start fresh.