As the Washington Capitals move into the fourth week of their search for a new general manager, the pool of potential candidates is expected to shrink.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Tuesday that the Vancouver Canucks are set to name Jim Benning as general manager by the end of the week. After eight years as an assistant general manager in Boston and a solid talent evaluation background from time spent as a scout made Benning, 51, a top candidate to move into one of the vacant general manager roles around the league.
Since firing George McPhee and Adam Oates in late April, the Capitals have been interviewing for the front office opening and expressing interest in coaches with the priority of filling the former position first.
According to sources familiar with the search, Don Sweeney, also an assistant general manager with the Bruins, and Nashville assistant GM Paul Fenton have interviewed with Washington. It’s believed the Capitals have reached out to Ray Shero, who was fired by Pittsburgh Friday, as well.
Sweeney and Fenton would both be first-time general managers after extended time in NHL front offices. A former NHL defensemen who spent 16 years in the league and played 1,115 career games Sweeney, 47, just completed his eight season with the Bruins and fifth as an assistant GM. Fenton, 54, has spent 16 years with the Predators including the last eight as assistant GM and is well versed in helping a team build through the draft.
Then there’s Shero, 51, who is arguably the top candidate available given his eight years experience running an NHL team in Pittsburgh that included a Stanley Cup in 2009.
Rumors persist about the possibility of the Capitals bringing on Wayne Gretzky in a president of hockey operations role that would rank higher than general manager and prompt a restructuring of the front office.
But sources say Gretzky would want an ownership stake in the organization as well. It’s unknown whether majority owner Ted Leonsis would agree to such an arrangement. Leonsis has 18 ownership partners in Monumental Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Capitals, Wizards, Mystics and Verizon Center.