Kelly McCrimmon knows hockey. Las Vegas is getting an NHL team next season and according to Guy Flaming from The Pipeline Show, McCrimmon may be George McPhee's assistant GM next season.
McCrimmon is the owner, GM and coach of the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings, a powerhouse team that won the championship this past season and has frequently gone on deep playoff runs. In the past few seasons alone, McCrimmon has developed NHLers such as Brayden Schenn, Mark Stone and Ryan Pulock, plus prospects Jayce Hawryluk, John Quenneville and Ivan Provorov.
What makes the Las Vegas news so interesting is that McCrimmon's latest star, center Nolan Patrick, could be the first overall pick in 2017 – a selection Las Vegas could win via the lottery (the franchise will have the same odds as the team with the third-fewest points).
And talent hasn't just fallen into McCrimmon's lap in Brandon; he's been savvy with trades. Back in 2012, he sent Brenden Walker to Saskatoon in a deal that allowed the Wheat Kings to flip 2014 first-rounders with the Blades. Saskatoon ended up with the first pick overall, which McCrimmon then gladly took off their hands, as per his right. The prize was center Stelio Mattheos, another 2017 NHL draft prospect.
McCrimmon also got a ton of futures back when he traded Schenn the year Saskatoon was hosting the Memorial Cup, netting three first-rounders and a second-rounder. Another part of the deal? Tim McGauley, who went on to lead the Wheat Kings in scoring in 2014-15 and help them win the WHL this past season. McGauley is now a Washington Capitals prospect.
But he's not just a smart hockey man. As Gregg Drinnan points out, McCrimmon holds business degrees from the University of Michigan (where he played after his own 'Dub' career) and Queen's University in Ontario. In an NHL where numbers and negotiations have become of the utmost importance, McCrimmon's education will come in handy.
So while this is not a done deal right now, it's a very logical move for McPhee. McCrimmon has been courted before (by the Maple Leafs) and turned it down. But with the WHL championship this past season, he's been to the top of the mountain. And he wouldn't even have to give up ownership in Brandon – look at Mark Hunter, who has dual allegiance to the London Knights team he owns in the OHL and the Toronto team he works for in the NHL.
While Brandon is a great place to be on top, the challenge of starting an NHL team from scratch is pretty enticing.