Connor McDavid says this will be a pivotal offseason for the Edmonton Oilers.
"We don't even have a [general manager], so I don't think we're in any position to comment on next season," the captain said after a 3-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday that eliminated the Oilers from Stanley Cup Playoff contention for the second straight season. "We have a lot of [stuff] to figure out. I hope we can put the right man in the spot and we can put together a good team."
The Oilers, who have missed the postseason in 12 of the past 13 seasons, fired general manager Peter Chiarelli on Jan. 22. No replacement was named, with assistant GM Keith Gretzky taking on some of Chiarelli's duties. Bob Nicholson, Oilers Entertainment Group CEO and vice chair, is leading the search for the next GM.
The Oilers (34-36-9) are 13th in the Western Conference and 24th in the NHL with three games remaining.
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"It's just not good enough," said McDavid, who has an NHL career-high 115 points (41 goals, 74 assists) this season. "All year. We let [losing] streaks drag on, we let times where we weren't able to find wins drag on. You have to find a way to stop the bleeding, quick. There is a slim margin of error in this league. We did our best to stay in the fight, but it was a little too late."
The Oilers are the first NHL team since the 1989-90 Pittsburgh Penguins to have two 100-point scorers, McDavid and Leon Draisaitl (102 points), and not make the postseason.
The Penguins, who had Mario Lemieux (123 points) and Paul Coffey (103) in 1989-90, won the Stanley Cup the following season. The Oilers appear to have a lot to do before they can entertain a similar rags-to-riches story.
Once a GM is hired, the fate of coach Ken Hitchcock will be decided. The 67-year-old, who is the third-winningest coach in NHL history with 848 victories, is 25-26-8 since replacing Todd McLellan on Nov. 20.
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"Over the course of the next little while we have to figure out what we need to do to help these guys get better," Hitchcock said. "Whether it's personnel or whatever, we need to do whatever we can to help these guys get better."
The Oilers went 9-2-2 in Hitchcock's first 13 games but followed that with six straight losses in regulation to start a 5-13-2 stretch.
"It's been an insane season," McDavid said. "Good times and bad times. It's been a roller coaster. It's been emotionally challenging. It's been hard mentally to keep on going but we were always kind of right there. We were close and then we drifted away. That's the way it goes."
The 22-year-old center, who is in the first season of an eight-year, $100 million contract he signed July 5, 2017, made it clear such results will not be acceptable in the future.
"We want to play in the playoffs as a team. I personally want to play in the playoffs," said McDavid, who had nine points (five goals, four assists) in 13 postseason games in 2016-17, when the Oilers reached Game 7 of the Western Conference Second Round. "I'm not happy about it. It's going to be a long summer."
Edmonton's remaining games are at the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; ALT, SNW, NHL.TV), home against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday and at the Calgary Flames on Saturday.
NHL.com correspondent Danny Webster contributed to this report