The Edmonton Oilers on Monday fired head amateur scout Stu MacGregor as well as four other members of the amateur and professional scouting department.
"We have to get better drafting and developing players," Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said while speaking with the media.
MacGregor had been director of amateur scouting since 2007, and a scout for the Oilers since 2000.
"I wanted to lean out the staff a bit, I wanted to reposition some people in duties, and these are hard decisions that we have to make; that I had to make," Chiarelli said.
The Oilers, who have the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, are expected to take Erie Otters center Connor McDavid. The Oilers also have the 16th pick in the first round, acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins. They have 10 picks in all, tied for the most of any team.
McDavid had 120 points (44 goals, 76 assists) in 47 games for Erie this season.
"It's pretty exciting. I've heard dimensional, generational, all that stuff," Chiarelli said of McDavid. "We had him here in town last week on Sunday with his family, and … he's a humble kid, but he's a driven kid. Excited if we draft him. As a manager, yeah, when you see a player like that, and you're able to draft him, you don't want to get too far ahead of yourself, but you want to make sure the proper steps are taken to get him up and running. But it only comes around once in a while."
Though Chiarelli said he is open to trading some of the Oilers' picks, he said the No. 1 selection is not on the table, and he's weighing his decisions based on short- and long-term gains.
"It's not that we have time. I understand that we've made some changes here in a coach and GM; we're going to get some new players," Chiarelli said. "There's competitive urges in all of us, and the margins are so small that you can get into the playoffs and then do some damage. There's that temptation, I'll call it, but you want to do it properly."
The Oilers are in the market to acquire a new goalie, and Chiarelli said Edmonton is going over its options, whether it's via a trade, the free agent market, or through the draft.
"There are goalies out there, we've had discussions with teams; we're in a group of my guess is two or three, maybe four teams looking for goalies," Chiarelli said. "There are more goalies than those number of teams, so we're in a bit of a buyer's market. Having said that, we've got multiple picks, so I seem to be a popular potential trading partner on that front."
" … My guess is we'll probably be able to do something before the draft, but I'm not completely sure."
Chiarelli said it's possible the Oilers will make subsequent hires following the firings on its scouting staff, and he hopes Edmonton will hire two additional assistant coaches for Todd McLellan by Friday.
Also fired Monday were head pro scout Morey Gare, amateur scouts Brad Davis and Kent Hawley and pro scout Dave Semenko. Semenko was a player on the Oilers' Stanley Cup championship teams in 1984 and 1985. He had been on the scouting staff since 1997.
Director of coaching and special projects Billy Moores was also fired.