So on Wednesday they announced the hiring of Bob Green as director of amateur free-agent scouting. The former general manager of the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings will mostly be responsible for recruiting NCAA and CHL players.
"Even though it's the NHL, you've still got to recruit," Green said. "The high-end free agents that you're chasing after have a lot of interest from other teams, so you've got to have a good story to tell about Edmonton and the Oilers and you've got to be able to attract those guys and get them there. It's one thing to find them based on ability, it's another thing getting them here."
Stu MacGregor remains head of amateur scouting, something general manager Craig MacTavish emphasized after the team's initial press release called Green the team's director of amateur and free-agent scouting. MacTavish called it a "coup" for the organization to hire Green for this role.
"There are a lot of people that slip through the draft and give us further opportunity," MacTavish said. "To have a guy with Bob's credibility in the CHL that'll be able to open the doors and really enhance our ability to attract and sign very good players coming in to our organization."
Green, the WHL's executive of the year in 2011-12 and 2012-13, had been Oil Kings GM for the past six seasons. The Oil Kings won the WHL in 2011-12 and advanced to the Memorial Cup.
The 52-year-old called returning to his passion of scouting an opportunity that was too good to turn down.
"It's easier to leave after you've had success than if you haven't," Green said.
Now Green's focus is to help the Oilers have success, specifically in regard to signing college and over-age CHL players.
"There's 30 teams in the NHL — it's highly competitive," he said. "The margin of winning is extremely small, so any advantage you can get and any player that you can bring into your system that has an opportunity to make your team better, you've got to look at it."