Oilers hire Connor McDavid’s agent Jeff Jackson as CEO of hockey operations

Jeff Jackson shares the talks he had with Connor McDavid before taking on his new role with the Oilers, how supportive he was during the process, and his commitment to keeping him in Edmonton long-term.

EDMONTON — Jeff Jackson once represented Edmonton Oilers star forward Connor McDavid and defenceman Evan Bouchard as their agent.

Now Jackson is the new CEO of hockey operations for the NHL team.

His introductory news conference Thursday included questions about McDavid’s long-term future in Edmonton and how close the team is to re-signing Bouchard.

McDavid, a three-time winner of the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player, has three years left on his contract.

“Who in this room doesn’t want him to be an Oiler for life?” said Jackson.

“Of course, I have a very close relationship with Connor, it’s going to be a different relationship now. But ultimately the goal is to keep this team, this core group together.

“I think there’s a lot of runway for success for a number of years.”

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The Oilers got to the Western Conference final two seasons ago, and were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs last spring by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights.

Edmonton boasts the best power play in the league and had three 100-point scorers last season in McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

While the Oilers are considered one of the league’s most entertaining teams, some tweaks appear to be needed to get over the hump.

One of the first orders of business is re-signing Bouchard. He had 40 points last season and added 17 more across 12 playoff games after taking on a quarterback role on the power play.

Dave Gagner has taken over from Jackson as Bouchard’s agent.

“We’re not that far apart, but obviously not close enough,” said Oilers general manager and president of hockey operations Ken Holland. “We’ll get a deal done.”

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Jackson, meanwhile, joins the club after working at the Wasserman Hockey agency. Oilers special adviser and Hall of Fame defenceman Paul Coffey spoke to him at the recent NHL Draft about the potential of joining the team as its CEO.

As the draft and free-agency season is a hectic time for an agent, Jackson put any thought of taking the job aside. He thought about it more in the weeks that followed and also spoke to his star client.

“I didn’t actually go to Connor and say, ‘I’m doing this,’” he said. “I called him and we talked about it. It’s a unique opportunity. I don’t think I would have gone anywhere else.

“I was not looking to leave the agent business. I was at an awesome agency in Wasserman, great colleagues in the hockey department, great colleagues throughout that agency.

“Connor is involved, and the team that Kenny’s put together is on the verge I think of some great things. So I talked to Connor about it and he said, ‘I think you should talk to (Oilers owner Daryl Katz). I think you’d be great at the job, so you do what you have to do, I am coming with you.’”

Former Oilers president Bob Nicholson has been moved to an advisory role, and a team spokesperson said “he will work closely with Ken and Jeff.”

As a player, Jackson appeared in 263 NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Quebec Nordiques and Chicago Blackhawks.

Wasserman Hockey executive vice-president Judd Moldaver takes over as McDavid’s agent. Moldaver also represents Toronto Maple Leafs star and 2021-22 league MVP Auston Matthews.

Holland said that having a former agent take over the team’s operations could give the Oilers an edge.

“When you’re an agent, you talk to 32 general managers,” said Holland. “He has a real understanding of how 32 teams operate. So I think Jeff’s going to bring a lot of information to the Edmonton Oilers and to our hockey (operations) department.

“It will help move us forward.”

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