It's the best time of year!
For just the second year, the NHL will hand out an award to the top general manager of the year. 2009/10 was the inaugural season for the award, as Coyotes GM Don Maloney won it; Nashville’s David Poile and Washington’s George McPhee were also nominated. The award is voted on by all 30 GM’s around the league, along with an executive panel.
We’re closing in on the end of the regular season, so it’s time to take a look at a handful of worthy candidates for the GM of the Year award.
Steve Yzerman, Tampa Bay Lightning
A year ago at this time, the front office in Tampa Bay was in disarray. Though possessing a talented roster, the Lightning just couldn’t put the pieces together to come close to being a playoff contender. With Yzerman in the fold, Tampa Bay is more than just a contender; they are neck-and-neck with Washington for the division title, something that was unexpected by many before the start of the season.
Yzerman has made some shrewd moves less than 12 months on the job. Before the year he picked up center Dominic Moore, who has turned out to be a nice bargain and very versatile in the lineup. He also boosted the blueline by signing Pavel Kubina and Brett Clark while getting rid of Andrej Meszaros, who didn’t fit. Since mid-season, Yzerman has obtained Dwayne Roloson and Eric Brewer for close to nothing, along with Marc-Andre Bergeron basically off the street.
Lastly (and most importantly), Yzerman’s first hire as the GM was coach Guy Boucher, a rising star in the coaching ranks, from AHL Hamilton. Stevie Y’s collection of wise moves not only has the Bolts battling for the division, but also has his name at the center of this second annual award.
Mike Gillis, Vancouver Canucks
After last spring’s playoff exit, Canucks GM Mike Gillis set out to improve the defense in the off-season; and he did just that. Gillis traded for Keith Ballard and signed Dan Hamhuis in less than a week; their presence has made the Canucks’ blueline one of the deepest in the league. So much so, that the team ranks first in goals-against average in the NHL (2.24).
Aside from Hamhuis and Ballard, Gillis was able to grab Manny Malhotra on July 1. Viewed as an overpayment early, Malhotra has been a perfect fit on Vancouver’s checking line. Another newcomer, Raffi Torres, is also jelling well on the third line. Cory Schneider, who has been one of the best backup goalies this year, was retained after endless rumors.
Gillis has seemingly pushed the right buttons ever since arriving in VanCity. In his time there, he has steadily put together the top team in today’s NHL with one sharp move after another. If deadline pickups Maxim Lapierre and Chris Higgins help the Canucks achieve their ultimate goal, Gillis will definitely be one of the front-runners for this award.
Stan Bowman, Chicago Blackhawks
Scotty Bowman’s son should be applauded just for putting a winning team on the ice despite the roster overhaul in the off-season. Nine members of last spring’s Cup-winning Blackhawks team were either traded or unsigned, leaving Stan Bowman a lot of work to do without much wiggle room under the salary cap. Gone are the likes of Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg and Antti Niemi, but their replacements have performed just fine.
Bowman was forced to use a mixture of cheap veterans and rookies to fill out a top-heavy roster when it comes to talent. Marty Turco played well in net at the start (since overtaken by rookie Corey Crawford), while rookie defenseman Nick Leddy has taken advantage of the opportunities given to him. Bowman was able to keep the core further intact by re-signing Brent Seabrook to a five-year extension.
Bowman may not be the top candidate for GM of the Year, but he cannot be ignored due to his commendable job of staying under the cap and keeping the ‘Hawks in the win column.
Ray Shero, Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh’s Ray Shero is yet another GM that has been pushing a lot of the right buttons. Immediately after Sergei Gonchar left for Ottawa, Shero inked two of the top defensemen on the market during the frenzy – Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek. Those two gave the Pens one of the best top five groups of blueliners prior to the trade of puck-mover Alex Goligoski.
Speaking of which; Shero made the gutsy move to deal Goligoski to Dallas for James Neal and Matt Niskanen. Neal, the centerpiece of the deal, hasn’t tallied a goal just yet, but has played well. Shero also took Alex Kovalev off Ottawa’s hands for a seventh-round draft pick. With Sidney Crosby out indefinitely and Evgeni Malkin done for the year, the Pens are hoping Neal and Kovalev can provide just enough offense to get past the first round.
Kris Letang’s contract extension is looking more and more like a bargain signing by Shero with each passing signing by other defensemen around the league. Letang, who has emerged as a Norris Trophy candidate, is making just $3.5 million a year through 2013-14.
David Poile, Nashville Predators
Nominated last year for this very award, David Poile is once again raising some eyebrows. National media and pundits alike felt the losses of Jason Arnott and Hamhuis would be enough to keep the Preds out of the playoffs. However, Poile has surrounded the core with useful, inexpensive role players… which is vital in a market like Nashville.
It took time for Sergei Kostitsyn and Shane O’Brien to mesh into Barry Trotz’s system, but both have been key players for the Preds this season. It should be noted that Kostitsyn was signed as an RFA for just $550,000 last summer. The trade for Mike Fisher will help the team for more than just this stretch run. Also, Poile opted not to spend money on a veteran backup ‘tender; he instead went with Anders Lindback, who’s been great as a fill-in.
It seems like Poile does this every year, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him once again get some recognition as the GM of the Year.
Photo credit: Getty Images
at 2:00 PM
Tauchen Sie in der Welt von blackjack online ein und lassen Sie sich mit online casino spielen vergnügen.