Top Three Candidates for NHL GM of the Year Award

The role of a General Manager in the NHL is to construct a team that is capable of going through an 82 game season, winning more than they lose and reaching the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It can be a grueling task at times and to some, it’s overwhelming but if their team can reach the promise land and hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup, all of it will have been worth it. For General Managers however, there is a prize built just for them; The NHL GM of the Year award.

“An annual award presented to recognize the work of the league’s general managers, voting for this new award is conducted among the 30 club general managers and a panel of NHL executives, print and broadcast media at the conclusion of the regular season.”

The award was first presented back in 2010 and the winner is decided based on a panel of the 30 NHL GMs, as well as league executives, print and broadcast media and the votes are accumulated at the end of the regular season. Each year has brought a new winner to this trophy. Here are a look at the four General Managers that have found their name on this trophy.


This year, the trend of a new General Manager winning the trophy continues.


Bob Murray of the Anaheim Ducks:

July 5, 2013

To Ottawa Senators
Bobby Ryan

To Anaheim Ducks
Jakob Silfverberg
Stefan Noesen
1st-round pick in 2014

September 29, 2013

To Washington Capitals
John Mitchell
4th-round pick in 2014

To Anaheim Ducks
Mathieu Perreault

November 16, 2013

To Toronto Maple Leafs
Peter Holland
Brad Staubitz

To Anaheim Ducks
Jesse Blacker
Conditional 3rd round pick in 2014
ANA’s 7th-round pick in 2014

November 21, 2013

To Calgary Flames
6th-round pick in 2014

To Anaheim Ducks
Tim Jackman

March 4, 2014

To Washington Capitals
Dustin Penner

To Anaheim Ducks
ANA’s 4th-round pick in 2014

March 4, 2014

To Dallas Stars
Conditional 4th-round pick in 2014

To Anaheim Ducks
Stephane Robidas

March 4, 2014

To Edmonton Oilers
Viktor Fasth

To Anaheim Ducks
5th-round pick in 2014
3rd-round pick in 2015

March 5, 2014

To Ottawa Senators
Alex Grant

To Anaheim Ducks
Andre Petersson

Free agents signed:
Zack Stortini – 1 year, $600,000
Nolan Yonkman – 1 year, $600,000
Alex Grant – 1 year, $550,000
Dustin Penner – 1 year, $2 million
Mark Fistric – 1 year, $900,000
Matt Bailey – 2 years, $1.385 million (entry-level contract)

Free agents lost
Radek Dvorak – 1 year, $600,000 (Carolina Hurricanes)

Players signings:
Saku Koivu – 1 year, $3.5 million
Matt Beleskey – 2 years, $2.7 million
Mat Clark – 1 year, $550,000
Kyle Palmieri – 3 years, $4.4 million
Teemu Selanne – 1 year, $2 million
Shea Theodore – 3 years, $2.775 million (entry-level contract)
David Steckel – 1 year, $550,000
Nick Bonino – 3 years, $5.7 million (contract extension)
Andrew Cogliano – 4 years, $12 million (contract extension)
Tim Jackman – 1 year, $637,500 (contract extension)
Josh Manson – 2 years, $1.85 million (entry-level contract)
Nick Sorensen – 3 years, $2.41 million (entry-level contract)
Jaycob Megna – 3 years, $2.36 million (entry-level contract)
Nicolas Kerdiles – 3 years, $2.775 million (entry-level contract)

Bob Murray kicked off the off-season heading into the 2013-14 campaign by making a monumental splash, trading star winger Bobby Ryan to Ottawa for Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen and a 1st Round Pick in 2014. The trade landed them two young wingers with both size and skill with Silfverberg making the Anaheim team and Noesen developping in an already deep prospect pool. It was also a welcoming surprise to see the Senators drop in the standings, making the Ottawa 1st rounder that much more valuable.

It seems like reaching success the way the Ducks did this season can come rather easy when you have the likes of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf tearing it up, but Murray made smart signings and acquisitions to assure himself that he had a team that was built deep, top to bottom. Bringing back forwards Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu meant keeping secondary scoring and two-way play. The extension of Andrew Cogliano was key to keeping the Ducks scoring depth on the top nine alive and well.

Trading Dustin Penner for a 4th Round Pick left many scratching their head, especially when you take into account that they had no back-up solution to fill his spot, but the move hasn’t hindered the team’s success. Murray also managed to take that 4th rounder and trade it to the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Stephane Robidas, making it clear to the league that they were going for it this year.

Finally, while Murray did give up a 6th Round Pick for Tim Jackman, he still managed to load up on mid-to-low end draft picks by trading goaltender Viktor Fasth and center Peter Holland and also added a good prospect in Jessie Blacker.

With all these moves and a team set in place, the Ducks finished first in the Western conference, posting a record of 54-20-8 and just one point shy of the President’s Trophy, won by the Boston Bruins. They finished second in goals scored, outsted only by the Chicago Blackhawks, and third in goal differential, behind the league-leading Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues.

Jim Nill of the Dallas Stars:
July 4, 2013

To Boston Bruins
Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow

To Dallas Stars
Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button

July 5, 2013

To Edmonton Oilers
Philip Larsen
7th-round pick in 2016

To Dallas Stars
Shawn Horcoff

November 22, 2013

To Calgary Flames
Lane MacDermid

To Dallas Stars
6th-round pick in 2014

March 4, 2014

To Anaheim Ducks
Stephane Robidas

To Dallas Stars
Conditional 4th-round pick in 2014

March 5, 2014

To Florida Panthers
Dan Ellis

To Dallas Stars
Tim Thomas

Free agents signed
Dan Ellis – 2 years, $1.8 million
Chris Mueller – 1 year, $600,000
Justin Dowling – 2 years, $1.22 million (entry-level contract)

Free agents lost
Eric Nystrom – 4 years, $10 million (Nashville Predators)
Richard Bachman – 1 year, $625,000 (Edmonton Oilers)

Claimed via Waivers
Pittsburgh Penguins’ Dustin Jeffrey

Lost via Waivers
Luke Gazdic (Edmonton Oilers)

Player signings
Luke Gazdic – 1 year, $635,000
Lane MacDermid – 1 year, $660,000
Jordie Benn – 3 years, $2.1 million
Valeri Nichushkin – 3 years, $2.775 million (entry-level contract)
Ryan Garbutt – 3 years, $1.8 million (contract extension)
Colton Sceviour – 2 years, $1.3 million (contract extension)

The Dallas Stars had not made the playoffs since 2008 – a six year drought. On the last game of the regular season, ownership cut ties with then-GM Joe Nieuwndyk and brought in the assistant GM of the Detroit Red Wings, Jim Nill. The message was clear; “Make us a winning organization, Jim.”

Jim responded quickly by trading two-way forward Loui Eriksson along with three prospects to the Boston Bruins in exchange for star forward Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and a prospect. The result was almost instant as Seguin clicked instantly with captain Jamie Benn. Seguin posted an 84 point campaign in his first season with the Stars, leading the team in goals, assists and points.

Prospect Valeri Nischushkin was drafted that year and given a chance to prove himself. Valeri did just that, posting 34 points in his rookie campaign while leading the team in +/- with 21. He never looked out of place since beginning the season and showed that he can play a good defensive game to go along with his superb offensive talent. Nill also made sure that the Stars had some secondary scoring, adding Shawn Horcoff to his roster. The extension of center Ryan Garbutt proved to be a solid move, as the 28-year-old showed up and worked his Garbutt off.

On defense, as mentionned above the Stars parted ways with Stephane Robidas but their off-season acquisition of Sergei Gonchar was yet another major move to push the team forward. The veteran defenseman added experience to the Stars backend and also helped out their powerplay, whether or not Gonchar himself produced. In goal, the Stars swapped freshly signed Dan Ellis with Tim Thomas, adding some depth and playoff experience to back up starter Kari Lehtonen.

With this line-up, Nill’s Stars pushed and grinded it out to earn a spot in the 2013-14 playoffs. Finishing 8th in the Western Conference with a record of 40-30-11. In just his first year of calling the shots, Nill managed to turn the team around and make them a playoff team once again.

Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning:

July 2, 2013

To Columbus Blue Jackets
Future Considerations

To Tampa Bay Lightning
Drew Olson (rights)

March 5, 2014

To New York Rangers
Martin St. Louis
Conditional 2nd-round pick in 2015

To Tampa Bay Lightning
Ryan Callahan
Conditional 2nd-round pick in 2014
1st-round pick in 2015
Conditional 7th-round pick in 2015

March 5, 2014

To Columbus Blue Jackets
Dana Tyrell
Matt Taormina

To Tampa Bay Lightning
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault
Dalton Smith

Free agents signed
Geoff Walker – 1 year, $575,000
Valtteri Filppula – 5 years, $25 million
Jean-Philippe Cote – 2 years, $1.1 million
Yanni Gourde – 2 years, 1.175 million (entry-level contract)
Cody Kunyk – 1 year, $925,000 (entry-level contract)

Free agents lost
Vincent Lecavalier – 5 year, $22.5 million (Philadelphia Flyers)
J. T. Wyman – 1 year, $750,000 (Colorado Avalanche)
Benoit Pouliot – 1 year, $1.3 million (New York Rangers)
Brendan Mikkelson – 1 year, $550,000 (Pittsburgh Penguins)

Claimed via Waivers
Chicago Blackhawks’ Mike Kostka

Player Signings
Pierre-Cedric Labrie – 1 year, $625,000
Cedrick Desjardins – 1 year, $650,000
Matt Taormina – 1 year, $650,000
Jonathan Drouin – 3 years, $2.775 million (entry-level contract)
J. T. Brown – 1 year, $874,125
Mark Barberio – 1 year, $605,000
Kristers Gudlevskis – 3 years, $1.835 million (entry-level contract)
Joel Vermin – 3 years, $1.8 million (entry-level contract)
Adam Erne – 3 years, $2.715 million (entry-level contract)
Henri Ikonen – 3 years, $1.85 million (entry-level contract)

It’s not often that a general manager receives high praise after trading away a player that has been with the organization since the 2000-01 campaign, won a Cup with the team in 2003-04 and was currently leading the team in goals and points this season. Actually, he STILL leads the team in goals and points for the team, despite playing 20 games less — although a certain injury to a certain star player factors into that. Still, trading away Martin St. Louis was a bold move but the return Steve Yzerman netted wasn’t anything to turn your nose to. Ryan Callahan added leadership that was left behind, grit and tenacity and heart. On top of that, the Lightning sent a conditional pick back to New York in exchange for a pair of conditional picks and a 1st rounder in 2015.

Possibly one of the quietest yet deadliest signings in the off-season was Valtteri Filppula, who will make $5 million over the next five years. Filppula became a beloved member of the Lightning rather quickly and showcased his offensive talents, leading the team in points after the departure of St. Louis. Looking back at how the Detroit Red Wings struggled heavily coming out of the gate, it’s no wonder how important Filppula can be to a team.

The most noticeable thing during Stevie Y’s tenure with the Lightning, this season in particular, is the revamping of the goaltending depth. In addition to trading away Cory Conacher for Ben Bishop, a move that will go down as one of the bigger steals in the last five years, Yzerman also brought back Cedrick Desjardins and gave an entry-level contract to prospect Kristers Gudlevskis, who was drafted in the fifth round of the same year. With Bishop and Anders Lindback holding the fort in Tampa and Gudlevskis and Desjardins in the system, Yzerman will not have to worry about the goaltending position possibly for many years to come, barring any injury.

And who could forget this team’s success despite losing Steven Stamkos for a good portion of the season? Normally a team would lose a step or two but the Lightning’s depth out-lasted any shortcoming and the team continued to win. Finishing 3rd in the Eastern Conference with a record of 46-27-9, the Lightning led by Yzerman made the playoffs for a second time in four years.

Honorable Mention:

I may be chewed out for this suggestion but if I had a dark horse, it would be Paul Holmgren of the Philadelphia Flyers. Perhaps the contracts given to Vincent Lecavalier and Mark Streit will affect the team in a couple of years from now but this award isn’t GM of the next five years. It’s this year alone. The Flyers struggled at the start of the season and Claude Giroux’s contract extension looked to be a disaster from the get-go. Holmgren could have acted like only Holmgren can but instead he made the perfect decision by firing Peter Laviolette and bringing in Craig Berube. A move that was heavily criticized the moment it was announced. Yet with Berube behind the bench, the Flyers picked up their game in a hurry and finished the season with a record of 42-30-10 and 6th in the Eastern Conference. The team could have been changed but instead, the man leading it was switched out and the team flourished.

Who would you pick? Vote in the poll, and leave your comments below.

[poll id=”113″]


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