With the NHL season at around the half-way mark, we are going to look at which players in the NHL deserve which award so far. We will be breaking down the midseason 2020-21 NHL awards. In this series, the Last Word on Hockey team will decide who should have won each award based on the advanced numbers. Today, we’ll look at the GM of the Year Award. For each award, we will be giving our top picks as well as two honourable mentions. These honourable mentions are not just players that are next on the list (though they could be), just individuals that are deserving of recognition.
Midseason 2020-21 NHL Awards: By the Numbers
While the GM of the Year Award is sometimes regarded as a “lifetime achievement award” that reflects how a general manager’s body of work has panned out in a single year, in this series it will only reflect deals after the 2020 NHL trade deadline. This includes off-season trades, the NHL Entry Draft, and free agency.
Winner: Joe Sakic
Sakic has had an interesting tenure as the Colorado Avalanche’s GM. Initially thought to be a terrible NHL GM who left the Matt Duchene situation sit and fester, when he was just waiting for the perfect trade. This 2020-21 season has been incredible for Sakic. Sakic’s first big move of the year was acquiring Brandon Saad for Nikita Zadorov (other pieces were involved, but this was the core). This was an incredible acquisition for a player that can play in the top six next to Nazem Kadri for a very unremarkable defenceman.
Sakic followed this up by taking advantage of the New York Islanders cap situation and acquired Devon Toews without giving up anyone on his NHL roster. Trading for the RFA rights to Devon Toews for two second-round picks, then quickly locking him up to a four-year, $4,100,000 contract just bolstered this team’s already great defence. While Greg Pateryn for Ian Cole was a less than desirable outcome, it doesn’t deter from the two incredible trades Sakic made earlier.
Sakic didn’t have a super loud free agency, primarily just locking up players like Devon Toews, Valeri Nichuskin, and Andre Burakovsky. The key part of these signings is that he locked these three incredible players up with term. Ranging from 2-4 years, the Avalanche will have these players for multiple cup runs.
Runner-Up: Kyle Dubas
Kyle Dubas really had an incredible off-season. Starting with getting a large return for Kasperi Kapanen from the Penguins, which included the 15th overall pick (Rodion Amirov) and Filip Hallander. Following this, Dubas went out to have an incredible free agency. Adding strong depth options (that have even been able to take roles higher in the lineup) like Joe Thornton, Wayne Simmonds, Jimmy Vesey, Travis Boyd, and Mikko Lehtonen. Even though not all of these players remain with the Leafs roster, the acquisition of this much depth was key. This is in addition to the biggest Leafs signing, T.J. Brodie. Brodie has been the addition the Leafs needed the most.
While the Andreas Johnsson trade was undesirable, it was necessary to become cap compliant. Dubas was also able to re-sign Ilya Mikheyev with a bit of term, as well as keep Travis Dermott on this roster. Extending Jason Spezza was also key to this team, being able to fill out the forward lines around the main forwards. This is the key to having a long and prosperous roster. The ability to find cheap depth that can help your team but won’t burden you in the future to assist your main core.
Third Place: Bill Zito
The Florida Panthers are much better than most could have imagined. Bill Zito went out and dealt Mike Matheson and Coulton Sceviour for Patric Hornqvist, a player that is excellent on the powerplay but also has positive possession numbers (something Matheson and Sceviour do not have).
Zito really shines during his free-agent signings. Adding Radko Gudas, Alexander Wennberg, Anthony Duclair, and Carter Verhaeghe were all excellent acuqisitions. Zito was also able to keep MacKenzie Weegar for multiple seasons, signing a three-year extension. All of these players have a positive shot attempt impact and have been large pieces for the Panthers this season. These players are a big reason why the Panthers have been so successful in 2020-21. And not a single one of these players were signed to more than $4,000,000.
While his team is only in fourth in the North Division, Bergevin arguably had the single best move this season. Signing Tyler Toffoli for four years at $4,250,000 was an incredible move. This, in tandem with the Jake Allen trade and extension, as well as picking up Joel Edmundson is what qualifies him for the honourable mentions list.
While his team has not seen the success that was projected for them, the additions that Treliving made have benefitted his team. He acquired the best goalie in free agency, and added a third-string goaltender, addressing an area of need. He also signed Chris Tanev who has seen success so far this season. The only issue is the term on these contracts, but Treliving was successful in addressing his team’s needs for today.
All contract and transaction information from CapFriendly
2020-21 NHL Awards Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images