Winning the NHL’s General Manager of the Year Award doesn’t always bode well for your future. Two of the five winner’s in the short history of the award were fired by their respective teams not long after being chosen. Mike Gillis was canned three years after he won, while Ray Shero was shown the door less than twelve months after he was was given the honor.
On Friday night, the NHL announced its three finalists for the 2015 award: Bob Murray of the Anaheim Ducks; Glen Sather of the New York Rangers; and Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Why Bob Murray deserves to win
Murray crafted a Ducks team that posted the top record in the Western Conference for the second consecutive season, captured its third straight Pacific Division title with the second-best record in franchise history (51-24-7, 109 points) and has reached the Conference Finals for the first time since its Stanley Cup win in 2007. Murray acquired center Ryan Kesler in a draft-day trade last June and defenseman Simon Despres at the trade deadline in March, adding to a roster whose core was built through the draft (forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, defensemen Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen, goaltender Frederik Andersen). Murray is a finalist for the third consecutive season; he finished second in voting in 2012-13 and captured the award in 2013-14.
Why Glen Sather deserves to win
Sather assembled a roster that went 53-22-7 (113 points) during the regular season to set franchise records for wins and points in capturing the third Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history. The Rangers also led the NHL and set club records for road wins (28) and points (58). With a successful mix of 25-and-under standouts (Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan), veteran draft picks (Carl Hagelin, Henrik Lundqvist, Marc Staal), trade acquisitions (Derick Brassard, Kevin Klein, Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, Keith Yandle) and free agents (Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi), the Rangers have advanced to the Conference Finals for the third time in the past four seasons. Sather is a finalist for the first time since the award was introduced in 2009-10.
Why Steve Yzerman deserves to win
After leading Tampa Bay to the Conference Finals in 2010-11, his first season in charge, Yzerman oversaw the rebuild to a roster that has returned to the final four with just two holdovers from the 2011 squad, cornerstone center Steven Stamkos and defenseman Victor Hedman. Bolstered by key acquisitions through the draft (Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat), via free agency (Brian Boyle, Valtteri Filppula, Tyler Johnson, Anton Stralman) and trades (Ben Bishop, Ryan Callahan, Jason Garrison), the Lightning set franchise records with 50 wins and 108 points during the regular season. They also led the League with 262 goals and 32 home wins. Yzerman is a finalist for the award for the second time, finishing second in balloting in 2010-11.
Voting was conducted by all 30 NHL general managers and a panel of league executives, print and broadcast media at the end of Round 2.
Maybe you could make a case for Nashville Predators GM David Poile to be a finalist, but the biggest oversight has to be Garth Snow of the New York Islanders. He upgraded in goal, on defense and up front, saw his team improved by 22 points and come within a Game 7 win of advancing to the second round. Not sure what else he needed to do to be included.
Who Should Win: Garth Snow.
Who Will Win: Steve Yzerman. Overhauled his roster and raided the Stanley Cup finalist Rangers, while keeping his core intact, which includes extending two-thirds of the “Triplets” line and Alex Killorn. Also bolstered defense at the trade deadline with the acquisition of Braydon Coburn.
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