There are certain awards every year that seem destined to go to a single player, coach or executive regardless of who else is named a finalist. This year the Jack Adams might be one of those, as even our readership were in agreement on Gerard Gallant as the obvious choice. He received more than 62% of the vote, while no other candidate earned even 15%.
Another one of those awards might be this one. Yesterday the NHL released the finalists for GM of the Year, and Gallant’s boss is the overwhelming favorite. George McPhee started with the signing of Reid Duke, an over-aged played from the WHL, and could very well end with the Stanley Cup. Though the voting happens pre-playoffs, there’s no doubt that McPhee dominated many of his competitors this season by leveraging the expansion draft process—as flawed as it perhaps was—to create both a strong NHL team and a solid draft pipeline.
But, none of that could have been possible without breakout years by almost his entire selected roster. Some of the other moves—namely, acquiring Tomas Tatar at the trade deadline—haven’t been as universally well-regarded. More than that, there are some other names that could have a good case for the award.
Kevin Cheveldayoff, another one of the finalists, is likely there more for the work he has done over the last few years than anything he did in-season. The Winnipeg Jets have slowly matured into a powerhouse in the Western Conference, and though Paul Stastny was a shrewd deadline pickup, Dmitry Kulikov and Steve Mason haven’t worked out perfectly. Instead, it’s all the incredible drafting and development that has made Winnipeg into one of the deepest teams in the league.
The last finalist was Steve Yzerman, widely regarded as one of the best executives in the league. The Hall of Fame player has turned into a master of running an NHL club, locking up key players for reasonable cap hits and making big trades when necessary. Acquiring Mikhail Sergachev in the summer when he felt the Lightning had a surplus of talented forwards, and then landing the biggest trade deadline fish without removing much from his NHL roster—Vladislav Namestnikov was essentially replaced with the addition of J.T. Miller—have pushed Tampa Bay into a position to contend for some time.
But are there other candidates who should be considered for the award? What about Joe Sakic, who was close to being replaced last summer, only to land a huge package of talent for Matt Duchene in the early part of the season. The squad he put together jumped all the way from last place to the playoffs on the back of some underrated players (and Nathan MacKinnon), and are set up for success in the future.
What about Jim Rutherford in Pittsburgh, or Brian MacLellan in Washington, who both added key pieces to their teams at the deadline despite having very little cap space. Derick Brassard is returning to the Penguins with just a $3MM cap hit next season, while Michal Kempny has solidified the Capitals defense en route to their lead in the Conference Finals.
It might be clear what the answer is, but we’d like to hear from you. Cast your vote below on who should win, not who will win, and make sure to explain why in the comment section!
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