In many cases, the overall success of a team comes down to the decisions that the owners and general managers make. While there are many exceptions to this, every year there are a few teams who really blossom to their full potential. Some of these teams have been good for years, but just needed a few changes or additions that may have seemed absurd at the time. Others find themselves rising from bottom up.
Since the 2009-10 season, the National Hockey League honors one general manager for exceeding all expectations and going above and beyond. This year, Brian MacLellan of the Washington Capitals, Jim Nill of the Dallas Stars and Jim Rutherford of the Pittsburgh Penguins have been named as the three finalists for the award of ‘General Manager of the Year’.
All of these general managers had notable seasons for different reasons. Brian MacLellan and the Washington Capitals had a phenomenal regular season. Though they were eliminated in the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoff’s, their season cannot be discounted. The phenomenal goaltending and landslide win of the 2015-16 President’s Cup (for being the top NHL team with 56 wins-making it a franchise record) are not the only notable things that can be said about this season’s Capitals. The acquisition of T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams in the last offseason added greatly to the team’s success.
Jim Nill of the Dallas Stars was also among the list of NHL general managers who knows what they are doing. Acquiring Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Antti Niemi in the last offseason are only a few of the factors that led the the success of the Star’s this season. The Dallas Stars won their first Western Conference title since the 2002-03 season and made it deep into the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoff’s, along with reaching 50 wins for only the fourth time in franchise history.
Over the past year, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Jim Rutherford have been busy curating a roster full of exceptional players. They were able to (most notably) add Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen, Eric Fehr, Carl Hagelin and Trevor Daley to their arsenal. After firing their coach mid-season, the Penguins found success in Mike Sullivan’s team leading efforts. Now, in the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoff’s the Penguins are a hard team to count out. Their perseverance and bench full of superstars have only been some of the factors in their success and the credit can be mainly given to their general manager.
The winner of General Manager of the Year will be announced on June 22nd at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas.