Monday, December 07, 2009

Top 10 General Managers in the NHL

Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo Sports has listed his picks for the top 10 GMs in the NHL. Actually, the list is a bit of the challenge because managing in the league has changed considerably post-lockout. Some decent GMs have struggled since the lockout.

10. Darcy Regier

Fiscally handcuffed at times, Regier's seen some very good players leave for other places upon free agency, and is infamous for failing to make significant moves at the deadline to bolster his team's chances.

9. Jay Feaster

Feaster was the GM of the Lightning from 2002-Koules/Barrie, and helped build the team's only Stanley Cup champion. The Bolts won two division titles and made the playoffs in four straight seasons. He is a lawyer rather than an ex-jock who wisely hired Bill Barber to be his hockey personnel man.

8. George McPhee

The decade timeline for the Capitals: Division titles, Jagr, payroll explosion, extreme purge of talent to cut payroll, 59-point season under Bruce Cassidy, Ovechkin, lockout, Backstrom, Boudreau, division titles. Bottoming out helped rebuild the team, but McPhee made some solid moves to expedite the process and capture the imagination of a fan base again.

7. Pierre Lacroix

Nothing was going to top the construction of the 1990s Avalanche teams built on the foundation of the Patrick Roy trade. But just like back then, Lacroix again augmented the talent in his lineup by trading for established stars in early part of the decade: Making the Ray Bourque trade in 2000 and dealing for Rob Blake before the 2001 playoffs.

6. Ray Shero

Detractors will claim Shero had an advantage over others because the Penguins went in the tank early in the decade, and they have a valid point: He took over a team in 2006 that had the advantage of drafting Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury. But to win a cup he had to make some astute moves at the trading deadline and during the summer free agent season.

5. Doug Wilson

The San Jose Sharks have made the playoffs in each of Wilson's five seasons at the helm, winning three division titles and making the conference finals once. He's made some bold decisions beyond the Thornton trade.

4. Jim Rutherford

There are different sides to Rutherford. There's the safe side that drafts Eric Staal and brings in an old friend like Paul Maurice when he needs to fire a coach. Then there's a gambler; the guy who aggressively believed that his 2006 team would win the first post-lockout Cup, to the point where he added Doug Weight and Mark Recchi at a time when other teams were shedding salaries.

3. Brian Burke

Burke is unafraid to make big, high-risk moves if he thinks it will improve his team. In Vancouver, he managed to cut payroll, make the Canucks better and fill the building. Burke can be confrontational and brash, but he's also terrific at what he does. Sure there were some questionable draft choices in his tenure with both the Canucks and the Ducks but he also has a Stanley Cup.

2. Lou Lamoriello

One of the most respected and successful executives in NHL history, Lamoriello did some remarkable things. Please examine the rosters for the 2000 Stanley Cup champion Devils and the 2003 Cup champion team. Separated by only a few seasons, there are significantly different pieces that fit for the titles, beginning with the coaching staff.

1. Ken Holland

The winner of four Stanley Cups with the Wings overall and two in the last decade, Holland tops the list as the leader of the most impressive front office in the NHL for the last 10 years. Winning the Cup with this roster in the bloated payroll days of 2002 and with this roster in the spend-thrift days of 2008 is nothing short of remarkable.