The trade deadline is well past, we’ve seen players rock their new uniforms for a few games now and more importantly, we’ve all been able to cool off from our initial reactions of trades (example: me after the Davidson-Desharnais trade).
After giving things sometimes, I’ve decided to rank the General Managers of the NHL on the trades they’ve made this year, or in some cases the trades they haven’t made.
A couple of notes before I get into things. First off, I based these on the GM’s entire season, not just the time around the trade deadline. Also, I used letter grades to do these ranking because it’s fun.
(A+) – No One
I am not giving a single GM a rating of A+ for the moves they’ve made this season.
In my opinion, there isn’t a GM out there who successfully went out and filled out his roster without overpaying significantly, or a GM who took advantage of a seller’s market well enough to warrant being given significant praise. You’ll see what I mean as I work my way through the rest of the letters.
(A) – Brian MacLellan
I mean, he already had the best roster in the NHL and he’s only made a couple of moves this season. First, he shored up some depth by grabbing Tom Gilbert from the LA Kings for essentially nothing, then he made the big splash.
Acquiring Kevin Shattenkirk is just gravy on top of a near perfect roster, but props to MacLellan for deciding to go all in, it’s
an incredibly strong move. The only reason I won’t give MacLellan an A+ is because I felt like he paid too high of a price. While a first rounder and a conditional is good value for Shattenkirk, from the Capitals perspective, they paid a premium for 3 months of a d-man who will likely be on the second pairing.
With all that said I also see the value in acquiring the best player on the market simply so teams like Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay couldn’t get him. The bottom line, they paid a premium, but still got the best player on the market. Enough for me to give Brian MacLellan an “A”, the best ranking of any GM this year.
(A-) – JIM BENNING
The man that many had dubbed the worst GM in the league, including me, made some serious strides towards redemption with the moves he’s made this season.
Selling off Alex Burrows for a top tier prospect like Jonathan Dahlen is absolute robbery. That deserves some serious credit, especially when you compare that to what some other veteran forwards we’re going for this year.
He followed that up with another really solid move, sending Jannik Hansen to San Jose for Nikolay Goldobin (who runs an incredible Twitter account) and a condition 4th round pick, that could become a 1st if the Sharks win the Stanley Cup. Picking up another prospect with top-6 potential and a draft pick for an aging vet is a mighty accomplishment on its own, but Benning had another hurdle to climb when making this deal. Hansen had a list of teams that he could be dealt to, usually, that drops the value of a player around deadline day, but Benning did a great job waiting for a solid offer, and he got it.
Benning also did a solid job on the waiver wire, grabbing Joseph Cramarossa. A small move, but I like what Cramarossa can do, so I’ll put another notch in the plus column for this one.
The only reason Benning didn’t get a higher grade is because I felt like he could have done more. I feel like Ryan Miller should have been dealt, maybe even bigger fish like Alex Edler could have gotten Benning a nice return given how strong the market was for d-men.
Regardless of that last point, a very very strong season of moves by Benning, which nets him an A-, the second best rating amongst GM’s.
(B+) – Steve Yzerman
He started by shipping Nikita Nesterov to the Habs for Jonathan Racine and a 6th round pick, which I didn’t love. Felt like Nesterov still has some developing to do, he’s only 23 years old, but it wasn’t a fatal move.
Next was the Ben Bishop move. I understand holding onto him for as long as possible to try to get back into the playoff race, but I feel like Yzerman held out for too long, and had to take a low ball offer because of it. Eric Cernak might be a solid prospect, but I feel like you needed a better return than that in a seller’s market.
But Stevie Y redeemed himself with a pair of moves on deadline day. First, he sends Val Filppula and a pick to Philly for Mark Streit and a pick. Then he shocked many by flipping Streit right back to Pennsylvania in exchange for a pick.
On the surface, this could be puzzling, but there are a few things to consider. The first is the cap hit, Yzerman has now shed himself of Filppula $5 million cap hit next year, which is important given the number of RFA’s they have including Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin, and Ondrej Palat. Secondly, it saves them a forward slot in the expansion draft. Filppula’s NTC meant that he had to be protected, now that he’s gone, the team can keep Jonathan Drouin protected, which is huge given how important he is to their future.
A couple questionable moves to start, but Yzerman comes back with an absolute home run on deadline day, which saves them down the road. B+ for you Steve.
(B) – Dean Lombardi/Stan Bowman
I’ll start with Lombardi. He got Ben Bishop at a bargain
price and similar to the Caps getting Shattenkirk, they didn’t need it, but it meant that Calgary/Winnipeg couldn’t get him. That’s huge. Bishop is the best insurance on the market, so props to Lombardi for getting him for nice and cheap.
He also went out and got Jarome Iginla for a 4th round pick, which I didn’t love. Iginla can still contribute, but when you look at a guy like Thomas Vanek going for just a 3rd rounder, or even P.A. Parenteau going for a measly 6th rounder, there were better options out there for better value.
Still, he addressed his needs nicely, so he gets a ‘B’.
I also gave Stan Bowman a ‘B’ out in Chicago. They needed depth, so he went out and got Jurco from Detroit for a 3rd round pick, a move that also helps them in the expansion draft. Jurco has a ton of offensive potential, so I could honestly see him thriving long term in Chicago if he’s given that chance.
Then he addressed some depth on defense by bringing back Trevor Daley, a move that I believe will help both on the ice and in the room. Although both moves were minor, I thought he did a good job without paying a premium.
(B-) – DAVID POILE
The Preds have an incredibly solid roster. Their goaltending is set, there’s really no room to add on defense. So the only hole they have is up front, and even that isn’t a massive concern if their stars play up to their full potential (Johansen, Forsberg etc).
Poile only made one move, snatching up P.A. Parenteau for a 6th round pick. For a player with 13 goals and 27 points in 59 games, that is some absolutely incredible value.
I liked that Poile sat back and didn’t try to force a move or shake things up too much. But when a golden opportunity to make your team better falls into your lap, you have to jump on it. It was quiet, but I think that’s what makes this season of moves even more impressive for the veteran GM Poile.
Did I miss anyone who you felt deserved a high grade? Let me know in the forum or on Twitter @ty89yar
UP NEXT: It’s always more fun to be negative, so tune in next for the bottom half of my GM Rankings.