We’ve now reached the halfway point for all teams in the National Hockey League. There has been exciting storylines and great individual performances during the season. Through these contenders for awards have started to emerge. Last Word on Hockey has made their picks for each, and here are the GM of the Year choices. The Selke Trophy was the last in the series.
Last Word on Hockey’s Mid-Season Awards: GM of the Year
Jarmo is the GM of the year because the moves he made directly correlate to Columbus’ current success. Let’s start with trading for Seth Jones last season, and then signing him to a six-year/$32.4 million deal in the offseason. Jones is a key piece to success; he is exceptionally consistent on the defensive side of the puck. However, pairing Jones with rookie sensation Zach Werenski is why Jarmo makes the big bucks.
Drafting Werenski solidifies the blue line for the Blue Jackets, and every cup contender needs a great blue line. He has 26 points in 43 games; he is extremely productive for a rookie and his playmaking ability makes him unique. Of course the emergence of Cam Atkinson, Alexander Wennberg, and Nick Foligno helps success immensely, but the defensive numbers are too great to ignore. Jarmo Kekäläinen put together a great roster and the difference between this team and last year’s team is night and day, with only a few vital moves. Fans should be excited for the future in Columbus.
Chiarelli has done tons to turn Edmonton around, and his moves are starting to show dividends. Taking a risk and trading Taylor Hall to New Jersey for Adam Larsson was his most impactful move this offseason. At face value, it may seem like Edmonton lost that trade but it changed the dynamic of the Oilers completely. Taylor Hall’s exit was the perfect opportunity for Connor McDavid to step into a leadership role and start a new era in Edmonton. The trade also gave Edmonton a much needed defenseman in Adam Larsson.
Chiarelli also landed a big fish this summer when he signed Milan Lucic to a seven-year/$42 million contract. Lucic is very productive- 27 points so far this season- and he brings a veteran presence, so the young guys can depend on him. Chiarelli should also get credit for trading away Nail Yakupov, trimming the fat is just as important as adding new pieces. Overall, Peter Chiarelli has done a great job turning Edmonton around; the future is bright for the Oilers.
Lamoriello made some key moves in the offseason to put Toronto in position to compete for a playoff spot again. Drafting Auston Matthews is a no brainer, right? Matthews is the perfect fit for Toronto and he is having an unbelievable rookie campaign. Another rookie worth mentioning is Nikita Zaitsev. He is an undrafted rookie defenseman who is playing well this season, really smart pick-up by Lou. In fact, the rookies have been playing the best hockey for Toronto, so you know the front office can clearly spot talent.
The signing of goaltender Frederik Andersen was crucial for Toronto as well. Andersen gives Toronto a real number one goalie, something they have lacked for years. Now Lamoriello can focus on other deficiencies, because the most glaring one is now taken care of. The abundance of young, upcoming stars on the Leafs roster is tremendous and Lamoriello has the opportunity to continue building a monster. Something tells me Lou has something great planned for the future.
The New York Rangers have been a great team for some time now, and Gorton has plenty to do with that. First of all, winning the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes was huge. Vesey is having a great rookie campaign and he is able to play within the system and help New York in a major way. Re-signing J.T. Miller is a move that is paying off for Gorton as well; he has 32 points in 45 games. His best pick-up this offseason though, Michael Grabner. Grabner already has more points than he has in any of the last four seasons; great value pick for the Rangers. Gorton has done a lot and his team’s success proves he is doing a great job.
Philadelphia is experiencing great success right now. The emergence of rookies Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov is quite phenomenal; they are fifth and sixth in points for Philly respectively. Also re-signing Brayden Schenn was huge for Hextall. He currently has 30 points for the flyers and is on route for a great finish. Hextall has done a great job for Philadelphia, and we will see what this team is capable of in the postseason.
Marc Bergevin had a really busy offseason this year. First of all, making the trade that shocked the hockey world, P.K Subban for Shea Weber. It may seem like the Canadiens got the short end of the stick, but Shea Weber has fit in swimmingly in Montreal. Weber and Subban are two different players, and Bergevin had the wherewithal to see that change was necessary. Along with signing Alexander Radulov and locking up Al Montoya, Marc Bergevin is doing what he can to get Montreal to the Stanley Cup Finals.
All stats from hockey-reference.com