Earlier this week, the National Hockey League announced the finalists for the 2013 General Manager of the Year. The final three candidates are represented by Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens, Bob Murray of the Anaheim Ducks, and Ray Shero of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Marc Bergevin is in his first season as the GM in Montreal, having arrived on the scene just twelve months ago. Upon inheriting a team that finished dead-last in the Eastern Conference, Bergevin raised some eyebrows in hiring Michel Therrien as his head coach. All the new GM and coach did was turn that 15th-seeded squad into the second seed this season, winning their first Northeast Division crown since 2008. Despite many scouts questioning how Alex Galchenyuk would respond to a major knee injury in his draft year, Bergevin went with his gut and drafted the talented American forward with the third-overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, thus far a good move on his part.
Bob Murray, in his fifth season as the architect of the Anaheim Ducks, certainly had a busy season. As a yearly summer exercise in Southern California, Murray was forced to convince future Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne to put off retirement and return to the Quack Pack. Murray also upgraded his defense and goaltending by bringing in Sheldon Souray and Viktor Fasth, respectively. Fasth may have been the discovery of the year, as the 30-year-old goaltender seemingly came out of nowhere to provide Anaheim with two quality netminders. In his first “full” (see: shortened) season behind the bench, Murray’s hire of Bruce Boudreau has been another good hiring. However, Murray’s magic this season can best be revealed in his re-signings of both of Anaheim’s franchise forwards, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. People wondered which of the two, if not both, Murray would be forced to trade during the season or see walk away at the end of it. Instead, Murray extended both of them and saw his team bounce back from 13th in the Western Conference the previous season to the second seed this time around, running away with the Pacific Division.
Ray Shero is seemingly in consideration for the GM of the Year Award every year, and this year is no exception. The seventh-year GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins got the wheeling-and-dealing started right on draft day, making a move that would satisfy both the future and the present by acquiring one of the league’s better third line centers in Brandon Sutter for Jordan Staal, who was in the last year of his contract. In another offseason move that is really paying dividends right now, Shero acquired goaltender Tomas Vokoun. Shero’s roster impressed all season long, barely skipping a beat while sustaining injuries to Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang. Without surrendering a single player off of his current roster, Shero made moves in-and-around the NHL Trade Deadline to bring in Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Jussi Jokinen, and Douglas Murray. The Pens won the Atlantic Division and finished as the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
Per NHL.com, the General Manager of the Year Award is “an annual award presented to recognize the work of the league’s general managers” and is voted on by “the 30 club general managers and a panel of NHL executives, print and broadcast media.” My choice for this season’s award is Bob Murray. Bergevin’s major blemish was the holdout that lasted into the early stages of the season with then-restricted free agent P.K. Subban. Shero did a fine job this season, though the lure for other players to play alongside Crosby and Malkin seems to take care of a lot of the recruiting itself. Murray, on the other hand, brought in a gem of a goaltender, hired the right coach, and defied the odds by extending not one, but both of Getzlaf and Perry. Murray is my pick for the 2013 GM of the Year.
Who do you think deserves to win GM of the Year: one of the three finalists or someone else entirely? Comment below or tweet me @BostonNumber9 (or my team @TMMotS) to let us know who you feel should win this and any of the other end of season awards.