NHL Power Rankings: Ranking the NHL general managers

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In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we turn our focus to the league’s 31 general managers to see who is at the top of the class and doing the best job building their team.

We are looking at a combination of career achievement, as well as current success and the way they have set their team up for the long-term.

Who tops the list?

To this week’s Power Rankings!

The Elites

1. Joe Sakic, Colorado Avalanche. There is not a team in the NHL that is set up for more long-term success than the Avalanche. The Matt Duchene trade could help set up the defense for the next decade, while he has also taken advantage of his salary cap situation to the past two years to stack the depth chart behind his All-Star top line.

2. Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings. His Detroit track record is obviously incomplete, but he was the main architect of a Tampa Bay Lightning team that has been the NHL’s most successful team over the past six years. That counts. A lot. That is also why he gets such a high mark.

3. Doug Armstrong, St. Louis Blues. Since being named general manager a decade ago the Blues have the fourth most wins in the NHL and finally got their championship. The Alex Pietrangelo situation was tough, but they still found a capable replacement in Torey Krug. The trades for Brayden Schenn and Ryan O'Reilly were complete robberies that helped bring the Blues their first Stanley Cup.

4. Julien BriseBois, Tampa Bay Lightning. Even though he has only been the general manager for two years he still had a major hand in building the current roster. He also had an incredible 2020 to get Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, Patrick Maroon, and Kevin Shattenkirk to help bring the Stanley Cup back to Tampa Bay.

5. Don Sweeney, Boston Bruins. His tenure has not been perfect, but the Bruins have a great team with a very manageable salary cap outlook. That is not an easy thing to accomplish.

Established names and strong track records

6. Lou Lamoriello, New York Islanders. He built a mini-dynasty in New Jersey and that will always be part of his story. He has not made a ton of franchise-altering moves with the Islanders (Jean-Gabriel Pageau is significant) but he did bring stability and credibility to an organization that lacked both before he arrived.

7. Jim Nill, Dallas Stars. This guy has never met a blockbuster offseason acquisition that he hasn’t liked. His aggressiveness did not result in success on the ice until recently. Fun fact: Over the past two years no team has won more playoff games than the Stars’ 22.

8. Jim Rutherford, Pittsburgh Penguins. In terms of entertainment value he is in a class all by himself because he never stops trading people. Ever. He has won three Stanley Cups with two different organizations, and that commands respect. There have been a LOT of home runs with the Penguins in terms of his roster moves. He has also had some massive swings and misses. The latter has happened far more frequently the past few years and might closer their window a little faster than it should.

9. Brian MacLellan, Washington Capitals. He helped bring a Stanley Cup to Washington and nobody can ever take that away. They remain a constant contender but there has been some obvious regression the past two years. Overall though, he’s built a strong team that is still a Stanley Cup contender.

Definitely above average 

10. Kelly McCrimmon, Vegas Golden Knights. Since taking over the role he has added Chandler Stephenson, Alec Martinez, Robin Lehner and Alex Pietrangelo to the roster. Salary cap nightmare? Maybe. But also a hell of a team.

11. Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs. The most polarizing general manager in hockey, mainly due to his perception within the insane hellscape that is the Toronto hockey scene. Overall, I like the moves he makes. He has a plan, he sticks to it, and he does not let outside voices dictate his path. The lack of postseason success, combined with Lamoriello’s success in New York, has put a massive target on his back. Winning in the playoffs will change that. Sometimes that requires forces beyond the general manager’s control.

12. Don Waddell, Carolina Hurricanes. Dougie Hamilton, Nino Neiderreiter, Vincent Trocheck, and Brady Skjei are among the players Waddell has acquired since replacing Ron Francis two years, without giving up all that much in return. He also got a first-round pick out of Toronto (No. 13 overall) for eating a portion of Patrick Marleau’s contract.

13. Ken Holland, Edmonton Oilers. The end of his Detroit tenure was not good, but I like his start in Edmonton as he attempts to clean up Peter Chiarelli’s mess. This offseason has been especially productive with the cheap additions of Tyson Barrie, Kyle Turris, and Dominik Kahun.

The middle ground

14. Jeff Gorton, New York Rangers. There have been some missteps here and there, but overall there is a pretty clear plan in place and a lot of impact talent added to the organization. Some draft lottery luck has helped (a top-two pick in each of the past two years!) as did a huge free agent score in Artemi Panarin. The big criticism in the short-term is the fact they have nearly $14 million in dead money on the books this season. That is insane.

15. Doug Wilson, San Jose Sharks. A few years ago he is in the top-five, easily. But the Sharks have badly regressed, their salary cap situation is rough, and he ignored the goalie situation for two years when the team was supposed to be a contender. That was completely reckless.

16. Rob Blake, Los Angeles Kings. He inherited a team on the decline and is in the process of tearing it all down. The Kings have one of the league’s best farm systems and a loaded talent pool to build from. There is a foundation being built here, even if it takes time to see it pay off.

17. Chuck Fletcher, Philadelphia Flyers. His biggest moves have been acquiring Kevin Hayes and Matt Niskanen. He paid Hayes a ton of money, but so far it has worked out. The Niskanen trade was a solid talent-for-talent swap, but Niskanen retired after just one year. He has not dramatically altered the course of the franchise in one direction or another.

18. Marc Bergevin, Montreal Canadiens. He makes a lot of trades that seem like losses for him initially and then turn out to be wins. He’s actually had some GREAT moves. But the on-ice results remain completely mediocre. He had a strong offseason on paper this year. How the team does as a result might make-or-break my perception of him.

[More: ProHockeyTalk Free Agency Tracker]

19. Jarmo Kekalainen, Columbus Blue Jackets. The Artemi Panarin and Seth Jones trades were massive wins that helped make the Blue Jackets a consistent playoff team, something that they had NEVER been before. Now it is time to take the next step and no longer be happy to simply make the playoffs.

20. Brad Treliving, Calgary Flames. The Flames draft and develop fairly well, but they make some absolutely bonkers decisions in free agency and in the offseason under Treliving. In a couple years we might look back at this offseason and wonder what they were thinking. Some might already be doing that.

21. David Poile, Nashville Predators. The Predators they are a team trending in the wrong direction while Poile has had some significant missteps along the way. Big picture? He has done a good job in Nashville, literally helping to build the team from the ground up. But most general managers that get 22 years and untouchable job security with a single team usually have more to show for it than just one trip out of the second round of the playoffs.

22. Kevin Cheveldayoff, Winnipeg Jets. He has been busier in recent years, but he remains one of the least active general managers in the NHL. He doesn’t make many bad moves, and he doesn’t make many great moves. Mostly because he rarely makes any moves.

Too soon to tell

23. Bill Guerin, Minnesota Wild. I think his first year has been mostly fine (love the Nick Bonino trade; like the value for Jason Zucker), but it’s been just that: One year.

24. Tom Fitzgerald, New Jersey Devils. His initial moves revolved around purging a disappointing roster. He found good value in his early trades, and I love the Corey Crawford signing.

These guys should be on the hot seat

25. Pierre Dorion, Ottawa Senators. Three years ago the Senators were a double overtime Game 7 away from the Stanley Cup Final. Today, nobody from that team remains on the roster. That says more about ownership than Dorion, whose hands have been tied. The Senators have a ton of draft picks to work with and an improving farm system, but ownership will still dictate what this thing becomes.

26. Bob Murray, Anaheim Ducks. My biggest criticism here is the Ducks just do not seem to have any real direction. This is not a playoff team.  They continue to act like they are a playoff team. That means it will be longer before they actually become a playoff team again.

27. Stan Bowman, Chicago Blackhawks. Banners hang forever, and every great team will eventually have to pay the piper for its success. I feel like Chicago’s time in that regard came sooner than it needed to through mismanagement and an inability to cut the chord with players they won with. Loyalty is great, but in a bottom-line business it does not always win. He also lost three separate Brandon Saad trades which is completely baffling. The rebuild is off to a rocky start.

28. Jim Benning, Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks have hit some major home runs in the draft despite never picking higher than fifth during their rebuild. Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Quinn Hughes are superstars that are going to make this team a must-see. But the cap management here is a complete disaster and ultimately cost them a good playerTyler Toffoli — that they paid a significant price for at the trade deadline just a few months earlier. It has also resulted in an incredibly top-heavy roster.

Not enough track record to rank

Kevyn Adams, Buffalo Sabres. He has only been in charge for six months, but they have been an eventful six months. Taylor Hall, Eric Staal, and Cody Eakin are strong pickups. But they are still only one-year commitments for a team that has major long-term issues.

Bill Zito, Florida Panthers. He is continuing the Panthers’ recent tradition of front office change and massive roster overhaul. Hopefully he has better luck than the people before him.

Bill Armstrong, Arizona Coyotes. He has some challenges ahead.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews returns to ice, hints at retirement

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
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CHICAGO — Longtime Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews returned to the ice but hinted his stellar NHL career could be winding down after 15 years.

Toews, 34, skated with teammates prior to Chicago’s game with the Dallas Stars. It was his first time practicing with them since a game in Edmonton on Jan. 28.

He made a statement through the team on Feb. 19 saying he would be stepping away because of the effects of Chronic Immune Response Syndrome and “long COVID.”

In meeting with reporters, Toews stopped short of saying he hoped to play in any of last-place Chicago’s nine remaining games. His eight-year, $84 million contract is set to expire at the end of the season.

Toews said he’s feeling stronger, but isn’t sure if he’ll be able to play again for the Blackhawks or another team.

“Both if I’m being fully honest,” Toews said. “I feel like I’ve said it already, that I’ve gotten to the point where my health is more important.

“When you’re young and you’re playing for a Stanley Cup and everyone’s playing through something, that means something and it’s worthwhile. But I’m at that point where it feels like more damage is being done than is a good thing.”

Toews, the Blackhawks’ first-round draft pick (third overall) in 2006, joined the team in 2007 and was a pillar of Stanley Cup championship clubs in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

At the peak of his career, he was one of the NHL’s top two-way centers, winning the Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward in 2013.

In 1,060 regular-season games, Toews has 371 goals and 509 assists. In 139 playoff games, he’s posted 45 goals and 74 assists, and he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2010.

Toews missed the entire 2020-21 season with Chronic Immune Response System, which caused debilitating inflammation and fatigue.

He appeared in 71 games in 2021-22, then started this season with renewed energy before slowing and eventually shutting himself down.

Entering this season, it looked as if Chicago might deal him, as it did fellow star Patrick Kane, before the March trade deadline. But Kane went to the New York Rangers and Toews to injured reserve.

Toews believed he was progressing before a relapse in January left him so sore and tired that he could barely “put on my skates or roll out of bed to come to the rink.”

Toews said his progress over the past month has been “pretty encouraging” and he’s delighted to be back among his teammates. He has no timetable beyond that.

“We’re just going to go day by day here,” Chicago coach Luke Richardson said. He deserves anything he wants to try to achieve here.”

Richardson hoped Toews “can take that next step later in the week and hopefully (he) gives us the green light to go in a game.”

But Toews emphasized his long-term health and ability to lead a “normal life” is most important. He wants to go out on a positive note and not hit the ice for a game playing through excessive pain and dysfunction.

“It’s definitely on my mind that this could be my last few weeks here as a Blackhawk in Chicago,” Toews said. “It’s definitely very important for me to go out there and enjoy the game and just kind of soak it in and just really appreciate everything I’ve been able to be part of here in Chicago.”

Budding Wild star Matt Boldy more willing to shoot, and it shows

Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Matt Boldy was unable to resist a smile in the aftermath of his second hat trick in five games for the Minnesota Wild, a young right wing and reluctant star trying to make sense of a remarkable hot streak.

Does the puck feel as if it’s automatically going in the net these days each time he shoots?

“Yeah, it does,” Boldy said in the locker room after leading the first-place Wild to a 5-1 win over Seattle. “My linemates are playing great. Hopefully you guys are giving them a lot of credit. You look at some of those goals – just putting it on a tee for me.”

This non-attention-seeker has found himself squarely in the NHL spotlight. Boldy has 11 goals in nine games since Wild superstar Kirill Kaprizov was sidelined with a lower-body injury to raise his goal total to 28, in part because he’s been more willing to shoot. With vision and stickhandling as strengths and the humility of being a second-year player, it’s easy to be in a pass-first mindset.

“Everybody kind of took turns talking to him. But it’s not that he didn’t want to. A lot of times a situation like that where a guy’s got that skillset, it’s a real unselfish quality, right?” coach Dean Evason said. “But I think he gets now that he helps the team a lot when he scores goals.”

The Wild were confident enough in Boldy’s scoring ability to commit a seven-year, $49 million contract extension to him earlier this winter, after all.

“I think I’ve always had that mentality, but sometimes you just get into spots and it comes off your stick good,” Boldy said. “When things are going well, the puck goes in the net.”’

The Wild are 6-1-2 without Kaprizov. Boldy is a big reason why.

“You go through the slumps, you learn what you need to do to score. I think he’s found a good way to be in the right spot and shoot the puck when he had a good opportunity,” center Joel Eriksson Ek said.

The Wild have only won one division title in 22 years, the five-team Northwest Division in 2007-08. They’re leading the eight-team Central Division with eight games to go, with both Colorado and Dallas too close for comfort. They haven’t won a playoff series since 2015.

With Kaprizov due back before the postseason and Boldy on this heater, a Wild team that ranks just 23rd in the league in goals per game (2.93) ought to have a better chance to advance. Eriksson Ek and Marcus Johansson have been ideal linemates for the Boston College product and Massachusetts native.

Since the Wild entered the league in the 2000-01 season, only five NHL players have had more hat tricks at age 21 or younger than Boldy with three: Patrik Laine (eight), Marian Gaborik (five), Steven Stamkos (five), Alex DeBrincat (four) and Connor McDavid (four). Boldy turns 22 next week, so there’s still time for one or two more.

“He’s big. He controls the puck a lot. He’s got a good shot, good release. He’s smart. He switches it up. He’s got good moves on breakaways. He’s a total player,” goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. ”Fun to watch him grow this year.”

Pezzetta scores shootout winner; Canadiens beat Sabres 4-3

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Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports

BUFFALO, N.Y. ⁠— Brendan Gallagher and the Montreal Canadiens rallied back to avoid playoff elimination with less than three weeks left in their season. The Buffalo Sabres, meanwhile, are running out of chances to stay in the Eastern Conference wild-card hunt.

Gallagher forced overtime by scoring his 200th career goal, and Michael Pezzetta scored the decisive shootout goal in a 4-3 win over the Sabres on Monday night.

“It’s one of those things I think we earned that chance. We weren’t fantastic but we did enough on the road tonight to get a win,” Gallagher said. “Smiles all around.”

The Canadiens could laugh, especially after Pezzetta celebrated his goal by putting his stick between his legs and riding it like a wooden horse — much like former NHL tough guy Dave “Tiger” Williams did during his 14-year NHL career spanning the 1970s and 80s.

“I’m not sure we’ll see that again. One of a kind,” said Gallagher. “I’d be worried about falling over.”

Pezzetta scored by driving in from the right circle to beat Eric Comrie inside the far post. Buffalo’s Jack Quinn scored in the fourth shootout round, but was matched by Montreal’s Jesse Ylonen, whose shot from in tight managed to trickle in through Comrie.

Jordan Harris and Alex Belzile also scored for Montreal, and Jake Allen stopped 30 shots through overtime, while allowing one goal on six shootout attempts.

Montreal would have been eliminated from playoff contention for a second straight season – and two years removed from reaching the Stanley Cup Final – with any type of loss.

The Sabres squandered a 3-2 third-period lead to drop to 3-6-3 in their past 12. Buffalo also blew a chance to move to within four points of idle Pittsburgh, which holds the eighth and final playoff spot.

“Just a little hesitation,” forward JJ Peterka said of the Sabres third-period lapse. “We didn’t play with much energy and we didn’t play that aggressive as we played the two periods before. I think that was the difference.”

Buffalo’s Lukas Rousek scored a goal and added an assist while filling in for leading scorer Tage Thompson, who did not play due to an upper body injury. Peterka and defenseman Riley Stillman also scored, and Comrie stopped 38 shots through overtime, and allowed two goals on six shootout attempts.

Montreal blew two one-goal leads to fall behind 3-2 on Stillman’s goal at the 8:31 mark of the second period.

Gallagher scored on the fly by using Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin as a screen to snap in a shot inside the far left post. With the goal, Gallagher tied Bobby Rousseau for 24th on the Canadiens career scoring list.

“I liked the way we corrected ourselves, it’s a sign of maturity, in the way we stayed on task,” Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis said, in recalling how the Canadiens recently unraveled in an 8-4 loss two weeks ago to Colorado, which plays a similar up-tempo style as Buffalo.


The Sabres hosted their third Pride Night, with Russian D Ilya Lyubushkin electing not to participate in warmups by citing an anti-gay Kremlin law and fears of retribution at home in Moscow, where he has family and visits in the offseason. The remainder of the team wore dark blue jerseys with the Sabres logo on the front encircled by a rainbow-colored outline.

During the first intermission, the Sabres broadcast a video in which GM Kevyn Adams said: “This is about recognizing someone’s humanity and true identity. We know there are people out there struggling with who they are, and we want them to know that they have an ally in the Buffalo Sabres.”


Canadiens: At the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.

Sabres: Host the New York Rangers on Friday night.

Flyers chairman Scott to retire; Hilferty becomes successor

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

PHILADELPHIA — Dave Scott will retire as chairman of the Philadelphia Flyers’ parent company Comcast Spectacor and be replaced by Dan Hilferty.

Hilferty, who was recently named CEO of Comcast Spectacor, will succeed Scott as chairman of the company on April 17 and as the team’s governor on July 1.

Scott joined Comcast Spectacor in December 2013 and the Flyers have struggled under his reign. They will miss the playoffs for a third straight season and haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1975.

“Our number one goal for the Flyers will be to consistently compete for the Stanley Cup,” Hilferty said. “It is going to be a process that will take time to get on that path, but I’m confident we are headed in the right direction with Danny Briere as interim GM, Coach Tortorella, and our hiring of a President of Hockey Operations soon. Our leadership team will be fully focused to deliver on this for our fans while also continuing to make the sports complex the best location for sports and entertainment in the nation.”

As Chairman and CEO of Comcast Spectacor, Hilferty will lead the company’s entire portfolio, including the Philadelphia Flyers. Spectacor Sports and Entertainment CEO Valerie Camillo will continue to work directly with Hilferty, overseeing the Wells Fargo Center, including its continued transformation, and lead the Flyers’ business operations.