Bergevin, Lamoriello, Zito are Jim Gregory GM of the Year Award finalists

Jim Gregory Award
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Marc Bergevin of the Canadiens, Lou Lamoriello of the Islanders, and Bill Zito of the Panthers are the three finalists for the 2020-21 Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award.

The award, named after the late longtime NHL executive, is voted on by the 31 GMs, plus a panel of League executives, print and broadcast media following the Second Round of the playoffs.

Lamoriello won the award last season.

The case for Bergevin: After entering the season with a murky future on Montreal, Bergevin’s team has reached the Stanley Cup Semifinals for the first time since 2014. During free agency, he added key members to the team like Joel Edmundson, Corey Perry, Eric Staal, and Josh Anderson. Following the NCAA season, Bergevin, now a three-time Jim Gregory finalist, added 2019 first-round pick Cole Caufield to his forward group. Toffoli led the team in scoring during the regular season and that prowess has continued into the playoffs. Staal and Perry have combined for 15 points in the Canadiens 13 games this postseason. Caufield, meanwhile, netted four goals in his first 10 NHL games.

In February, the GM made the decision to fire head coach Claude Julien, replacing him with Dominique Ducharme. The switch has paid off in the postseason with the Canadiens finishing off the Jets in the Second Round with a streak of 437:53 without trailing.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 schedule, TV info]

The case for Lamoriello: The Islanders are back in the Stanley Cup Semifinals for the second straight postseason following some key acquisitions. Goaltender Ilya Sorokin, a 2014 draft pick, came over from the KHL and has played 28 regular season and playoff games in a tandem with Semyon Varlamov. At the trade deadline, Lamoriello added old friends Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac following the season-ending injury to captain Anders Lee.

Lamoriello is the first GM to be a finalist in back-to-back seasons since Bob Murray of the Ducks in 2012-13 to 2014-15.

The case for Zito: A win would make Zito the first rookie GM to take home the award. In his first year with the Panthers, he reshaped their forward group, adding Anthony Duclair, Patric Hornqvist, Carter Verhaeghe, and Alex Wennberg in the off-season. He then acquired Sam Bennett at the trade deadline and all five players had big impacts on Florida’s successful regular season. The Panthers set franchise records in goals-per-game (3.36) and points percentage (.705) under the leadership of Zito and head coach Joel Quenneville.

The winner will be announced on Monday, June 21 during NBCSN’s pre-game coverage of Islanders-Lightning.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.