NHL Power Rankings: General manager ranking tiers

1 Comment

In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take a look at the league’s general manager rankings, from the best of the best, to the people that might be on the hot seat by the end of the season.

General managers are the polar opposite when it comes to head coaches in terms of job security, with 15 of them having been in their current position since before 2016. By comparison, only four head coaches have been employed with their teams for that long, and only two of them preceded 2014. While general managers overall tend to have more job security, some have been way more successful than others. We explore that a little bit here.

Where does your team’s general manager rank?

To this weeks NHL Power Rankings!

The Elites

1. Julien BriseBois, Tampa Bay Lightning. When you build a back-to-back Stanley Cup winner in the salary cap era and have had a hand in building the best team in the league over the past seven years, you get the top spot. No questions asked.

2. Joe Sakic, Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche still need to get through the Second Round hurdle, but they should get there. Sakic has built a powerhouse team that is set up to compete for years.

3. Lou Lamoriello, New York Islanders. Yes, a lot of the Islanders’ core was already in place when he arrived, but he has made a lot of strong complementary moves and brought credibility and consistency to an organization that badly lacked both. They have had more playoff success in his three years than they did in the previous 25 years.

The Rest Of The Best

4. Don Sweeney, Boston Bruins. The Bruins’ farm system is weak, but the NHL roster is still very strong and has been one of the league’s best for years. Getting Taylor Hall for nothing at the deadline and then re-signing him to a team-friendly multi-year deal is a big series of wins.

5. Brian MacLellan, Washington Capitals. The Capitals have an aging roster that is probably going to need a rebuild soon, but MacLellan has helped build a consistent Stanley Cup contender, a team that is always in contention to win its division (and usually does) and has his name on the Stanley Cup.

6. Bill Zito, Florida Panthers. Maybe this is high for a general manager that has been on the job for less than two years, but he has done a magnificent job in that time and quickly turned the Panthers into a serious contender.

7. Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings. A lot of this ranking is admittedly based on his work in Tampa Bay. The Red Wings rebuild is taking some time, but everybody knew that was going to be the case.

8. Kelly McCrimmon, Vegas Golden Knights. There is not a blockbuster move that this team does not love. The Golden Knights have one of the best rosters in the league and have been in the semifinals in three of their first four years.

9. Don Waddell, Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes roster is stacked with high level players in the prime of their careers and should be a Stanley Cup contender. Waddell has made a lot of the right moves in recent years, but did make some head-scratching moves this summer (the goalie situation; the Tony DeAngelo blunder) that could slide him back a bit.

10. Doug Armstrong, St. Louis Blues. The Ryan O'Reilly trade turned the Blues into a Stanley Cup champion and is one of the most one-sided trades in recent memory. He has had a couple of missteps since then, but he has still built a consistent contender in St. Louis.

[Related: Every free agent signing by all 32 NHL teams]

The middle ground

11. Jim Nill, Dallas Stars. The Stars did regress significantly this past season, but injuries played a major role in that. When healthy this was a team that had won five playoff series over a two-year stretch and was knocking on the door of a Stanley Cup. There is also something to like about a general manager that swings for the fences in his roster moves.

12. Kevin Cheveldayoff, Winnipeg Jets. For the longest time he was one of the most inactive and patience general managers in the league. He has been a little busier in recent years and made some strong moves to improve the roster. The Jacob Trouba trade is an underrated win.

13. Rob Blake, Los Angeles Kings. There is a lot of projection here, but the Kings have a great future ahead of them thanks to the farm system Blake has built. Adding Phillip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson this offseason really help in the short-term.

14. Chuck Fletcher, Philadelphia Flyers. Carter Hart will determine what ultimately happens with the Flyers. Hated the Rasmus Ristolainen trade this offseason, but there is a lot to like about the Ryan Ellis and Cam Atkinson moves.

15. Marc Bergevin, Montreal Canadiens. He makes a lot of trades that end up working out, but the on-ice results do not always match up. The Stanley Cup Final appearance was the perfect storm of a bizarre schedule, an unbalanced schedule, the right division, and a hot goalie. Drafting Logan Mallioux was a black eye after such a storybook season.

16. Bill Guerin, Minnesota Wild. He has done a solid job so far, but wow does he have his work cut out for him over the next couple of seasons with that salary cap situation.

17. Ron Hextall, Pittsburgh Penguins. Hextall takes patience to an entirely new level. Getting Jeff Carter was great. His handling of the expansion draft situation? Not ideal. The Penguins, as of now, have a slightly weaker roster than they did a year ago.

18. Tom Fitzgerald, New Jersey Devils. I like a lot of the moves that Fitzgerald has made, especially this offseason, but there is still a lot of unknown here and where the Devils go.

The fading star tier

19. Doug Wilson, San Jose Sharks. A few years ago he would have been in the top-10, but the Sharks’ long-term outlook is one of the bleakest in the league right now.

20. Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs. It seems that a lot of his moves the past couple of years have run counter to what made the Maple Leafs such a promising team and him such a rising star general manager. At some point his roster has to do something — like win a playoff series — to justify all of the hype.

21. Ken Holland, Edmonton Oilers. Those Stanley Cup years in Detroit are starting to be a distant memory. Holland has not really done a lot to maximize the Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl prime years.

22. David Poile, Nashville Predators. There are some bad contracts here and now the Predators are going to try one of those competitive rebuilds that never work. The longest tenured general manager in hockey, his job still seems secure.

Too soon to know Tier

23. Ron Francis, Seattle Kraken. He has some track record with Carolina but that was a few years ago. The initial Seattle roster seems like some missed opportunities.

24. Chris Drury, New York Rangers. He is inheriting what should be a good situation, a young team with a proven superstar (Artemi Panarin) and great young talent. Let’s see what he does with this roster.

25. Bill Armstrong, Arizona Coyotes. Right now his job is about tearing down the roster and starting a true full scale rebuild. Lot of draft picks to work with. What they do with them will obviously determine everything.

26. Kevyn Adams, Buffalo Sabres. He can not miss on a Jack Eichel trade. That will set the franchise back even further than it already is.

The Hot seat tier

27. Brad Treliving, Calgary Flames. He has been running for the Flames for seven years with mixed results. There have been some playoff appearances, but no playoff success. Not a bad team, not a contender. Just mediocre.

28. Jarmo Kekalainen, Columbus Blue Jackets. The only real success of his time in Columbus came when they went all in at the trade deadline to win a single playoff round.

29. Bob Murray, Anaheim Ducks. Honestly it seems crazy to even put him in this tier because no matter what happens with the Ducks his spot seems secure. The Ducks just seem like a directionless team right now without much of a plan.

30. Pierre Dorion, Ottawa Senators. There are some good pieces here, but there have been some mistakes. The Mark Stone trade looks questionable, and the Matt Murray contract is a problem.

31. Stan Bowman, Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks haven’t been good in four years and a lot of that is the result of some major missteps by Bowman. I am not sure all of the money they spent this offseason is going to fix that because even those moves are questionable. And that is just the hockey related reasons for why he should be on the hot seat. There is still the questions of his handling of the sexual assault allegations the team is facing. Put all of that together and it is kind of surprising he is still with the team.

32. Jim Benning, Vancouver Canucks. After all of this time the Canucks are still a middle of the pack team at best, and a disappointment at worst. They have a great young core, but the supporting cast has been weak. They operate like they are one player away from being a Stanley Cup contender, but they are never close to that.

Sabres agree with Dylan Cozens on 7-year, $49.7M extension

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Sabres agreed to terms with forward Dylan Cozens on a seven-year extension worth $49.7 million.

The team announced the contract. Cozens will count $7.1 million against the salary cap through the 2029-30 season.

Cozens, who turns 22, is the latest core player the Sabres have extended over the past six months. Buffalo signed All-Star forward Tage Thompson for $50 million over seven seasons in August and defenseman Mattias Samuelsson to a seven-year, $30 million deal in October.

Rasmus Dahlin, the top pick in 2020 who’s a Norris Trophy candidate and filled in for Thompson at NHL All-Star weekend, figures to be next for a big contract. He’s signed through next season and can begin talking about an extension this summer.

Cozens, who was set to be a restricted free agent, has already set career highs with 17 goals, 26 assists and 43 points – with 30 games left in the season. The seventh pick in 2019, Cozens has 34 goals and 60 assists in 169 regular-season NHL games, all with Buffalo.

The Sabres, led by Dahlin, Thompson, Cozens and 2021 No. 1 pick Owen Power, are contending to make the playoffs. The organization’s 11-year playoff drought dating to 2011 is by far the longest in the league.

Stanley Cup champion Avalanche steadily returning to health

avalanche injuries
André Ringuette/Getty Images
1 Comment

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Had his coach been watching, this might have made for an anxious moment: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar catching an edge and falling in the fastest skater contest.

Jared Bednar wasn’t tuned in, though, and had no idea what happened in the skills contest over All-Star weekend. Only that Makar emerged from his crash into the boards just fine.

These days, things are definitely looking up for the Stanley Cup champions on the injury front. Defenseman Bowen Byram returns to the lineup, along with forward Valeri Nichushkin. Defenseman Josh Manson is creeping closer to a return. Same for captain Gabriel Landeskog, who’s yet to play this season. Forward Darren Helm is progressing, too.

In spite of all their bumps and bruises, the Avalanche entered the All-Star break in a playoff spot. To weather the injury storm, Colorado has relied on 39 different skaters this season, a mark that’s tied for the most in a single season since the team relocated to Denver in 1995.

“Anybody we can get back right now is huge,” said Makar, whose team kicks off a three-game trip Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.

Byram returns after being sidelined with a lower-body injury since early November. He was an integral part of their Stanley Cup run a season ago, when he led all rookies with nine assists in the postseason. Byram was off to a fast start this season – two goals and three assists in 10 games – before his injury.

“He’s looking great. He’s buzzing out there,” Makar said of his fellow blue liner. “Hopefully it doesn’t take him too long to get back into game mode. But I think he’s a guy that can turn it on pretty quickly.”

Byram missed a chunk of games last season as he dealt with concussion symptoms. This time, he was able to be around the team as he worked his way back.

“I was just happy it wasn’t my head,” Byram said. “It was a lot easier to be out when you’re still feeling good and feel like yourself. … I’m just excited to get going again.”

Count on Byram for as many minutes as necessary, too.

“I’m 100%, so no reason to ease into it,” Byram said. “I’m confident with jumping back in.”

Manson will join the Avalanche on the trip so he can skate with the squad. He’s been out with a lower-body injury since the start of December.

“I do think it helps to get on the road, be around the guys,” Bednar said.

Landeskog could be back “fairly soon,” Bednar said, but didn’t have a definitive timeline quite yet. The longtime Avalanche captain has been sidelined since knee surgery in October.

The Avalanche entered the All-Star break on quite a roll, winning seven of their last eight. They’ve amassed 57 points, which trails Dallas (66 points at the All-Star break), Winnipeg (65) and Minnesota (58) in the Central Division.

One thing the Avalanche are guarding against is another slow start out off the break. It happened over Christmas when the team had a few days off and promptly went 0-4-1 upon their return.

“It’s just shifting the mentality back to game mode. No more vacation,” Makar said. “We still have a long way to go. We’re not where we want to be right now. But there’s a lot of time left.”

Kraken add some size, acquire Jaycob Megna from San Jose

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

SEATTLE — The Seattle Kraken acquired defenseman Jaycob Megna from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2023 fourth-round draft pick.

Megna is in the midst of his best season with 12 points in 48 games for the Sharks while averaging more than 19 minutes per game.

“Jaycob has shown with his play this season that he is a responsible defenseman that can be relied on in all situations,” Seattle general manager Ron Francis said. “He provides welcome depth to our defensive group and we are happy to have him join our organization.”

The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Megna will add some size and bulk to Seattle’s lineup. Megna ranked fifth for San Jose in both blocked shots and hits.

Megna previously played for Anaheim for parts of three seasons between 2016-19. The 48 games played this season is a career-high for the 30-year-old.

Seattle is tied for the lead in the Pacific Division and will return from the All-Star break beginning against the New York Islanders.

Islanders sign Bo Horvat to 8-year deal after trading for him

Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Islanders signed center Bo Horvat to an eight-year contract less than a week after acquiring him in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks.

The team announced the contract after their first practice following the All-Star break. Horvat’s deal is worth $68 million and carries a $8.5 million salary cap hit through the 2030-31 season.

General manager Lou Lamoriello joked to reporters at practice on Long Island that Horvat’s contract was “too long and it’s too much money.”

The Islanders sent forward Anthony Beauvillier, prospect Aatu Raty and a protected first-round pick to the Canucks for Horvat . He was set to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and the trade was a result of Vancouver and Horvat’s camp being unable to reach a deal last summer.

Lamoriello and Horvat expressed confidence about getting a deal done after the trade. The 27-year-old has scored more than 30 goals for a second consecutive season.

Horvat was chosen as an All-Star and played for the Pacific Division despite the trade. He played with longtime Canucks teammate Elias Pettersson and combined on one last goal together before parting ways.

“I want to get going,” Horvat said after the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament. “That’s enough. Let’s start playing some games and getting to know the guys. I just want to start playing hockey again.”

Horvat was on vacation with his family in Orlando when he was traded. He said coach Lane Lambert wanted him to enjoy All-Star festivities before getting rolling with the Islanders, who play at the Philadelphia Flyers.

“Obviously getting my legs under me is going to be No. 1 and getting systems down and obviously chemistry with the new linemates and stuff like that,” Horvat said.

After facing the Flyers and Seattle, Horvat will play against his former team when Vancouver visits UBS Arena.