Articles

Award Tracker – GM of the Year

In Hockey Hits on April 24, 2011 by geespotting

AWARD TRACKER

GM’S AWARD

…So, the actual nominees are Mike Gillis of the Canucks, Steve Yzerman of the Wings, and David Poile of the Preds. I have some issues. Here is a look at my winner:

WINNER: Mike Gillis, VANCOUVER

 

…A pretty easy choice when you consider the way that the Canucks improved their team in the past year. They added some much needed depth on D when they picked up one of the Summer prizes in Dan Hamhuis. They added a little more toughness in Keith Ballard, a player, who actually had a tough time in cracking the Canuck lineup early in the season, a testament to their depth, even w/ some of the injuries that they had to endure. Up front, Gillis added some more missing pieces in locking up a premiere 3rd liner in Manny Malhotra, someone who has added to their penalty kill, line matching and face-offs. Raffi Torres was another piece, and very inexpensive for what he has brought to the table this year. At the deadline, some more depth was added with Max Lapierre and Chris Higgins being added. The result was the Canucks leading the league in almost every category, as they marched to their first ever Presidents Trophy.

RUNNER UP: Ray Shero, PITTSBURGH

…No offence to the work that nominess Steve Yzerman & David Poile have done, but, Shero was able to cut down the salary size of the Pens in off season after losing Sergei Gonchar, and re-tooling w/ a pair of talented of d-men, but, very different than Gonchar. Zbynek Michalek is a stay at home d-man who excels in hitting and shot-blocking, and was a key pickup by the Pens. They also added Paul Martin, an under-rated player who has both offensive and defensive abilities. It was almost like a 2 for 1 deal, and considering that the Pens would play a lot of this season without Crosby & Malkin, these 2 players would play a huge role in a different Pittsburgh team. Shero would also make some big deals at the deadline. With both Sid & Geno out of the lineup, a deal was made to bring in Alex Kovalev, and then James Neal and Matt Niskanen. Alex Goligoski was the victim, but, with the depth already, and the improved play of Kris Letang, he could be expendable. In the end, Shero has to be commended on re-shaping this team, one that is close to a 2nd round berth.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Peter Chiarelli, BOSTON & George McPhee, WASHINGTON

…First of all, a deal in sending Phil Kessel to Toronto resulted in Chiarelli acquiring the 2nd over all pick in last year’s draft, and getting Tyler Seguin. Other recent picks include Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic. He also dealt for Nathan Horton, who has fit in very well for the Bruins, and then added some more forward depth w/ the under-rated Rich Peverley. Other deals have included picking up the much heralded Tomas Kaberle (even though he has struggled with Beantown so far) and a pretty good penalty killer and checker in Chris Kelly. As for McPhee, he has to be applauded for drafting the likes of Alzner, Carlson, Backstrom and other key pieces to this Cap team. He has added also experience and depth w/ Jason Arnott, Dennis Wideman, and Scott Hannan. That latter player (Hannan) may be the piece to the puzzle that has steered the Caps in their new, yet, winning ways.

SERIES WRAPS:

WEST – (3) DETROIT OVER (6) PHOENIX 4-0.

…Last year, I predicted a Coyote win in game 7, but, they fell short. This year, I said the Wings would win in 7…and again the Dogs fell short. This time…they didn’t even win a game in being easily swept by the Wings. Phoenix should a few signs of getting into the series…but, those signs were short-lived. My MVP was NOT Pavel Datsyuk, but, Jimmy Howard instead. In all 4 games, Howard easily outplayed Ilya Bryzgalov, and made some key saves when it looked like the Coyotes were going to get back into the series. As for Datsyuk, he was the best skater in the series, with most of his magic coming in games one and two. Back in the desert, the Wings showed their depth as players like Cleary, Kronwall, Bertuzzi and Ericsson shined. Were the Coyotes distracted with the constant reports that they may be moving to the ‘Peg? You bet they were, and it certainly showed in their early exit.

EAST- (1) WASHINGTON OVER (8) NEW YORK RANGERS 4-1.

…I thought this series may have gone the distance, but, it was Michal Neuvirth who proved to be the difference, and was my MVP as he was the better goalie, and outplayed Henrik Lundqvist. King Henrik is one of those few goalies who could steal a series, and he did play well, but, Neuvirth was better, and kept the Rangers at bay with his saves, especially considering that this was a very close series. The Rangers did a very good job in limiting the chances of the 1st place Caps, but, the Washington depth was too much, as a different player came to the forefront each game to be the hero. Jason Chimera, Jason Arnott, John Carlson, and Marcus Johannson come to mind with their play, and subsequent big plays in leading to the Caps to a 5 game series win.

…More wraps, and awards still to come!

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