The Flyers have a proud tradition and with 10 selections to the NHL Rookie All Star team since the inception of the team, the Flyers rank only behind Chicago and Montreal's 11 selections. The problem is that Joni Pitkanen in 2004 was the last one, and the only others this century were Brian Boucher and Simon Gagne in 2000. Historically ownership in Philadelphia has been patient with its General Managers, and with the amount of work that is ahead its patience will have to be extended yet again.
If Hextall doesn't become his worst enemy like he often did while playing he will have a chance to succeed .
Tim Murray - Sabres - B-
Some may have thought that Tim Murray would succeed his uncle in as GM in Ottawa, others probably thought if it wasn't for his uncle he probably wouldn't be in hockey, for us, Tim Murray and the Sabres can be summed up by the expression 'Horses for Courses'.
Tim Murray indeed has followed his uncle across the United States and into Canada, with only Tim's stop in New York not coinciding with his uncle's travels.
|02-05||Anaheim||Director of Player Personnel|
|07-14||Ottawa||Ass. GM & GM AHL Team|
In an interview with the National Post this May before the draft Tim Murray was quoted as saying his team's success depends on what he does with their three selections in the second round. Looking at the latter round drafts where Murray has been since Detroit shows that he has been part of unparalleled success in the latter rounds.
Murray's season in Detroit coincided with the Wings taking Matthieu Dandenault (94/2/49) who played 868 games and won a Stanley Cup with Detroit. Obviously something was learned because while he was with the Panthers, they drafted 13 non First Rounders that went on to play over 174 games. For the 12 position players the median games played was 397 and the average 414. (Goalie Alex Auld played 237).
Thinking that this only happened in Florida is wrong. His success with position players taken after the first round is consistently good everywhere he has been (Goalies Auld & Lehner excluded in the table below).
To put it into perspective, Tim Murray was directly involved in teams drafting 23 non First Rounders (position players) that have played an average of 374 games with a median number of games of 282. And counting!
With 3 more First Round picks this year we think once Murray gets all his supporting staff in place the Sabres will soon be an elite team.
Ron Hextall - Flyers - B+
An Enigma as a player, rating Hextall as a GM is just as puzzling. Hextall's DNA is Orange and Black and he has already proved that you can go home again, and again.
Dean Lombardi became the General Manager of the Kings in April, 2006 and he immediately targeted Hextall for his staff. In June, 2006 Hextall left his Flyers position of Director of Professional Player Personnel to be Vice President and Assistant GM of the Kings.
Hextall joined the Flyers front office as a Scout in 1999 after retiring as a player and was promoted to Director in 2002. From 2000 to 2003, the Flyers drafted 5 players that have 10 Stanley Cups between them, but it goes without saying that none were with the Flyers. In fact, through last season these 5 players played 1,298 games but only 37.9% of the were with the Flyers. More importantly, 3 of them, Williams, Richards and Carter won a Cup together along side Lombardi and Hextall in 2012. There can be little doubt that Hextall had Lombardi's ear in acquiring these players.
In May 2014, Hextall was appointed GM of the Flyers, but we for one believe he was co-GM upon his return on July 15, 2013. But as is usually the case with the Flyers it becomes muddled, and of course if it is the Flyers, Goaltending provides plenty of the mud.
Hollmgren either wasn't sure Hextall would return to Philadelphia in 2013 or he blatantly believed he knew best as he bought out Briere & Bryzgalov (of the monster contract) in June 2013, and then signed Lecavalier (5 yrs 22.5 million), Giroux and Emery right before Hextall arrived.
Because Clarke and Holmgren had not drafted a Goalie who played a complete game for the Flyers since Roman Cechmanek was drafted in 2000, Hextall walked into a Goaltending duo of Mason and Emery. In fact, Joacim Eriksson (2008/7/196) played one game for the Canucks last year, and that is the only game that Flyers draftees have played since Cechmanek. (Note: Clarke draftees Martin Houle played 2 minutes & Jeremy Duchesne played 17 minutes for the Flyers in net).
Holmgren obtained Mason in April, 2013 after 3 mediocre seasons in Columbus and despite only playing 20 games in the 2012-13 season ( 7 of them with the Flyers) Holmgren or Hextall or both, ultimately had little choice but to extend Mason in January 2014 & resign Emery in the summer of 2014.
Hextall would have had significant input into the rebuild of the Kings Cup Winning Defense, i.e. Doughey, Voynov, Martinez (draft), Mitchell, Scuderi (UFA) and Greene (trade) and he will need to use everything he has learned in Philadelphia. Hextall has shown an interest in defense early on as his first draft as a GM produced 3 defensemen including a first rounder pick and a 20 year old Swede with his last pick, however, his 6 year extension of MacDonald is questionable at best .
Ron Francis - Hurricanes - D+
A Whaler and Hurricane Icon, Hall of Famer Francis was drafted fourth overall by the Whalers in 1981. Francis, however, is more than symbolically tied to the Hurricanes as he is a part owner having purchased a minority stake in 2012.
Hall of Famer Francis hired Hall of Famer Joe Nieuwendyk as Scout and Adviser as one of his first hires. Contrast this with Josh Byrnes who was one of Dodger's GM Farhan Zaidi's first hires. Byrnes was GM of the Arizona Diamond Backs at the age of 35 and was subsequently GM of the San Diego Padres. On the other hand Nieuwendyk worked one year under Jacques Martin for the Florida Panthers immediately upon retirement and then one year under Cliff Fletcher for the Leafs before being hired by the Dallas Stars as their GM just before the draft in 2009.
Nieuwendyk presided over four Dallas drafts, drafting four first rounders in the top 14. Prior to this season only one of them has played more than one game in the NHL.
Nieuwendyk also drafted 21 players after the first round for Dallas and only 4 of them have played in the NHL through last year. Three of the four were drafted in the immediate weeks after he joined the team in 2009 so it is quite likely these selections were based on information garnered by the previous Stars management team and not by any of Nieuwendyk's new management team.
Many will defend Rutherford's time in Carolina, saying that he was handcuffed by ownership that would not let him spend money and we buy that to a degree but if that is the case we have two important questions. First, 'Does it mean that Ron Francis will cuff himself?' Second, 'Has anyone seen the Key?'
When Lou Lamoriello was hired as Devil's President out of Providence College in April 1987 he cracked the NHL's executive mold. When he appointed himself as GM that September he shattered. it. But since then the Humpty Dumpy Owners put back together all the pieces and the NHL reverted back to its Old Boys way of hiring General Managers.
With 7 GM openings this summer there was an opportunity to go another direction. Surprisingly, Ownership did break with tradition in the sense that only Jim Rutherford had previous experience as an NHL GM. Super Mario's Penguins hired Rutherford knowing he won a Cup, what they probably didn't know is that there has only been ONE GM in the history of the NHL that has led more than one team to the Stanley Cup as a GM. Tommy Gorman led 4 different teams to the Stanley Cup as a GM, the last was in 1946.
Sadly a changing of the GM guard did not diminish entrenched Lemming mentality as 4 of the new GMs were born within a year and a half of each other (Benning, Hextall, Francis & Murray), and 3 were former first round picks (Benning, Francis & Sakic). Remember, in the NHL change is good as long as everyone changes the same way.
Imagine (We can't) if NHL ownership had followed MLB and the L.A. Dodgers. The Dodgers recently hired 37 year old Farhan Zaidi, who was born in Sudbury, raised in the Philippines, and comes in with an undergraduate degree from MIT and a PhD. from Berkely. Billy Beane, GM of the Oakland A's & Zaidi's previous boss earlier said of him, "I'm more worried about losing him to Apple or Google than I am to another team." Somehow, we think the NHL has different worries.
Grading new GMs is subjective based on perspective, and in our grading we will bring in each GMs draft experience. Drafting is one of our priorities at NHL Drafter as it is fundamental to the rejuvenation of any team, especially ones with a new GM.
Jim Rutherford - Penguins - C+
This will probably be the most controversial grading, but Rutherford has earned this grading over the years. Hopefully for Pens fans the 'C+' stands for above average Caretaker, and Rutherford is soon replaced by a more innovative mind.
To start with Rutherford's teams have missed the NHL Playoffs 14 out of 19 years, meaning even when the Pens make the playoffs this year he will only have a 30% playoff success rate. In his best 3 years he has 37 Playoff wins, in all other years he has a combined 4 Playoff wins.
All those years out of the playoffs has meant Rutherford has gone to the Draft Trough early and on a regular basis. In examining Rutherford's drafting from 2000 to 2013 we find that two of his First Rounders never played a game in the NHL; Philippe Paradis (09/1/27) and Igor Knyazev (1/1/15).
In striking contrast to Murray and Benning's ability to find production from non First Rounders, Rutherford's 48 non First Rounders from 2000 to 2013 have produced only 135 Goals and only 7 of them have played more than 100 games through last year. These players have played a total of 1,759 games through last season (median = 180, avg. = 251).
Rutherford was quoted in Farris's Behind the Moves, as telling Farris, "I think the number one thing as a successful General Manager is how you handle your boss." Pretty clear to us that Mario did not read the book in addition to not knowing GMs don't win Cups for multiple teams.
With Crosby and Malkin, Rutherford may very well become the first GM in almost 70 years to lead two different teams to the Cup, but we fear if he does he will be selling the Pens future to do so.
P.S. Rutherford's Carolina Legacy - Connor McDavid
Jim Benning - Canucks - A
Benning, most recently the Bruins Assistant GM under Peter Chiarelli was also the Director of Scouting for the Sabres from 1998 to 2004. Under Benning the Sabres drafted 8 non first rounders that have played 4,664 games through last season (median = 575, avg. = 583).
Whether it ultimately works or not, Benning has closely followed Chiarelli's Blueprint when it comes to Coaching, Goaltending, Free Agency and the Trade Market during his first half year on the job.
Chiarelli hired Claude Julien who coached in the AHL for 3 years prior to being hired by the Habs, Benning hired Willie DesJardins who just spent 2 years in the AHL, winning the league championship and coach of the year while he was there.
Chiarelli addressed Goaltending by quickly trading for Tuukka Rask and he also jumped into Free Agency early in his tenure with the signing of Chara, who he was familiar with from their time in Ottawa. Benning addressed Goaltending by signing Ryan Miller (see Buffalo connection) via Free Agency and also dipped further into the UFA Pool with the signing of Vrbata. The Vrbata signing is significant for 2 reasons; first Benning bought out David Booth to clear space, and second Vrbata chose not to follow his former Assistant General Manager Brad Treliving to Calgary. We assume Treliving would have been interested in Vrbata with all the Cap space that they had available.
Finally, Chiarelli was not afraid to trade a star when he traded Kessel, and not surprisingly Benning did likewise when he traded Kesler. Chiarelli got two future first round picks in his trade, Benning got a future first round pick and Luca Sbisa the 19th overall pick of the Flyers in 2008.
The Canucks have solid prospects (including Goaltender Jacob Markstrom who came over in the Luongo trade and is currently second in in SV% & GAA in the AHL) and are not afraid to spend money. Benning won a Cup with Chiarelli in Boston, we think he is perfect fit and will win a Cup in Vancouver.
Only two GMs have drafted players for the Caps since 1982 prior to this past summer; David Poile 1983 to 1996, and then George McPhee. But in Washington GM stability has not produced a winner as the only time the Caps made it to the Stanley Cup final in their history was in 1998.
New Caps GM MacLellan was out of hockey from his last playing season with the Wings in 1992 to the time his former Bantam, College and Pro teammate McPhee offered him a Scouting Position in 2000. In 2003 he became Director of Player Personnel and for the last 7 years he was Assistant General Manager for the Capitals.
An October 7th Washington Post Article said after his promotion MacLellan had to move to Washington from Minneapolis and that, "He connected with fellow General Managers, some he knew from 10 seasons as an NHL forward, others who needed an introduction." In announcing his promotion, the Caps Website says that MacLellan, "Assisted and advised the GM in all player related matters." Somehow these quotes don't go together the way they should.
Maclellan has seen plenty of coaching moves since joining the Caps, with new coach Barry Trotz following Ron Wilson, Bruce Cassidy, Glen Hanlon, Bruce Boudreau, Dale Hunter and Adam Oates since 2000. But again something seems awry here as both MacLellan's promotion and Trotz's hiring were announced on the same day. The Post article goes on to say, "He gave hiring autonomy to Coach Barry Trotz." We have the feeling that MacLellan was directed from above on that.
During his last 5 years as Assistant GM the Caps spent money and got worse. From winning the President's Trophy in 2009-10 with 121 pts. or 1.48 pts. per game it has gone down quickly. According to Capgeek the Caps are 5th in spending this year and they have consistently spent since the President's Trophy season.
|Season||Pts/Gm||Cap Rank||Playoff Record|
|12-13||1.19||11||3 - 4|
|11-12||1.21||2||7 - 7|
|10-11||1.30||6||0 - 4|
|09-10||1.48||18||3 - 4|
Scary Cap Fact #1 - MacLellan immediately went out and spent money upon his promotion with 7 yrs - $40.25 mil to Matt Niskonen, 5 yrs - 27.5 mil to 34 year old Brooks Orpik and 2 yrs 1.9 mil. to back up Goalie Justin Peters of 58 career starts for Carolina. History has shown it is not money that has caused the Caps' decline.
Scary Cap Fact #2 - While he was the Assistant GM the Caps only picked 5 Non First Round position players who have played 100 games. Mathieu Perreault (228), Sami Lepisto (176), Tim Kennedy (162, Cody Eakin (159) and Dimitri Orlov (119). Together they have played 844 games and only 322 with the Caps (38.1%) through last season.
Cap fans have to know if McPhee listened to MacLellan while drafting or if he didn't listen to him, hopefully for Caps' fans it is the latter.
Trotz proved he can coach a low budget team with talent, coaching a high budget team without talent coming through the system is totally different. MacLellan has to prove he belongs quickly & is not just someone who spends to the Salary Cap Limit.
Grading the & New GMs / Hot Stove 2014/12/20
Ron Wilson was extended by GM Brian Burke just before Christmas, Bob Hartley was extended by Brian Burke, I mean Brad Treliving just before Christmas. Herein lies Treliving's biggest challenge, i.e. prove that he is his own man.
Treliving probably comes to the Flames with one of the most varied resumes of any GM since Lou Lamoriello. The former President of the Central Hockey League told the Calgary Herald that Word of Mouth in 2007 got him an invitation to interview for the Coyotes Assistant GM position, and the rest as we say is history.
Don Maloney got hired as the Coyotes General Manager on May 28, 2007 and Treliving joined him in Phoenix shortly after on July 18, 2007. Given the trying times in Phoenix it is likely Treliving was hired to focus on his Marketing and Organizational skills developed in his CHL days, but with the Flames he has much more responsibility.
Joe Sakic - Avalanche - Inc.
We would love to see Patrick Roy at the World Series of Poker. Roy simply can knock people out of their incumbent seats like no other; see Mario Tremblay, Rejean Houle and Greg Sherman.
Playing the hot hand of what many of the NHL stats crowd believe was an unsustainable season, Roy has increased his power in Colorado with the demotion of Sherman.
Sakic seems to be letting fellow Hall of Famer Roy have his way, and although we are grading Sakic any GM grade of the Avalanche should be a grade of Roy.
Finally for those ardent readers who have made it this far, let us conclude by saying that the two teams at the bottom of our review (Carolina and Colorado) are by no coincidence the teams that are management top heavy in Hall of Fame Players.
|Season||Pts/Gm||Cap Rank||Playoff Record|
|11-12||1.18||22||9 - 7|
|10-11||1.21||22||0 - 4|
|09-10||1.30||29||3 - 4|
Salary Cap limitations does not explain poor drafts, especially first rounders.
Coyotes First Rounders Part 1: With Top 9 picks in 2007, 2008 & 2009, Treliving's boss Don Maloney drafted Mikkel Boedker, Oliver Ekman-Larsson & Kyle Turris (traded for what ultimately became a 2nd round pick). Moderate returns at best.
Coyotes First Rounders Part 2: Maloney also had 4 late first rounders from 2007 to 2011. Through last year they played less than 100 games combined; Tikhanov (61), Murphy (30), Gormley (5) & Ross (0). Very Poor returns at best.
Worst yet is Maloney's drafting after the first round. Since he was hired out of his 40 non first round picks only Mickael Stone (123) has played more than 30 games and only 3 others have played more than 15 games through last season.
Treliving new team has financial stability, but he will require fortitude to work with Burke, and will also have to demonstrate better drafting acumen than his mentor, Maloney.