Grading General Managers

By Franklin S.F.

When you think of a General Manager (or GM for short) what do you think of? For most people, they think of just some guy that sits in a chair ordering people around. In reality, the owner entrusts all team and player transactions to the GM. After research I realized that GM’s have a lot of power and can make or break a team. Here is my evaluation of Peter Chiarelli, Don Sweeney, and David Poile. These are three GMs who have found success

            Peter Chiarelli(Former GM, Boston Bruins, and Edmonton Oilers)

For starters, Peter Chiarelli is a former GM of both the Boston Bruins and the Edmonton Oilers. He picked up a Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011 but was fired on April, 24, 2015 after a season of missing the playoffs on a tiebreaker. When the Edmonton Oilers hired Chiarelli, he inherited a talented young roster; Taylor Hall, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Of those players, he traded all but three (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, and Connor McDavid) and decomposed the team. He made some bad trades, like the infamous Hall for Larsson swap – Hall won MVP the next year. All of the players he has traded away have now exceeded 50 points in a season. The reason most analysts think the Oilers are struggling is the lack of scoring depth around McDavid and Draisaitl.

Through the draft Chiarelli has had ups and downs. You can argue he drafted a generational talent, but really McDavid fell in his lap at No. 1 overall. Some of the notable names he has drafted are Jesse Puljujarvi, Stuart Skinner, Evan Bouchard, and Caleb Jones. Of these players Skinner, and Jones are mediocre at best. Puljujarvi, and Bouchard have the upside to be superstars, but Puljujarvi wants out and Bouchard is still developing. In free agency, he has added two mammoth contracts to the Oilers cap hit – Milan Lucic (7yr/6mil) and Andrej Sekera (6yr/5.5 mil). These players aren’t providing much production, they are just getting paid. He made a solid deal, signing Mikko Koskinen to a 1yr/2.5 mil contract. As Koskinen had a good year in net. Based on my research, he has not brought success to Edmonton. If I could I would give an F but he won a Stanley Cup once.

Final Grade: D-

            Don Sweeney (Boston Bruins)

In my opinion, Sweeney is an above average GM. He has built a Stanley Cup contender, but he has made some moves that he regrets. For example, he dealt Dougie Hamilton, a talented offensive defenseman, for a below average prospect and a mediocre prospect. A great trade he made was Milan Lucic to the Kings; after an 18 goal season his trade value was inflated and the return was great – a good first rounder (Jakub Zboril), Colin Miller, and Martin Jones’ rights. Then there was the Rinaldo trade. He, statistically speaking, was one of the worst players in the league at the time and they gave up a 3rd rounder to Philadelphia. They got Sean Kuraly, and Trent Frederic for Martin Jones. The worst trade he has made by far is the Reilly Smith and Marc Savard for Jimmy Hayes trade. While Savard retired, Reilly Smith is enjoying his prime and it would not have been as successful if he was in Boston. Probably what he does best is drafting. With four picks in the first two rounds of the 2015 draft, he drafted all prospects that will be NHL players someday. Some notable names are: Jakub Zboril, Jake Debrusk, Charlie McAvoy, Zachary Senshyn, and Trent Frederic. Through free agency he has filled the few holes here and there, with players such as Dominic Moore, Riley Nash and Frank Vatrono.

Final Grade: B

            David Poile (Nashville Predators)

He has given plenty of success to Nashville since the beginning of their franchise, but has failed to bring a Stanley Cup to the Predators. His best work is done in the off-season. Through free agency he has brought in J.P Dumont, Paul Kariya, and Jason Arnott. J.P Dumont scored 267 points in Nashville. Paul Kariya scored over 75 points in both of his seasons with the Predators. Jason Arnott in Nashville had 175+ points in plus/minus. Through the draft he has found several late round steals such as 8th round surefire Hall Of Famer Pekka Rinne, the goaltender that has been between the pipes for 10 years. He also got 4th round steal Viktor Arvidsson, a pure goal scorer, and 2nd rounder Shea Weber, a great defenseman who was involved in the best trade he has made the Weber for Subban trade.

David Poile has been great with his early draft picks as well, including big names like Ryan Suter, Kevin Fiala, Dante Fabbro, Eeli Tolvanen. He hasn’t made too many great trades. He acquired the pick he used to pick Pekka Rinne for Timo Helbling, a bad defensive prospect. He made a splash acquiring P.K Subban in a fleece job with Montreal, and also made a splash dealing him in a deal where he got fleeced. He also traded for an aging legend in Peter “Foppa” Forsberg, he was on pace for a 70 plus point season before it was cut short. He also got Kyle Turris in a three way trade, who has been solid. He traded Josh Bailey in a bad deal. Overall, David Poile is a good GM. After all, he has built a team that has been a contender for nearly five years. To me he is a good example of what a franchise GM is.

Final Grade: A-

To conclude, being a GM is difficult to do. They handle everything and if they mess up, the successor of that team might struggle to rebuild it. If the players you have are bad, the players you used to have are good, that all falls on the GM’s shoulders – your team can only perform with the assets they have. I believe based on the power the GM has over the team’s management, they can make a team a title contender, or a long-time rebuilder.

Student Bio

Franklin S.F.

2019 St. Benedict’s Camp
2020 Summer Program

Some of my hobbies are playing chess, playing sports, and writing books and poetry. My favorite sports are hockey, football, and basketball.

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