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NHL Power Rankings: General manager ranking tiers


TAMPA, FL - JULY 7: Julien BriseBois, Vice President & General Manager, Alternate Governor of the Tampa Bay Lightning hoists the Stanley Cup overhead after the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens in Game Five to win the best of seven game series 4-1 during the Stanley Cup Final of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on July 7, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

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.