Don Maloney of the Phoenix Coyotes, George McPhee of the Washington Capitals and David Poile of the Nashville Predators have been voted finalists for the inaugural NHL General Manager of the Year Award.
Maloney steered the Coyotes through an uncertain and turbulent off-season, charting the course for the most successful regular season in franchise history. His biggest move was hiring head coach Dave Tippett, who guided the Coyotes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2002 by posting a 50-27-5 record for 107 points and setting franchise records for wins and points in a season.
With the Coyotes already enjoying a breakout season, the acquisitions of forwards Lee Stempniak and Wojtek Wolski plus defensemen Derek Morris and Mathieu Schneider at the Mar. 3 trade deadline propelled the club to even greater heights.
McPhee’s Capitals set a club record with 121 points (54-15-13) on the way to the first Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history and their third consecutive Southeast Division title. The Capitals tallied 313 goals, becoming the NHL’s highest-scoring club since 1995-96.
The club’s biggest free-agent signing last summer, forward Mike Knuble, tallied 29 goals and made a good fit on the top line alongside Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Organizational depth was highlighted by the contributions made by several players recalled from the Capitals’ AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, who also posted the top record in their league (60-17-3).
Under Poile’s leadership the Predators qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fifth time in the past six seasons with a 47-29-6 record for 100 points. More than half of the regular lineup was drafted and developed by the organization, including core defensemen Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Klein.
Leading scorer Patric Hornqvist and starting goaltender Pekka Rinne were selected by Nashville with the 230th and 258th overall selections in their respective draft years. Poile entered an elite class on March 21 when the Predators defeated St. Louis for his 1,000th regular-season win as a GM.
Voting for this new award was conducted among the 30 GMs and a panel of NHL executives, print and broadcast media. The winner will be announced during the 2010 Stanley Cup final.