NEW YORK — The architect of one of the NHL’s most surprising teams, the Phoenix Coyotes, has been named a finalist for the league’s inaugural general manager of the year award.
Don Maloney, who helped the Coyotes through some tumultuous off-season times, en route to franchise records for wins and points in a season, is joined by Washington Capitals GM George McPhee and Nashville Predators’ David Poile as the three finalists for the award.
The award, which will be handed out during the Stanley Cup final, is based on balloting by the league’s 30 general managers, a panel of league executives, along with print and broadcast media.
Possibly Maloney’s best move was the hiring of coach Dave Tippett, who joined the team a week prior to the start of the season. He is a finalist for the league’s Jack Adams Award as the league’s coach of the year.
Maloney then bolstered his young lineup at the trade deadline by acquiring forwards Lee Stempniak and Wojtek Wolski, along with blue-liners Derek Morris and Mathieu Schneider. The Coyotes finished the year with a 50-27-5 record and earned a trip to the post-season for the first time since 2002.
In Washington, McPhee’s Caps captured the first Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history, after chalking up a record of 54-15-13. It was the Capitals third straight Southeast Division crown.
While forwards Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom led the Capitals to 313 goals — the most by any team since the 1995-96 season, McPhee also signed forward Mike Knuble as a free agent last summer. He went on to score 29 goals this season.
McPhee also built up organizational depth, which was used throughout the season with call-ups from the Capitals’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Hershey Bears. The Bears also led the AHL with a 60-17-3 record.
Poile, meanwhile, oversaw his club’s fifth trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs in the past six years, thanks a record of 47-29-5. Core defencemen Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Klein were drafted and developed by the team, while goaltender Pekka Rinne and leading scorer Patric Hornqvist were late-round draft picks.
Nashville’s win over St. Louis on March 21 gave Poile 1,000 regular-season victories as an NHL general manager.
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