Don't get me wrong, Dale Tallon, Doug Armstrong, and David Poile (arguable) all did serviceable jobs with their teams this year in Florida, St. Louis, and Nashville, respectively.
Why do I bring these three men into discussion? On Tuesday, the NHL announced that these three general managers were the nominations for GM of the Year.
You may be thinking, "What the hell does this have to do with Philadelphia?". Well here it is.
It's absolute blasphemy that out of the three finalists for this award, our very own Paul Holmgren isn't in the conversation. While at this point, it's probably the last thing Holmgren or anyone in the Flyers organization is thinking about, it's still something we feel should be brought to everyone's attention.
We're going to break down Tallon's, Armstrong's, and Poile's body of work this season as the masterminds behind their team's success and compare that to the unbelievable job Homer did (that we all witnessed first hand) in Philadelphia that's evidently flown far under the radar.
Dave Poile, Nashville GM
Of the three candidates, Poile had the least work to do. In other words, he was already starting with the same core group of guys that won their first-ever playoff series last year, and a team that was poised to be contenders again this year. Here is a list of what he was able to accomplish during the offseason and up until this year's trade deadline:
- Signed goaltender Pekka Rinne to a 7-year contract extension worth $7 million per year.
- He "bolstered" up the back end by bringing in an older Hal Gill at the trade deadline.
- Also at the trade deadline, Poile acquired Andrei Kostitsyn and Paul Gaustad. Good moves? Yes. Game changing players? Not really.
- And what NHL.com is calling "smooth", he basically pulled a guy in Alexander Radulov, who they still had under contract, away from Russia to join the team.
- What he FAILED to do was anything remotely close to locking up two of the best defensemen in the league in Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.
Doug Armstrong, St. Louis GM
Armstrong was another GM that already had their core in place for this season. The young group of guys that include guys like TJ Oshie and David Backes (to name a few) had been playing together for a few seasons now. Not that they were favorites coming into the season by any stretch, they still had the talent already in the organization. Here's what Armstrong was able to do this year:
- He brought in three seasoned, Cup winning veterans in Jamie Langenbrunner, Jason Arnott, and Kent Huskins.
- The real reason for Armstrong being in this conversation was for his signing of goaltender Brian Elliot. Elliot obviously had a career year, which some might consider a statistically anomaly, but nonetheless he was one of the top goaltenders in the league. The gamble Armstrong took in bringing him off paid huge dividends. That would have been like someone putting money on the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series last year. Yeah, kind of like that...
- Doug Armtrong's best move, however, didn't even involve player personnel. 13 games into the young season, he canned bench boss Davis Payne and brought in a guy (who we in Philadelphia know very well) in Ken Hitchcock. This move resurrected their season, as the youthful Blues quickly bought into Hitchcock's system and posted an impressive 43-15-11 record under him.
Dale Tallon, Florida GM
Of the three candidates, Tallon was probably the busiest during the offseason... and not by choice. Coming into the season, the Panthers only had 11 players locked under contract. The total salary for those 11 players amounted to $22.3 million, which according to CapGeek.com, was $26m UNDER the salary floor. That means the Panthers had to spend $48.3 million just to be eligible to compete in the league this year. Enter Dale Tallon, whose off season was basically like a real-life version of fantasy hockey. Here's what he pulled into the Sunshine State:
- Tallon traded for or signed 10 players that weren't on the team last year.
- Big names included Brian Campbell and Kris Versteeg (Chicago South?), and Tomas Fleischmann (who led the team with 61 points) (you heard that right).
- Tallon took a chance on goaltender Jose Theodore(after letting his own franchise netminder and fan-favorite Tomas Vokun walk to Washington), who put up respectable numbers (22-16-11, .917 SV%, 2.46 GAA). Not bad, but nothing to write home about.
- A guaranteed reason for Tallon's name being included in this group was the fact that the team he built brought the Florida franchise their first playoff birth since 2000 and first division title in team history...
- ...Which if I might add, they stumbled (2-3-5 in last 10 games) into that 3rd seed in the conference and won the Southeast LARGELY in part to the underperformance of the Washington Capitals.
Now here's an interesting quote from the NHL.com article about the finalists for GM of the Year:
"While Armstrong and Poile made the usual number of offseason moves, Tallon pulled an extreme roster makeover this past summer."
Hmm, that's a pretty interesting comment. I'm pretty sure Dale Tallon wasn't the only one to pull an "extreme roster makeover".
Actually no, they're right on that one. He was the only one to pull an "extreme" makeover. Paul Holmgren of the Philadelphia Flyers pulled a COLOSSAL, GARGANTUAN, HUMANGOUS BIG (insert synonym here) makeover.
Homer has never been a GM to sit back. In years past, he's made some bold moves, and was even the recipient of this award before. But this year, if any, was his biggest gamble and (so far) finest work. Like they say, high risk = high reward, and that's exactly what Homer brought to our hockey team this year.
Let's take a look at the historical offseason orchestrated by one of the league's craftiest GM's.
Paul Holmgren, Philadelphia GM
- Signed rookie free agent Matt Read to an entry level contract from Bemidji State. Read finished his first season in the NHL with 24 G and 23 A. Steal? I think so.
- Finally locked up a franchise goaltender in Ilya Bryzgalov by signing him to a 9 year, $51 million contract. People in this city have hated on Bryz and his big paycheck, but we've been showing the BryzgaLOVE all season long.
- In his most controversial move at the time (probably his best to date now) traded away the two faces of the francise in Jeff Carter (leading scorer) and Mike Richards (captain). For that, you can thank him later.
- In return for Carter, Holmgren landed the 8th overall pick in the 2011 draft (where Sean Couturier fell into their laps), a 2011 third-round-pick, and forward Jake Voracek. Homer 1, Blue Jackets 0.
- In the Richards deal, the Flyers received Wayne Simmonds (enough said), the NHL's highest touted prospect in Brayden Schenn, and a 2012 second-round-pick. Homer 1, Kings 0.
- The players brought in from ONLY those two trades accounted for 71 goals, 72 assists, and a combined +21 rating.
- The players shipped out (who both ended up in LA) in that deal accounted for 39 goals, 39 assists, and a combined -9 rating.
- $8.49 million is the combined salary for Voracek, Couturier, Simmonds, and Schenn.
- $11 million is the combined salary for Richards and Carter, and they're signed through 2020 and 2022, respectively. Homer 1, Party Boys 0.
- The rest of the offseason consisted of bringing in Jaromir Jagr (JAROMIR F*CKING JAGR) and Maxime Talbot. Both had decent years for the Flyers and that made Pittsburgh pretty upset. Double win.
- At the trade deadline, with a glaring weakness on the blueline due to captain and future hall of famer Chris Pronger going down, Homer did what he does best (shipped off some draft picks) to bring in Nicklas Grossmann and Pavel Kubina. Both have been studs for the Flyers on the back end, AND Homer locked up the shot-blocking Grossmann with a 4-year extension.
- Oh, and with only 11 roster players from last year on the 2011-2012 squad, the Flyers finished the season 5th in the Eastern Conference with an impressive 47-26-9 record (103 points).
So humor me, NHL. Tell me why and possibly how Paul Holmgren isn't in consideration for the GM of the Year this season. It's an absolute snub and hopefully Holmgren has gotten some respect around the league, and especially in this city, for the work he's done, the success he's had (so far), and for how he set this team up for success in the coming years.