Buckle up: We’re basically one week away from the 2023 trade deadline.
With some moves having already come and a flurry more expected, this seems like the perfect time for a quick check-in on the resumés of all 32 GMs. Five men who hold that post have been in their current spot for 10 years (or within months of it), while another half-dozen only got the big chair since the beginning of 2022.
Whether we’re talking long-tenured suits or guys still relatively new to the job, let’s use this week’s power rankings to highlight the best swap each GM has made with his current team, be it a deadline trade or otherwise.
1. Boston Bruins (43-8-5) — Some of Don Sweeney’s best trade work has actually come at recent deadlines. In 2021 he bought low on Taylor Hall, getting the player without surrendering a first-round pick or substantial prospect. He did have to put his first (and more) on the table for Hampus Lindholm last year, but that was entirely palatable given the player signed an eight-year contract extension to stay in Boston. Hall, of course, also re-upped with the B’s as a free agent.
2. Carolina Hurricanes (38-10-8) — Three years ago, on deadline day, 2020, Don Waddell picked up centre Vincent Trocheck — who had two full years left on his contract — from the Florida Panthers for pending-UFA Erik Haula and three other inconsequential players. Trocheck was a good — and, at times, great — player for Carolina until leaving as a free agent last summer. Waddell also added Brent Burns from San Jose and Max Pacioretty from Vegas last summer for… basically nothing.
3. New Jersey Devils (37-15-5) — Tom Fitzgerald seems to do his best work when dealing with the Washington Capitals. Right before the deadline in 2021 he picked up Jonas Siegenthaler for a third-round pick, then last summer he sent a second and third to the Caps for Vitek Vanecek, who’s having a whale of a season in the Devils crease.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs (35-15-8) — Well, acquiring 2019 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Ryan O’Reilly last week may yet prove to be the feather in Kyle Dubas’ cap. Grabbing Mark Giordano last year for a couple of second-rounders doesn’t look too bad given how well the oldest skater in the league has played for the Leafs this year and the fact he’s coming back next fall.
5. Tampa Bay Lightning (36-17-3) — You have to think Julien BriseBois’ finest hour was February, 2020, when he made moves to bring in middle-six guys Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow, who wound up being key players on two Cup winners as Tampa finally reached the top of the mountain.
6. New York Rangers (33-15-9) — It has to be getting Vladimir Tarasenko (as well as Niko Mikkola for the blue line) two weeks ago from St. Louis, especially since Chris Drury had an extra 2023 first to put in play and will still be making a Round 1 selection in this draft — barring more trades, of course.
7. Vegas Golden Knights (34-18-5) — Get this: Kelly McCrimmon’s first trade as GM of the Knights was picking up Chandler Stephenson from the Washington Capitals for a fifth-round pick. Stephenson just keeps getting better and better in Vegas, to the point he participated in the All-Star Game this season and could touch 70 points.
8. Los Angeles Kings (32-19-7) — The Kings are buyers now, but back when they were sellers in 2019, Rob Blake did well to pick up prospect Sean Durzi from the Leafs in the move that sent Jake Muzzin east. Durzi is playing 20 minutes a night for the Kings as an NHL sophomore and could hit 45 points this year. Also, stepping up to get Kevin Fiala when the Wild weren’t going to be able to re-sign him last summer has worked out tremendously, as the Swiss winger is the Kings’ leading scorer by 10 points this season.
9. Colorado Avalanche (31-19-5) — Chris MacFarland has only made two trades — both involving highly fringe players — in less than a year on the job. But he previously held the post of assistant GM with the Avs, so let’s assume he was whispering in Joe Sakic’s ear on Canada Day, 2019 when they ostensibly traded Tyson Barrie and Alexander Kerfoot to Toronto for Nazem Kadri.
10. Seattle Kraken (32-19-6) — Expansion teams tend to have a lot of extra draft picks and a bit of cap room, so if you’re Ron Francis, why not send a 2023 third and fourth to Columbus to acquire Oliver Bjorkstrand last summer after the first year of his five-year deal.
11. Winnipeg Jets (35-22-1) — Everyone knew a first-round pick would be part of the package going back to Winnipeg when the Jets more or less had to trade Jacob Trouba in 2019, one year before he could become a UFA and walk for free. But few people — in the game or otherwise — knew Kevin Cheveldayoff was getting such a good right-shot defenceman back in Neal Pionk.
12. Dallas Stars (30-16-12) — In his first two summers on the job, Jim Nill acquired top-six centres Tyler Seguin (2013) and Jason Spezza (2014) without surrendering a first-round pick or top prospect. That helps explain why he still holds the job 10 years later. In 2019 Dallas acquired Mats Zuccarello from the Rangers, watched him score three points in his first two games with the team, break his arm, then return for the playoffs and net 11 points in 13 outings as Dallas fell to the eventual Cup-champion St. Louis Blues in a seven-game, Round 2 series.
13. Edmonton Oilers (31-19-8) — Nothing jumps off the page with Ken Holland during his Oilers tenure, but grabbing Brett Kulak from the Canadiens at last year’s deadline and signing him to a four-year extension was a tidy bit of business.
14. Minnesota Wild (31-21-5) — Let’s highlight two Swedish goalie moves by Bill Guerin. In 2021 Guerin traded up two spots in the first round to draft Jesper Wallstedt, who has blossomed into one of the best crease prospects in hockey. Then last summer, when Cam Talbot wanted out, Guerin sent him to Ottawa for Filip Gustavsson, a 24-year-old who has a .928 save percentage in 26 games this year.
15. Detroit Red Wings (27-21-8) — Steve Yzerman’s biggest wins at the helm of the Wings have been at the draft table. His best trades have been in line with what you’d expect from a rebuilding team, like relieving the Rangers of a second-round pick to take the Marc Staal and his $5.7-million cap hit in 2020.
16. New York Islanders (30-24-7) — For as large as his reputation is, Lou Lamoriello hasn’t made much in the way of noteworthy trades since taking over the Islanders five years ago. The recent Bo Horvat acquisition — complete with a huge extension — is his most notable move.
17. Florida Panthers (29-25-6) — Bill Zito has been very active in less than three years on the job. The cost of putting Matthew Tkachuk in his lineup was enormous, but you can’t deny what a force the winger has been. A smaller trade with the Flames — the 2021 deal to land Sam Bennett — has also worked out well.
18. Calgary Flames (27-20-11) — If you ever bump into Brad Treliving at a bar, disregard which one of you makes more money and offer to buy the man a drink because the list of guys he’s traded — who’ve either blatantly or subtlety let it be known they’d prefer not to play in Calgary — include Tkachuk, Adam Fox and Dougie Hamilton. Good on Treliving for getting Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar and a first-round pick for Tkachuk last summer; those players could yet prove very valuable for the Flames.
19. Pittsburgh Penguins (27-20-9) — Ron Hextall picked up Rickard Rakell at last year’s deadline and inked him to a six-year deal in the summer. The Swede has responded with his best season in five years.
20. Nashville Predators (27-22-6) — At the 2013 deadline, David Poile traded a very useful veteran player — Martin Erat — for a guy Washington had drafted less than a year earlier, Filip Forsberg. Erat played a total of 62 games for the Capitals and scored two goals; Forsberg is Nashville’s all-time goals leader. Poile has now been a GM for more than 40 years and his first swap as Capitals boss was thieving Rod Langway from the Canadiens in September of 1982.
21. Buffalo Sabres (28-23-4) — Jack Eichel has 65 points in 78 games with Vegas since Kevyn Adams traded him there in early November, 2021. Alex Tuch — who came back to Buffalo along with Peyton Krebs and a first-rounder — has 99 points in 105 games with the Sabres.
22. Ottawa Senators (27-25-4) — Trading Erik Karlsson to San Jose just as training camp was opening in 2018 landed the Sens Josh Norris and the pick that became Tim Stützle; in other words, two guys who could be their top centres for a long, long time. Nice work, Pierre Dorion.
23. Washington Capitals (28-25-6) — It really didn’t seem like much of a swap in the moment, but the 2018 deadline acquisition of Michal Kempny was a huge add for the Caps. Washington won the Cup with Kempny slotting in perfectly beside John Carlson.
24. Montreal Canadiens (24-29-4) — It sounds like Kent Hughes could be quiet after all at this deadline with a couple of pending-UFAs dinged up. His first deadline last year went very well, especially the part where he got an unprotected 2023 first-rounder from Florida for Ben Chiarot. Still, his best work was probably landing Kirby Dach from Chicago at the 2022 draft.
25. St. Louis Blues (26-28-23) — Doug Armstrong just traded Ryan O’Reilly and for a long time it looked like his 2018 deal to acquire the centre from Buffalo may have been his masterpiece. That is, before Tage Thompson turned into an unstoppable force of nature about four years after Armstrong sent him to the Sabres.
At the 2013 deadline Armstrong put a first-rounder down to get Jay Bouwmeester from Calgary and the big defenceman wound up logging a lot of minutes for St. Louis in the next seven years, including on the Cup-winning 2019 squad.
26. Arizona Coyotes (20-29-9) — Getting a first and second from Montreal for Christian Dvorak just before the 2021-22 season was one of Bill Armstrong’s better moves amidst a bunch of forward-looking transactions.
27. Philadelphia Flyers (23-26-10) — If you want some idea why the Flyers are where they are, consider the fact there’s not really an obvious ‘W’ on Chuck Fletcher’s trade resumé since taking the reins in 2018. Owen Tippett looks like he could make last year’s deadline trade of captain Claude Giroux to Florida a decent one.
28. Chicago Blackhawks (20-32-5) — The Hawks are doing a special brand of scorched-earth rebuild, so we need to put a lot of Kyle Davidson’s moves in that context. Still, let’s just say he could use a win if we do wind up seeing a Patrick Kane swap in the next week.
29. Vancouver Canucks (22-30-5) — Ethan Bear has been a perfect fit on the Canucks blue line and Patrik Allvin got him for a fifth-rounder just before Halloween this season.
30. San Jose Sharks (18-29-11) — Mike Grier has held the job for less than a year, so there’s not a lot to go on. That could really change in the next eight days if both Erik Karlsson and Timo Meier go.
31. Columbus Blue Jackets (18-34-5) — Let’s just re-live Jarmo Kekalainen’s rockstar 2019 deadline, where he said “bleep it” to selling two huge UFAs he knew he was losing — Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin — and instead went the other way, picking up UFA-to-be Matt Duchene (among others) while his team teetered on the bubble of the playoffs. The Jackets, of course, went on to scrape into the post-season, then win the first series in franchise history by sweeping a Tampa squad that finished 30 points ahead of them.
32. Anaheim Ducks (17-34-7) — A first and two seconds was a pretty nice haul for Hampus Lindholm last deadline; let’s see if Pat Verbeek can work any magic selling John Klingberg or Dmitry Kulikov this year.