The list of great general managers in the National Hockey League nowadays are few are far between. For the Islanders’ Lou Lamoriello, the argument can be made he should rank near or at the top of that select list.
NBC’s Pro Hockey Talk seems to feel the same way.
Yesterday the website did its usual weekly NHL power rankings and slotted Lamoriello as the sixth-best general manager in the league. Ahead of him was Boston’s Don Sweeney, Tampa Bay’s Julien BriseBois, St. Louis’s Doug Armstrong, Detroit’s Steve Yzerman and Colorado’s Joe Sakic.
The argument made by PHT’s Adam Gretz for putting the Islanders’ g.m. at six — in the category of “Established names and strong track records” — was Lamoriello was the brains behind a mini-dynasty in New Jersey, which will always get him recognition. Adding to that, he’s not made earth-shatering moves in his time with the Isles other than Jean-Gabriel Pageau, but that the stability and credibility he brought to the franchise — one that had none before he arrived — can’t be understated.
Now there are some that will argue that Lamoriello should probably be higher on the list (the case could be made for him to be ahead of Yzerman whose Red Wings club is still rebuilding and is coming off just an awful 2019-20 campaign). But six is a pretty solid spot for the 78-year-old.
Lamoriello as it stands is the reigning Jim Gregory Award winner, the award handed outÂ annually to the top NHLÂ general manager as voted by a 41-member panel which includes all 31 teams GMs, five league executives and five media members.
Under his watch, the Islanders are coming off their first Conference finals appearance in 27 years and a second consecutive postseason appearance. He was the reason behind the hiring of Barry Trotz, arguably the best coach in the league. The acquisitions he made at the trade deadline last season, Pageau (mentioned earlier) and veteran d-man Andy Greene were instrumental in the Isles making their run. Lou was able to finally get goalie Ilya Sorokin to come to North America and sign with the organization in the summer while also re-upping franchise d-man Ryan Pulock to a team-friendly deal just a few weeks back.
And if all goes according to plan, he will have star center Mathew Barzal, forward Matt Martin, Greene and goalie Cory Schneider all signed before the season begins.
Lamoriello has also lost some key pieces during his Islander tenure which could have had him in the top-five. Letting goaltender Robin Lehner walk prior to last season; having to deal away 26-year-old d-man Devon Toews to Colorado because of salary cap trouble earlier this offseason. Although he reacquired two second-round picks in the swap, having to let go of a young d-man of Toews’ potential hurts. Striking out on Artemi Panarin before this past year also was a missed opportunity.
In reality though, Lamoriello is still pretty early into his foray with the Islanders. Granted this will be his third season running the club, it’s not usually till that specific year until it’s clear where a franchise is heading under that current general manager.
The Isles have been trending in the right direction.
Right now the team’s window to compete for a Stanley Cup is open and the pieces are in place for long term success. With Lamoriello running things, the good times should continue.
A lot of that will hinge on him getting Barzal locked up and finding him that elusive winger to play alongside him.
Barzal is the centerpiece and who the club has been building around.
It doesn’t seem Lamoriello will be stepping down anytime soon so we could see him move up the ranks of this list soon. Where he stands right now seems like the right spot based on his resume and the work he’s done with the Islanders up until this point.
Do you agree?