Toronto Maple Leafs: Ranking All 32 NHL General Managers

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 23: (l-r) Pierre Dorion and Kyle Dubas attend the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - JUNE 23: (l-r) Pierre Dorion and Kyle Dubas attend the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Maple Leafs
Joe Sakic, General Manager of the Colorado Avalanche (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The 4th Ranked GM – Joe Sakic (Colorado Avalanche)

There is another executive that took the Yzerman route to become an NHL GM. Like Stevie Y,  Joe Sakic had a Hall of Fame career as a player all with just one organization, the one he now manages. Sakic was already a legend in Colorado, having played 20 seasons for the organization between the Quebec Nordiques and the Avalanche, when he became a Senior Advisor in 2011. Sakic worked his way up to become the Executive Vice President and then landed his current role as the GM a year later. He will have been doing the job for seven years this September.

The Good – The Avalanche play some of the most exciting and dynamic hockey in the league thanks to the way their roster has been constructed. A big part of that is thanks to Sakic’s draft record and ensuring that he had Nathan MacKinnon locked up on a seven-year $44.1M contract. That deal is incredible for Sakic and the team as MacKinnon left a lot of money on the table.

The best move that Sakic ever made is without a doubt, the three-team trade he made in 2017 with the the Senators and Predators to unload Matt Duchene. That move enriched the Avs to the tune of a second round draft pick in 2018 (traded to Florida for a pair of picks (Justus Annunen and Danil Zhuravlyov), a first (Bowen Byram) and a third round pick in 2019 (Matthew Stienburg), Samuel Girard, Vladislav Kamenev, Shane Bowers, and Andrew Hammond.

This was a massive win for Sakic. Girard has been excellent for the Avalanche and has become one of the team’s most reliable defensemen. There is also still a lot to be seen from this trade. Bowers is still just a 21 year old prospect but has looked good in the AHL. Byram is 20 and after proving that he’s too good for the WHL has already played 19 games for the Avalanche. Stienburg, Annunen, and Zhuravlyov still have a chance to make the NHL but it may not be an easy road for them.

The Bad – Sakic has made a few blunders such as when he allowed Paul Stastny to walk as an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2013-14 season without getting anything in return for him. One of his bigger mistakes was the contract that he gave to Francois Beauchemin. At the time, Beauchemin was 35 years old. Beauchemin cashed in by inking a three-year, $13.5M deal with a $4.5M AAV and a no movement clause. The deal was so bad that Beauchemin didn’t play all three seasons. Sakic was forced to swallow his pride and buy out the defenseman.

The Ugly – Worse than the mistake Sakic made with Beauchemin is the one he made with Brad Stuart. Sakic traded for the blue liner in 2014. The transaction gave the Sharks a second round draft pick in 2016 (used to select Cameron Morrison) and a 6th round draft pick in 2017 (used to select Denis Smirnov).

The trade wasn’t so bad on its own. It got ugly when Sakic extended Stuart prior to the start of the season, before Stuart was even able to play a single game in an Avs jersey. Sakic gave him a two-year $7.2M contract that carried a $3.6M cap hit. Once again, Sakic had to fix his own mistake by buying out Stuart in 2016.