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
Doug Armstrong, General Manager of St. Louis Blues Hoists the Stanley Cup following their 2019 victory (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The 3rd Ranked GM – Doug Armstrong (St. Louis Blues)

In 1992, the Minnesota North Stars hired Doug Armstrong to be their Assistant General Manager. Since then, he’s been an NHL mainstay. He worked his way up to be the GM of the Stars before changing organizations to be the Director of Player Personnel of the Blues. Once again, he climbed the ranks within the franchise to become the team’s GM, taking the job in the summer of 2010. Armstrong’s been the Blues GM for 11 years and the franchise’s President of Hockey Operations for nearly eight years.

The Good – Without a doubt, being the architect of a Stanley Cup winning team is Armstrong’s biggest feat. It’s actually something he’s done twice. He won the Mug in 1999 with the Stars and did it again with the Blues in 2019. (It has no bearing on these rankings but Armstrong is actually the only member of the Double Triple Gold Club for winning those two NHL championships as well as Olympic gold in 2010 and 2014 and the World Championship in 2007 and 2016.)

In order to win the 2019 title, Armstrong made a wise but risky trade. He moved Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, Tage Thompson, and a first and second-round draft pick for Ryan O’Reilly. It was a lot to give up but it turned out great for Armstrong and the Blues. As we know, the team won the Cup thanks in part to O’Reilly’s strong play. It was good enough for O’Reilly to take home the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs MVP.

The Bad – Armstrong might be a wizard when it comes to unloading bad contracts. It’s a skill he’s acquired because he has a knack of overpaying players. It’s something Armstrong has done too many times. Jori Lehtera was signed for three-years at an average salary of $4.7M and then dumped in a trade for Brayden Schenn.

Berglund had the same fate. Armstrong signed him in 2017 to five-years for $3.85M. Berglund’s awful contract was sent to Buffalo as a part of the O’Reilly exchange. Berglund’s ticket wasn’t the only one dropped on the Sabres in the O’Reilly trade. Armstrong also included Sobotka because he had foolishly given the Russian a three-year $3.5M contract.

The Ugly – For some reason, in 2014 Armstrong felt like he needed a premiere goaltender even though he already had Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott on his roster. Instead of rolling with the tandem, Armstrong decided to ship Halak with a first-round draft pick in 2015 (which was later traded to Winnipeg who selected Jack Roslovic), a third-round pick in the 2016 draft (that was traded to Florida who selected Linus Nassen), William Carrier, and Chris Stewart to the Sabres for their new preferred stopper Ryan Miller and center Steve Ott.

Miller’s save percentage in his only season in St Louis was .903 and .897 in the playoffs. He left at season’s end to sign as a UFA with the Canucks. That same season, Halak was flipped to the Capitals where he had a .930 save percentage in the regular season but the team didn’t qualify for the playoffs. Armstrong would have been much better off having done nothing instead of swinging for the fences with this trade.