Puck Daddy are doing an “Alt History” take on each NHL team. It got me thinking and then falling down very dark wormhole of, “which GM did this and which did that? If only this had happened and if only that”.
How best to rate each GM on how they ran the team? Championships? Not entirely fair given it can take years to see results from draft to development.
Playoff appearances? Again dependent on the team you are left with when your predecessor moves on.
Trades? A good measure but needs to be tempered by pieces yet to show in more recent deals.
Drafting? Another good quantifier and generally a good indicator of the man in charge and how much he trusts his scouts or how much he prefers to go with his gut.
Free Agency? Also a good indicator of whether a GM can sometimes be over-excited by the free-for-all that is July 1st or too timid and slow to correct his teams needs with contracts.
I tried to do a combination of all of the above with higher emphasis on trades and drafting while throwing in commentary on how the team did under each particular GM.
Jack Ferreira: 1993 - 98
The inaugural GM always has the worst job but also the least expectations. Ferreira managed to draft a mildly competitive team from the expansion draft, while expansion brother Florida put together a team that made it to the Stanley Cup Finals just two years later. Ferreira didn't really make many big name trades during his tenure; he even got some criticism from the local press. His biggest swap, however, is probably the most memorable in franchise history: acquiring Teemu Selanne for Oleg Tverdovsky and Chad Kilger. His drafting was surprisingly good - his signings didn’t scream success but at the time big name players were not likely to want to sign with an expansion team. Ferreira finally made the playoffs in 1997 but was demoted at the end of the next season when Paul Kariya’s first holdout ultimately doomed the team.
Kariya - 93 - 4th overall
Shtalenkov - 93 - 5th round
Tverdovsky - 94 - 2nd overall
Trnka - 94 - 5th round
Leclerc - 95 - 3rd round
Salei - 96 - 9th overall
Cullen - 96 - 2nd round
The year he took Kilger in the first round he could have taken Shane Doan, Radek Dvorak, Jarome Iginla, JS Giguere or Petr Sykora. Lucky for him he flicked Kilger in the Selanne deal and Kilger ended up being a massive bust. He also took Swedish center Michael Holmqvist 18th overall in 1997 when he could have taken Scott Hannan or Brenden Morrow.
Ready for a trip down memory lane? The first ever free agent Duck signings were:
Myles O’Connor, Peter Douris, and Shaun Van Allen. Other names you might remember - JF Jomphe & Denny Lambert. He also signed journeyman Sean Pronger. In the offseason of 1995 amidst rumors the Ducks were courting Wayne Gretzky (but balked at his asking price), he made probably his biggest dip in free agency when he signed the aging Jarri Kurri to play with Selanne and Kariya. Kurri ended up playing a reduced role but did help in getting the Ducks to their first playoff appearance that season. He also signed Tomas Sandstrom in 1997.
Ferreira hired and stuck by Ron Wilson for almost his entire tenure. He controversially fired him the offseason after he had just given the franchise its first appearance in the playoffs, apparently due to “philosophical differences”. But the move was said to have been a call made by Disney.
Playoff Appearances: 1
Franchise Shifting Trades: 1
Draft Rating: B+
Coach Management: D
Free Agency rating: B
Number of Kariya holdouts: 1
Pierre Gauthier: 1998 - 2002
Gauthier took over from Ferriera and attempted to build around the now dynamic Kariya-Selanne tandem. His attempts to make the Ducks more than a one-line team appeared to be his obsession until two years into the job he dealt Selanne when the wheels finally fell off. Gauthier definitely did a lot better on his trades than he did in drafting. I think of all the Ducks GMs, he have drafted the most A-grade busts.
Remember when we all pinned our hopes on Smirnov (AKA Vodka) and Chistov (AKA Cheese)? Finding Gerber and Parenteau in the 8th and 9th round were some almost Detroit level steals, but overall, Gauthier was pretty terrible at the draft.
When the Ducks finished dead last in the Western Conference at the conclusion of the 2000-2001 the writing was on the wall.
Samuel Pahlsson for Nazarov and Traverse
JS Giguere for a 2nd round pick
Selanne for Friesen, Shields, 2nd round pick
Leopold for Nazarov & 2nd round pick
Vishnevski - 98 - 5th overall
Jordan Leopold - 99 - 2nd overall
Tenkrat - 99 - 8th round
Ilya Bryzgalov - 2000 - 2nd round
Gerber - 2001 - 8th round
PA Parentaeau - 2001 - 9th round
Peat - 98 - 2nd round
Smirnov - 2000 - 12th overall
Chistov - 2001 - 5th overall - could have taken Mikko Koivu, Hemsky
Mark Popovic - 2001 - 2nd round
Gauthier kicked off his first free agency by signing Patrick Lalime to a 1 year deal (the Ducks had previously acquired his rights in a deal involving Sean Pronger). He also signed Frederik Olausson away from the Penguins on a 2 year deal.
The best signing that I can find is likely that of Andy McDonald in 2000 - which can be largely credited to David McNabb. He also signed Dan Byslma and German Titov in the same offseason.
Coaches didn’t last long under Gauthier; he hired and fired Craig Hartsburg and Guy Charron during his tenure before ironically hiring his eventual usurper, Bryan Murray.
Playoff Appearances: 1
Franchise Shifting Trades: 0
Draft Rating: C-
Coach Management: D
Free Agency rating: D
Waiver Management: B
Bryan Murray: 2002 - 2004
Bryan Murray was thrown a hospital pass when he came into the job in 2002. But as you will see by this article’s end, I think he has quietly done the best job of the bunch so far. He not only saw the team to its first Stanley Cup Finals appearance in franchise history in his first year as GM, but he also laid the ground work for the franchise to eventually win that championship. He did not make many (or any that I deemed to be) terrible trades and was responsible for drafting the two franchise players on which the club is built around today.
28th overall pick (Corey Perry) - for two 2003 2nd rounders
Rob Neidermayer - for Mike Commodore & JF Damphousse
Steve Thomas - for 2003 5th rounder
Petr Sykora - for Friesen & Tverdovsky
N/A, though suggestions in the comments are welcome
Joffrey Lupul - 2002 - 7th overall
Ryan Getzlaf - 2003 - 19th overall
Corey Perry - 2003 - 28th overall
Tim Brent - 2002 - 2nd round
Murray signed Adam Oates to a 3.5 million dollar deal in the summer of 2002 with an extra year option. He brought back Frederik Olausson for one last ride less than a week after the Petr Sykora deal to replace Tverdovsky on the blueline.
He lost Paul Kariya to free agency when the all time franchise leader surprised everybody and signed a cheap deal to join Teemu in Colorado following the 2002-03 Cup Finals appearance year. To counter this, Murray used the money meant for Kariya on Sergei Federov, inking him to a 5 year, $40 million deal. He also signed Chris Kunitz (again McNabb) and Vinny Prospal in 2003. In his final months with the Ducks he signed Curtis Glencross to a 3 year deal and inked the undrafted Dustin Penner.
He hired Mike Babcock as his successor when he took over the GM role - another very smart choice. Babs stayed for Murrays entire tenure - seeing the Ducks to the Cup Finals in his first year behind the bench.
Playoff Appearances: 1 (Cup Finals)
Franchise Shifting Trades: 2
Coach Management: A+
Free Agency Rating: B+
Number of Kariyas lost: 1
Waiver Management: B
Al Coates: 2004 - 2005 (Interim)
Coates was interim GM during the 2004-2005 lockout after Bryan Murray left unexpectedly to head back east to Ottawa, he only made 3 trades as the Ducks GM and all of them were terrible. He also managed to select Ladislav Smid 9th overall when the likes of Drew Stafford, Devan Dubnyk, Alexander Radulov and Travis Zajac were available. He also wasted a 3rd round pick on re-drafting Tim Brent who the Ducks already held the rights to but had failed to sign.
Martin Gerber for Tomas Malec?
Niclas Havelid for Kurtis Foster?
Vinny Prospal for 2005 2nd rounder
Smid - 2004 - 9th Overall
Jordan Smith - 2004 - 2nd round
Tim Brent (again?) - 2004 - 3rd round
He signed Zenon Konopka to a 2 year deal during the lockout as well as inking Perry & Getzlaf to their 3 year entry level deals before the Samuelis took ownership of the team during 2005 and brought Brian Burke on board.
Playoff Appearances: 0
Franchise Shifting Trades: 0
Free Agency Rating: C
Brian Burke: 2005 - 2008
The man who would bring the Ducks their first Stanley Cup Championship will forever be known for his brashness and no nonsense attitude. He expected his teams to play in a similar fashion.
Burke wasted no time in changing the style and outlook of the Ducks by getting Todd Fedoruk from the Flyers in his first trade. This was like a symbolic passing of the “goon” torch and a signal of what was yet to come. Burke built a strong team and was quick to reject or deal any perceived “soft” players.
He was also the man who brought Scott Neidermayer to town and later, Chris Pronger - without whom the Ducks would not have won their first championship. His one possible downfall was his drafting - as we saw later with the Maple Leafs; he had a tendency to favor North Americans over Europeans. The extreme opposite to Gauthier and his Russian busts; Burke passed up opportunities to take players like Patrick Berglund. It is also pure coincidence but still curious that the franchise should lose its “Disney” image and change their name to just the Ducks under Burke’s regime.
Travis Moen for Mikael Holmqvist
Francois Beauchemin for Sergei Federov
Sean O'Donnell for Joel Perrault
Chris Pronger for Lupul, Smid, 2007 1st (Nick Ross), 2008 2nd (Harmonic) & conditional 2008 1st round if Ducks reach 2006-2007 finals (Eberle)
Maxim Kondratiev? for Petr Sykora
Jeff Friesen (again?) for 2006 2nd rounder
Caron & AHL fodder for PA Parentaeau
Mark Hartigan and Joe Motzko for Curtis Glencross & Zenon Konopka
Doug Weight, 2008 7th rounder and AHL fodder for Andy McDonald
Bobby Ryan - 2005 - 2nd overall
Matt Beleskey - 2006 - 4th round
Jake Gardiner - 2008 - 17th overall
Justin Schultz - 2008 - 2nd round (booooooooo)
Brendan Mikkelson - 2005 - 2nd round
Mark Mitera - 19th overall - 2006 - could have had Giroux, Varlamov, Berglund
Bryce Swan?? - 2006 - 2nd round
Logan MacMillan - 2007 - 19th overall - could have had Pacioretty, Perron
Eric Tangradi - 2007 - 2nd round - could have had PK Subban (the pick right after)
Nicolas Deschamps - 2008 - 2nd round - could have had Roman Josi 2 picks later
By far his biggest signing and one of his earliest; two months into the job Burke shocked the hockey world by signing Scott Neidermayer to a 5 year deal. He brought even more joy to Ducks fans when he followed that by bringing home Teemu Selanne on a 1 year deal. He signed serviceable D-Man (and later Nick Bonino trade-bait) Kent Huskins but then managed to lose Chris Kunitz on waivers. Thankfully the Thrashers were just as inept and allowed the Ducks to pick him back up within the month. He also claimed Todd Marchant from waivers a month later (nice work Columbus).
He signed Andrew Ebbett and Jonas Hiller soon after the Ducks cup win. He also signed Matheiu Schnieder during the offseason when Neidermayer started playing with the idea of retirement.
In what is likely the most atypical Burke move ever, he brought in Todd Bertuzzi on a 2 year $8m deal - 3 years after his assault on Steve Moore. Truculence.
Burke was also a part of and will always be remembered for “PennerGate” AKA “GM Barn Fight”. When then-Oilers GM Kevin Lowe took advantage of the Ducks post cup-win-possible-neidermayer-retirement cap hell and signed Dustin Penner to an offer sheet worth 21.25 million. Burke was incredulous - and later revealed to have rented a barn and set dates so that the two could fight. Truculence.
The Ducks, of course, received generous compensation in the form of a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round pick. The 1st eventually became Jake Gardiner, Nick Deschamps and Eric O’Dell, the 2nd Justin Schultz (booooooooooooo), and the 3rd was dealt for Marc Andre Bergeron.
Controversial at the time, he waived Ilya Bryzgalov; allowing the goaltender to assume a number one role with another team in what he termed an act of loyalty. Except the Ducks probably could have at least got a 2nd for him and the team he went to was the in-division Phoenix Coyotes.
In the 2008 off season he signed Brendan Morrison after having to ship Andy McDonald to the Blues during the season to make way for Nediermayer to come back. It is fitting that his last signing was Bret Hedican before he left for Toronto a month later.
Babcock rejected a 1 year contract extension and left soon after Burke was brought on board as apparently term and money were the issue. He was replaced by Randy Carlyle - a man built in Burke’s own image. Interestingly the Ducks had to give up compensatory picks for the Carlyle hire — one of which turned into Wayne Simmonds.
Playoff Appearances: 4 (Including Cup Championship)
Franchise Shifting Trades: 2
Draft Rating: C-
Free Agency Rating: A+
Coach Management: B
Waiver Management: B+
Bob Murray: 2008 - Present
That leads us to present day Bob Murray, the longest serving GM in the organization’s history - which means he has no excuses. Bob has taken us to where we are today. Which is to say, a Ducks team that is still a Stanley Cup contender but for whose window some say is quickly shutting.
Franchise stars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are entering their twilight years on cap-heavy contracts while some puzzling free-agency signings of the recent past have either left him handcuffed or directly forced him to mismanage assets. A lot of his tenure and rating is going to be a matter of opinion - particularly with regard to some of the franchise shifting trades that several Ducks fans sit on either side of. Bob Murray is also very, very, very bad at waivers.
Nick Bonino & Timo Pielmeier for Kent Huskins & Travis Moen
Lubomir Visnovsky for Ryan Whitney & a 6th round pick
Curtis McElhinney for Vesa Toskala
Patrick Maroon & David Laliberte (who?) for Rob Bordson (who?) & Danny Syvret
2011 1st (Rickard Rakell) and 2nd (John Gibson) for 2011 1st (Tyler Biggs)
2011 6th (Josh Manson) for 2012 6th (Ryan Rupert)
Andrew Cogliano for 2013 2nd (Marc-Olivier Roy)
Matheiu Perreault for John Mitchell & 2014 4th round pick
Jiri Sekac for Devante Smith-Pelly
Simon Depres for Ben Lovejoy
Carl Hagelin, 2015 2nd (Nattinen) & 2015 6th (Garret Metcalf) for Emerseon Etem & 2015 2nd rounder from Palmieri deal
Ryan Whitney for Chris Kunitz & Eric Tangradi (the lack of Ducks defensive depth after Neidermayer kept coming in and out of retirment and Pronger getting old forced his hand here)
2011 3rd rounder (Joseph Cramarossa) for James Wisniewski
Francois Beauchemin for Jake Gardiner & Joffrey Lupul
Ryan Kesler & 2015 3rd rounder (Sideroff) for Luca Sbisa, Nick Bonino, 2014 1st (Jared McCann) & 2014 3rd (Traded for Derek Sorsett) (Editors Note: I 100000% disagree that this was a bad trade but you know creative freedom or some crap like that - CJ)
James Wisniewski (again - and never used) & 2015 3rd (Brent Gates) for Rene Bourque, Wild Bill Karlsson & 2015 2nd rounder
Anton Khudobin for James Wisniewski
2015 2nd (later used in Hagelin for Etem deal), 2016 3rd (later dealt for Jamie McGinn) for Kyle Palmieri
Martin Gernat (who?) & 2016 4th (Jack Kopacka) for Patrick Maroon
Letting Steffan Noesen get claimed on waivers
Letting Joseph Cramarossa get claimed on waivers
Washes-Hard To Tell:
The Bobby Ryan trade (Editor’s Note: see last editor’s note - CJ)
The Frederik Andersen trade
Note: I put the Kesler deal in the bad category because Nick Bonino has gone on to win 2 cups, not even Sbisa being terrible can cancel that out.
Kyle Palmieri - 2009 - 26th overall
Sami Vatanen - 2009 - 4th round
Cam Fowler - 2010 - 12th overall
Chris Wagner - 2010 - 5th round
Rickard Rakell - 2011 - 30th overall
John Gibson - 2011 - 2nd round
Josh Manson - 2011 - 6th round
Hampus Lindholm - 2012 - 6th overall
Nic Kerdiles - 2012 - 2nd round
Frederick Anderson - 2012 - 3rd round
Jaycob Megna - 2012 - 7th round
Shea Theodore - 2013 - 26th overall
Brandon Montour - 2014 - 2nd round
Ondrej Kase - 2014 - 7th round
Peter Holland - 2009 - 15th overall
Mat Clark - 2009 - 2nd round (could have taken Silfverberg 2 picks later)
I realize a few of these players are not full time NHLers yet but some of them are also very recent draft picks. I am giving them the benefit of the doubt in that I believe they will eventually become NHL regulars as soon as this year.
One of Bob’s first signings was Dan Sexton - which has McNabb written all over it. The Bowling Green State standout didn't quite live up to Andy McDonald levels of hype but still put up reasonable numbers in two seasons for the Ducks. Over the 2009 summer he brought in Saku Koivu in an attempt to get the long-time Montreal Canadien his first Stanley Cup but the Finnish captain eventually came up disappointingly short.
Murray lost Andrew Ebbett on waivers and was forced to sign Kyle Calder to a contract. Calder had been previously released after he attended Ducks training camp on a tryout. He also lost Erik Christensen on waivers two months later.
He brought in Toni Lydman to help shore up the defense. The hard-wearing Finnish blueliner played surprisingly well for his age, playing warrior minutes in all situations. He also brought in Andreas Lilja on a one year deal at the start of the 2010 season.
It appears Murray’s obsession with locking up slow, terrible defenders to long term deals began in 2012 with Bryan Allen. He also signed Sheldon Souray to a similar deal that summer, but Souray was actually halfway decent when not injured. Allen, on the other hand, was a dead weight. His smartest signing of 2012 was likely Daniel Winnik. The vastly underrated winger was a force on the penalty kill.
In the summer of 2013 he brought back Dustin Penner on a one year deal and the hulking winger seemed to relish his opportunity to play with Getzlaf and Perry again. However, he soon lost favor with management and was dealt at the trade deadline.
Letting Perrault walk in the summer of 2014 was a weird move considering he would have looked much better on the Ducks today than Antoine Vermette. There was also the Dany Heatley experiment. Yeah...
Extending Bieska to a 2 year contract extension in 2015 in conjunction with the horrendous Clayton Stoner contract is ultimately what has put the Ducks in the cap situation they are today. This lead to losing one of their better defensive prospects in Shea Theodore. But he did sign Chris Stewart and Mike Santorelli in the same offseason. Both of whom were good contributors on cheap, Bargain Bob patented deals.
In recent years he has made a lot more undrafted collegiate signings that have allowed the Ducks the options to make moves and deal from strengths in all areas.
A common trend with Bob’s annual off season foray into free agency is to expect disappointment. Other than Saku Koivu - he has not made a single big-name signing. Every summer there is a spattering of 3rd and 4th line journeymen brought in on 1-2 year deals or 3rd pairing D men given far too much money to take up space on the roster.
Murray stuck with Carlyle for a few seasons - but possibly a few seasons too long as he ultimately molded the team in his image and Carlyle continued to play the no longer relevant Burke grind style. Carlyle was fired midway through the 2011 season and replaced by Bruce Boudreau - a coach more fit for the speed transition game. But after only getting past the second round once and 5 straight Game 7 losses at home, Murray fired Boudreau and rehired the more playoff-proven Carlyle under the premise that Carlyle had adapted and would not repeat his mistakes of the past.
Playoff Appearances: 6
Franchise Shifting Trades: 3
Draft Rating: A+
Free Agency Rating: D
Coach Management: B
Waiver Management: F
Bryan Murray seemed to have the knack for trades and did ok at drafting. Burke was the king of Free Agency and high risk/reward deals. Bob Murray has quietly done a very good job at the draft table but has never stepped up to make that Cup championship signing. If we could somehow fuse all three together into some psuedo-voltron-mecha GM that would be perfect.But for now, I guess we are stuck with Bob and hoping the kids turn out to be the next franchise cornerstones.