Being a GM in the NHL is much easier said than done. 19 of the 30 current NHL GMs began their reign in 2013 or later. There are only three who managed their team before the 2004-05 lockout and remain there today. Those stats tell you the whole story: It is not an easy job at all.
Some GMS don't get ownership's approval to spend big, make the blockbuster trades, and sometimes they don't have the right scouts to help them make the right draft selections. Some GMs just happen to make poor trades, hand out lucrative contracts to players who don't pan out well, and often make terrible draft selections.
But if you look at Stanley Cup-winning GMs like Stan Bowman in Chicago, Dean Lombardi in Los Angeles, and Jim Rutherford in Pittsburgh, you can see they always seem to make the right call. Of course, many GMs didn't fit the bill.
Here are the 15 worst GMS since 2000.
15 Glen Sather
The mastermind of the Edmonton Oilers '80s dynasty did his job there, but his tenure in New York was one you can call successful, oddly enough. Sather took over the GM role in 2000 and stepped down in 2015. The Rangers made the playoffs all but one year from 2006-2015 and won the Eastern Conference in 2014. But make no mistake, Glen Sather was not a great GM in New York by any means.
He handed out toxic contracts to Wade Redden, Chris Drury, and Scott Gomez. All of those guys were stars before coming over to New York. Sather was not the main reason the Rangers were successful. He simply had unlimited cash to spend and never seemed to spend it in a useful manner. Bobby Holik was another free agent pickup that didn't pan out.
Sather did have some nice draftees, such as Henrik Lundqvist and Chris Kreider. But going back to 2010, it has been a major disappointment for the most part. Sather's tenure in New York wasn't as luxurious as it was in Edmonton by any means.
14 Don Sweeney
Don Sweeney is low on this list because he's only completed one full season as GM of the Boston Bruins. But most of the moves he made were utterly disastrous. Here's a look at what he did after taking over for Peter Chiarelli over a year ago:
He traded Dougie Hamilton, the team's rising star defenceman, to the Calgary Flames. Hamilton was a key draft selection that came via the Phil Kessel trade and Zdeno Chara's play declined significantly. The Bruins had their Chara replacement but couldn't strike him to a deal. That didn't make any sense.
The team also made a controversial decision to trade beloved power forward Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings. Boston loaded up on three first-round selections in 2015, but experts were puzzled by each pick. Those three guys all failed conditioning tests before last season opened. Sweeney then held onto 30-goal man Loui Eriksson instead of dealing him at the trade deadline. Boston gambled and lost, missing the playoffs altogether. Sweeney replaced him by signing aging veteran David Backes to a five-year deal worth $30 million.
That money should have gone to Eriksson, who scores more and is a better fit in Boston.
13 Chuck Fletcher
Chuck Fletcher became the Minnesota Wild's GM in 2009. Though the Wild have qualified for the playoffs in each of the last four seasons, Fletcher hasn't done a whole lot right since taking over. You may point to the fact he brought in Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, who have been bonafide stars with the Wild since joining The State of Hockey. However, the 13-year deals were too much. give it two or three years until the team looks back and regrets those contracts.
Fletcher recently had to buy out Thomas Vanek, a consistent 50-point scorer who failed miserably in Minny. He traded for Jason Pominville in 2013, who besides his 30 goals in 2013-14, has failed with the team. Fletcher surrendered a pair of draft picks and prospects for that trade. He gave up a pair of second-round selections for Matt Moulson in 2014, who had just 13 points in 20 games with them. Fletcher's failed to bring in more scoring for the Wild and took too long to fire Mike Yeo.
The Wild may be stuck in mediocrity as long as he's around.
12 Greg Sherman
GM of the Colorado Avalanche from June 2009 to late September 2014, Greg Sherman's squad had plenty of talented players to build around. Though Semyon Varlamov has been a great goalie with the Avs, they could have looked elsewhere for other options. They surrendered their 2011 first-rounder to get him, and that pick became Filip Forsberg.
He gave up early on promising blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk and 20-goal man, Chris Stewart. He traded that duo to the St. Louis Blues for Jay McClement (third liner), Erik Johnson, and a first-round pick. He had a series of poor draft selections, namely Duncan Siemens and Joey Hishon.
Sherman also swapped draft picks with the Los Angeles Kings in 2010, and one of those picks they gave away turned out to be 20-goal scorer Tyler Toffoli. The Avs were mired mediocrity with Sherman, who also failed to bring in any big-named free agents to help the rebuilding Avalanche.
Two years after he was dethroned as GM, and this team is still mediocre at best.
11 George McPhee
George McPhee built the current Capitals roster as we know it today. He is the guy who brought in Braden Holtby, Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, and others. The GM of Washington from 1997-2014 made some good moves, but the team held on to him for far too long.
Among his worst moves was surrendering prized prospect Filip Forsberg for second-liner Martin Erat, who was eventually bought out from the team. Most of his drafts were horrible, with Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Semyon Varlamov being rare exceptions. He took Eric Fehr in 2003 while missing out on guys like Zach Parise and Ryan Getzlaf. He also made the mind-boggling decision to trade Jaromir Jagr in 2004 for Anson Carter.
Now Carter had some nice seasons, but Jagr is a once-in-a-lifetime player, still dominating the NHL at 44. McPhee deserves credit for building the dominant Capitals roster we know today, but there's a reason whey were a laughingstock from 1999-2007.
10 Dave Taylor
The former Los Angeles Kings GM had some bright moments with the team, but from 1997-2006, the Kings were among the NHL's worst teams. Dave Taylor traded away potential franchise goalie Byron Dafoe to Boston in his first year as GM. In 1999, he traded away future superstar Olli Jokinen in a giant six-player trade that included draft picks.
Kimmo Timonen, one of the most underrated blueliners of his generation, was traded by Taylor to the Nashville Predators. They then made a fateful mistake of trading away franchise blueliner Rob Blake in a deal that brought past-his-prime forward Adam Deadmarsh and other aspects. Colorado won the Cup that year when they got Blake.
Jason Blake, who was a five-time 20-goal scorer, was traded by Taylor to the New York Islanders in 2001. They traded slick puck-moving blueliner and consistent 20-goal man Mathieu Schneider to the Detroit Red Wings in 2003. Taylor had plenty of stars in his lap, but gave them all away without securing any quality assets in return.
9 Darcy Regier
Darcy Regier lasted 16 seasons as the Buffalo Sabres GM. Sure, they made the Stanley Cup Final in 1997 and had back-to-back Eastern Conference Final appearances in 2006 and 2007, but they were one of the NHL's worst teams during his tenure.
After the Sabres won the President's Trophy in 2007, Regier made a very controversial call in not opting to keep Chris Drury or Daniel Briere, the team's top top two players. The Sabres struggled the following two seasons but bounced back to reach the playoffs in 2010 and 2011. Again, Regier made some bad moves.
He signed one-dimensional defenceman Christian Ehrhoff to a 1o-year deal worth $40 million and paid Ville Leino a six-year deal worth $27 million. Both contracts were major disasters, to say the least. Regier failed to keep core players together and when he tried replacing them, it became a huge mess, to say the least.
8 Jay Feaster (With Calgary Flames)
Jay Feaster won a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, but his move to Calgary was a disaster. He was only GM from Dec. 28, 2010 to Dec. 2013. But he did plenty of damage to the team that took the organization a while to overcome.
For starters, he got almost nothing for Jarome Iginla, getting a first-rounder and two mediocre prospects who haven't made it to the NHL. Calgary then traded standout defenceman Jay Bouwmeester to the St. Louis Blues, but got very little in return for him as well. The team failed to secure draft picks and prospects for two franchise stars.
Feaster also avoided complete embarrassment when the Colorado Avalanche matched an offer sheet for Ryan O'Reilly (two years, $10 million). Had the Avs not matched it, O'Reilly would have to pass through waivers (which he surely wouldn't have), before Calgary could have gotten him. They would have had to also surrender their 2013 first and third-round picks. That first-round pick became Sean Monahan. Feaster didn't notice this mistake and the worst move he could have made with Calgary luckily didn't take place.
7 Darryl Sutter
Most of us know Darryl Sutter today as the man who has won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Los Angeles Kings. But well before that, he was once head coach for the Calgary Flames, but later became GM. One of the not-so-greatest GMS, at that.
Sutter was named GM late during the 2003 season, and would hold that position until the end of 2010, when management essentially told him to step down, or else he would be fired. Sutter was the right man as head coach, taking them to the Stanley Cup in 2004 and helping them reach the playoffs in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. However, Sutter made some terrible mistakes as Calgary's GM.
He allowed his brother Brent to coach the Flames into mediocrity, but of course he wouldn't fire his own brother (then again, would you?). He traded away cornerstone defenceman Dion Phaneuf for overpaid veterans, traded away fading star Olli Jokinen in 2010 then brought him back the following season. Sutter also traded away top-four blueliner Anton Stralman for almost nothing in return.
6 Dave Nonis
Dave Nonis was both Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs GM, and he simply didn't get the job done with either. With Vancouver, the lone significant move he did was bring in goaltender Roberto Luongo. However, he refused to take chances and played it far too safe, refusing to part with prospects and young roster players that didn't last long in Vancouver, anyway.
In 2008, the Canucks were in on Brad Richards, Marian Hossa, and Olli Jokinen at the trade deadline. Nonis stayed put and the Canucks would miss the playoffs and hand him his pink slip.
Nonis got another chance as GM with the Toronto Maple Leafs (Starting in the 2013 season and lasted until 2015). He overpaid for underachieving blueliner Dion Phaneuf, and threw a ton of dough at one-year wonder David Clarkson to a seven-year deal worth $36.75 million (who was luckily traded later on to Columbus). Nonis gave way too big of contracts to guys who weren't star players, namely Joffrey Lupul (five years), and second-line centre Tyler Bozak (five years, $21 million).
5 Brian Burke (With Toronto Maple Leafs)
Brian Burke was an excellent GM with the Vancouver Canucks, pulling off the unthinkable by drafting both Daniel and Henrik Sedin in 1999. He was a huge reason the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007 after bringing over Chris Pronger as the final piece to the puzzle.
As for his tenure in Toronto, it was nothing more than a mess. He held onto head coach Ron Wilson for far too long (how does a guy who coaches his team to bottom-10 league finishes in his first three seasons get another chance?). Burke made the awful call to trade for Phil Kessel in 2009, giving up his 2010 and 2011 first-round picks. Those selections became Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton. If it's any consolation, the Boston Bruins were equally as silly for trading them away.
He also took a chance on blueliner Mike Komisarek, paying him a five-year deal worth $22.5 million. As everyone knows, that was one of the worst moves made in team history. Burke's drafting was also brutal. Then again, he didn't get much of a chance there since he gave up selections for Phil Kessel.
4 Paul Holmgren
Paul Holmgren had plenty aggression as the Flyers GM. He did make some great moves, such as trading away Mike Richards and Jeff Carter which brought in the likes of Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, Jakub Voracek and a first-round pick that became Sean Couturier.
But Holmgren got far too aggressive in free agency. He signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million contract but Bryzgalov wound up becoming a compliance buyout victim in 2013. The signing of Chris Pronger to a seven-year contract also didn't pan out. Even before his injuries, signing a 34-year-old with plenty of mileage on his body was a huge risk that obviously didn't pay off.
He paid Vincent Lecavalier a five-year contract worth $22.5 million even though he was past his prime and offence wasn't a problem in Philly. He traded promising forward James van Riemsdyk for Luke Schenn, who never developed. There was plenty wrong overall with Holmgren, who was far too aggressive in Philly.
3 Pierre Gauthier
Pierre Gauthier became the Canadiens GM in 2010, but it was not a tenure he would like to remember. He had to choose between Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak in the 2010 offseason. Though Price obviously had more upside, Halak came off an incredible playoff run that helped Montreal take down Washington (President's Trophy winners), and Pittsburgh (defending Stanley Cup champions), before losing to Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference Final.
Gauthier traded Halak to St. Louis, but only brought in career second-liner Lars Eller and Ian Schultz when he could have gotten way more. Luckily for the Habs, he did at least keep Price. The Habs were struggling in 2011-12, and Head Coach Jacques Martin was fired. Gauthier hired Randy Cunneyworth to take over. Controversy ensued because Cunneyworth wasn't fluent in French, something every other Canadiens coach has been.
Gauthier then traded away star Michael Cammalleri for Rene Bourque, another silly move. He failed to last the remainder of the season, after a series of really bad moves.
2 Mike Gillis
It's hard to believe that a GM would make this list when the team he ran won the Northwest Division title every year from 2009-2013 while falling just one game short of the Stanley Cup championship in 2011.
Well, Mike Gillis was fired for a reason before the conclusion of the 2013-14 offseason. Gillis traded away quality forward Steve Bernier, promising forward Michael Grabner, and a first-round pick for Keith Ballard in 2010, and that man became a compliance buyout. Following a loss to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup in 2011, he signed veteran Marco Sturm, but ended up packaging him in a deal for David Booth.
Booth, a solid player in Florida, managed to be a bust in Vancouver and would also be a compliance buyout. Gillis also traded away franchise netminder for a draft pick that became Bo Horvat. Horvat may be a future star, but Gillis could have gotten way more. Nobody understands why he chose Roberto Luongo over Schneider, and Bobby Lou was traded the following season.
Gillis hired John Tortorella to coach a team who didn't have the players to run his system; and he signed him to a ludicrous five-year deal. His draft record was also a mess. Cody Hodgson, Jordan Schroeder, Nicklas Jensen and Brendan Gaunce were some of his first-rounders that didn't pan out. The fans called for his firing in 2014 and got their wish.
1 Mike Milbury
Mike Milbury, amazingly enough, lasted as the Islanders GM from 1995 to 2006. It's amazing, because very few GMS made so many silly moves that he dd. Man, where do we even start with the web?
Well for starters, he really wanted Alexei Yashin from the Ottawa Senators, so he acquire the Russian star by trading away three pieces, including superstar defenceman Zdeno Chara and the 2001 second-overall pick, which ended up being none other than Jason Spezza. Another terrible move included drafting Rick DiPietro first-overall in 2000, and he managed to be a major disappointment.
Wade Redden, Bryan Berard, Todd Bertuzzi, J.P. Dumont, and Roberto Luongo were other stars he traded away. Milbury's draft moves were terrible, he gave away so many stars (Zigmund Palffy too). It's amazing how many superstar players he managed to trade away. To the surprise of no one, the Islanders were a mediocre team for years and years.
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