To the surprise of very few, earlier today Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman was announced as one of three finalists the GM of the Year Award.
Yzerman, in his first year, has taken the Bolts out of the cellar, led them to a 46-25-11 record, and has them in the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Beyond that, he has erased the circus-like atmosphere that long encompassed this team, and is well on his way to creating respectable, distinguished hockey community in the South.
The news release from the NHL after the jump.
As the NHL announced its second group of finalists for year end awards Wednesday, the League announced that Vancouver's Mike Gillis, Tampa Bay's Steve Yzerman and Nashville's David Poile are the three finalists for the honor of the League's top GM.
The nomination of Gillis should come as little surprise to those around the League. Gillis has steadily built the Canucks into one of the top organizations in the sport, but after crafting a roster that had the best season in franchise history in 2010-11, he is among the most worthy of recognition. Vancouver led the League with 54 wins, 117 points, 258 goals scored and just 180 goals against, as the team won the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in franchise history.
Vancouver's Northwest Division title this season was its fifth in the past seven seasons, and after suffering second-round playoff ousters in both 2009 and 2010 at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, the Canucks hold a commanding 3-1 series lead over Chicago in the first round this year and appear poised for a deep postseason run.
Yzerman, who is in just his first season as a General Manager after several years in Detroit's front office, made several moves last summer, such as signing defensemen Pavel Kubina and Brett Clark and bringing in left-winger Simon Gagne. Those moves, combined with a maturing Steven Stamkos and strong seasons by longtime Bolts Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier have led the Lightning, who spent much of the season in first place in the Southeast Division, to their first playoff berth in four years.
For Poile, this recognition is a continued acknowledgement of the impressive work he has done in his time in Nashville. After being a finalist for this award a season ago, Poile has continued to build a solid team under the radar, bringing in such talents as Mike Fisher, who has been one of the strongest performers in this year's postseason after being brought over from Ottawa in a midseason trade. 2011 marked the sixth time in the last seven seasons that Nashville has reached the postseason.
The winner will be announced at the NHL's annual awards ceremony in Las Vegas on Wednesday, June 22.