There are many ways in determining what makes a good NHL general manager. Sometimes it's rebuilding an organization that has fallen on hard times and turning it back into a contender. Or it could be maintaining a team that has been successful year in and year out through shrewd drafting and a timely trade.
Among the GMs who have made their mark early in the 2010-11 are the guys in charge of Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia, which is coming off a Stanley Cup Final appearance, surprising Tampa Bay, looking to get back in the playoffs after a three-season absence, and surging Phoenix, which wants to build off its breakthrough campaign of a season ago.
There are 30 general managers whose work this season has only just begun, but NHL.com's Brian Compton handicaps the early race for top executive.
Paul Holmgren, Philadelphia Flyers -- The architect of a team that was already built for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Holmgren found ways to improve his squad both prior to and during the early part of the 2010-11 season. The free-agent signing of Russian goaltender Sergei Bobrovksy could end up being the steal of the century in Philadelphia as Bobrovsky has flourished as the club's No. 1 goaltender. Not only do the Flyers find themselves in a first-place tie in the Eastern Conference, but Holmgren has signed Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux to extensions in the past month.
Steve Yzerman, Tampa Bay -- It didn't take very long for the Hall-of-Fame player to change the culture in Tampa Bay. Yzerman tabbed Guy Boucher, just 38, as coach less than a month after landing his first job as a GM. With additions such as Simon Gagne up front, Brett Clark on defense and Dan Ellis between the pipes to go with superstars such as Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, the Lightning are primed to contend in the Southeast Division all season long.
Don Maloney, Phoenix -- Despite a heavy payroll, the Coyotes' GM continues to find ways to keep his team competitive. The Coyotes took a six-game winning streak into Tuesday's match against Edmonton. Free-agent acquisition Ray Whitney leads the team with 14 points (3 goals, 11 assists) in 18 games and the team found a way to survive without captain Shane Doan, who missed several games through suspension and injury.