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Trophy Tracker: Maloney top candidate for GM of Year

Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 10:43 AM / Trophy Tracker

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Trophy Tracker: Maloney top candidate for GM of Year
There's a lot working against the Phoenix Coyotes, but with the leadership of GM Don Maloney, the team has remained among the best teams in the West

The NHL reached the three-quarter mark of its season this past weekend. Now, with the NHL Trade Deadline in the rear-view mirror, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines -- and award winners -- that have developed across the first 900-plus games of the 1,230-game regular season.

Don Maloney has dealt with plenty of adversity during his tenure as general manager of the Phoenix Coyotes.

Whether it has been the uncertainty of his franchise's future or early ousters in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Maloney and his organization have experienced plenty of obstacles in recent seasons.

2011-12 NHL TROPHY TRACKER

The NHL reached the three-quarter mark of its season this past weekend. Now, with the NHL Trade Deadline in the rear-view mirror, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines -- and award winners -- that have developed across the first 900-plus games of the 1,230-game regular season.
But despite all of those hurdles, Maloney's group is once again chasing a Pacific Division crown. Under the guidance of coach Dave Tippett -- one of the best in the business -- the Coyotes have been sensational in the month of February and are neck and neck with the San Jose Sharks for first place in the Pacific.

The team that wins the division likely will earn the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.

It's for those reasons and more that Maloney is NHL.com's choice to win GM of the Year honors as we reach the three-quarter mark of the 2011-12 season. Maloney recently bolstered his team up the middle with the acquisition of Antoine Vermette from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for goalie Curtis McElhinney and two draft picks.

"We've been talking about this and trying to juggle financially how to fit it in," Maloney said after making the deal. "He (Vermette) had a good contract. It was a matter of making the dollars and cents work. I look at it as it helps us now. And if you look at our centers under contract going forward, with Marty Hanzal and Antoine and Boyd Gordon, that makes us a lot stronger."

RUNNERS-UP

David Poile, Nashville Predators

The man who has been with the same organization since its inception in 1997 manages to find a way to have his team in contention every season. This one is no different.

Poile's group is primed to take another step toward a Stanley Cup this season, as it is gunning for the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference. Poile, who also smartly has stuck with coach Barry Trotz since Day 1, recently added depth to his blue line with the acquisition of Hal Gill from the Montreal Canadiens.

Nashville ownership certainly knows what it has in Poile, as evidenced by the extension he just received that will keep him in the Music City through at least the end of the 2014-15 season.

"The consistent success of the Predators on the ice is directly attributed to his ability to assemble and lead a team of management, coaches, scouts and administrators who continually identify, draft, develop and motive an exceptional group of experienced and young players," chairman Tom Cigarran said. "The ownership group believes that under his leadership, the Nashville Predators will soon achieve its goal of winning the Stanley Cup."

Doug Armstrong, St. Louis Blues

Thirteen games into the season, his team had just six victories. It can't be easy to tell a coach he's being relieved of his duties, but Armstrong knew his team was capable of more and informed Davis Payne his services no longer were required.

In what has proved to be a tremendous move, Armstrong replaced Payne with Ken Hitchcock. The veteran coach has made the Blues one of the best teams in the League, as they have lost only four times in regulation at the Scottrade Center this season and are banging on Detroit's door in the Central Division.

Armstrong has also done a solid job of keeping the future in mind. On Sunday, he traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Ottawa Senators for a second-round draft choice in 2013.

"My belief is the worst trade you can make is on emotion and with a short-term outlook," Armstrong told NHL.com earlier this month. "You're always looking to see if you can improve your team, but I like this group and I like the depth that we have here. But we're like two-thirds of the NHL -- we work under a business framework and whatever deals we make have to fit into that plan."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

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