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GM of the Year: Poile builds Preds into a contender

Monday, 04.02.2012 / 3:59 PM / Trophy Tracker

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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GM of the Year: Poile builds Preds into a contender
Part of the Nashville franchise since its beginning in the NHL, David Poile has made a series of moves to transform the Predators into a serious contender in the Western Conference.
The front office and coaching staff in Nashville has demonstrated consistency since the franchise entered the National Hockey League in 1998.
 
And general manager David Poile has consistently provided results. This season is no different, and Poile is NHL.com's choice to win GM of the Year honors as we reach the conclusion of the 2011-12 season.

WINNER

David Poile, Nashville Predators -- Despite some fierce competition in the Central Division and Western Conference, Poile's group will once again participate in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Under the guidance of coach Barry Trotz -- who, like Poile, has been with the franchise since the beginning -- the Predators have been one of the top five teams in the ultra-competitive West all season long. The Preds -- who have won at least 40 games in each of the last seven seasons -- are still fighting for home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.

2011-12 NHL TROPHY TRACKER

With the final week of the regular season upon us, NHL.com takes a look at which players from around the League are on track to be considered for some of hockey's most storied awards.
Poile recently bolstered his group of forwards with the acquisition of Paul Gaustad from the Buffalo Sabres and the return of Alexander Radulov from Russia.

"There's a trust and an understanding that we're trying to do something together," Trotz recently told the team’s website. "It's not something as an individual, it's something we're trying to do as a group; a family, organization, a team -- a true team instead of individuals, and I think that's why it works."

FINALISTS

Don Maloney, Phoenix Coyotes -- Maloney has dealt with plenty of adversity over the past few seasons in the desert, but he keeps finding ways to keep his team competitive.
 
Despite a plethora of hurdles, Maloney's group has been in a dogfight for a Pacific Division title all season long. Under the guidance of coach Dave Tippett -- one of the best in the business – and the remarkable goaltending of Mike Smith, the Coyotes will likely be in the race for the No. 3 seed until Saturday's regular-season finale.
 
Never looking to take the credit, Maloney knows he has a gem behind the bench in Tippett, who recently notched his 400th career victory.
 
"He's as fierce a competitor as anyone I've ever seen," Maloney said. "He's really got a finger on the pulse of his team. He can identify the things that really make a difference between winning and losing."

Paul Holmgren, Philadelphia Flyers -- One would have thought after he traded away key players -- including captain Mike Richards and scoring center Jeff Carter -- that Holmgren’s group would have taken a step back in 2011-12.
 
Not so.
 
Sure, he gave a boatload of money to Ilya Bryzgalov, but Holmgren's ability to land the eighth pick at the 2011 Entry Draft (Sean Couturier), combined with the vision to take a gamble on free agent Matt Read are two key reasons why the Flyers have once again reached the 100-point plateau this season.
 
Couturier, 19, has been a solid two-way centerman for Philadelphia, while the 25-year-old Read is among the League’s top rookie goal scorers.
 
And let’s not forget, Holmgren managed to land stay-at-home defenseman Nicklas Grossmann from the Dallas Stars after learning captain Chris Pronger would be lost for the season due to post-concussion syndrome.
 
"I like our team," Holmgren said after the trade deadline passed. "I think we're a team that obviously the group for the most part has been together all year. We’ve put some young guys into the lineup over the course of the year, and we like our team. We like the direction we're heading."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

Quote of the Day

What we expected is what we got. Very mature young individual that's focused. He is on the right track. He's not only a great hockey individual, but he's a good person off the ice. He seemed to take a leadership role with this group right off the hop and ran away with it, and was vocal, was respectful, was everything it takes to be a Panther. His future looks bright.

— Florida Panthers director of player development Brian Skrudland on defenseman Aaron Ekblad's performance at development camp