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NHL Awards staff picks: GM of the Year Award

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Rutherford unanimous choice to win honor @NHLdotcom

The 2016 NHL Awards will take place at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on June 22, and staffers will be providing their selections for the winners.

The finalists for the General Manager of the Year award for the 2015-16 season are Brian MacLellan of the Washington Capitals, Jim Nill of the Dallas Stars and Jim Rutherford of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Here are's staff picks for the General Manager of the Year Award: 

Amalie Benjamin, Staff Writer

Jim Rutherford: With a couple of deft moves during the season and before it, Rutherford built a team that went on to win the Stanley Cup. Those moves included trades for forwards Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel, as well as adding coach Mike Sullivan to the mix during the season.

Brian Compton, Deputy Managing Editor

Jim Rutherford: Rutherford knew the Penguins needed a drastic change, and he wasn't afraid to shake things up in December when he replaced coach Mike Johnston with Mike Sullivan. Rutherford's in-season acquisitions of Hagelin and defenseman Trevor Daley also proved to be invaluable for the Penguins' march to the Stanley Cup.

Video: PIT@SJS, Gm6: Rutherford on additions for Cup title

Nicholas J. Cotsonika, Columnist

Jim Rutherford: He replaced Johnston with Sullivan and added Daley and Hagelin to play to the Penguins' strengths of speed and skill. They turned things around and won 14 of 16 games to close the regular season before winning the Stanley Cup.

Tom Gulitti, Staff Writer

Jim Rutherford: In the past year, Rutherford remade the Penguins, transforming them into the fastest team in the League and Stanley Cup champions. He rebuilt the supporting cast around Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang with trades for Kessel, Hagelin, Daley and Nick Bonino. Rutherford also signedveteran role players Matt Cullen and Eric Fehr, and found the right coach in Sullivan after firing Johnston on Dec. 12.

Adam Kimelman, Deputy Managing Editor

Jim Rutherford: Rutherford made the call to hire Sullivan in December and then found players that fit his coach's style, especially Hagelin and defenseman Justin Schultz. Those trades followed earlier key acquisitions of Kessel and Bonino, both of whom played major roles in the Stanley Cup victory. He also put his faith in young players like Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary and Tom Kuhnhackl, and allowed Sullivan to keep rookie Matt Murray in goal even when veteran Marc-Andre Fleury was healthy.

Mike G. Morreale, Staff Writer

Jim Rutherford: All the offseason acquisitions aside, the biggest move made by Rutherford during the regular season was when he hired Mike Sullivan to replace Mike Johnston on Dec. 12. The Penguins went 33-16-5 in last 54 games of the regular season under Sullivan to finish second in the Eastern Conference.

Shawn P. Roarke, Director Editorial

Jim Rutherford: Despite some heavy criticism within Rutherford's own market, he plowed ahead and remade the Penguins on the fly during the past season. Many of his moves paid huge dividends in the spring, specifically the acquisitions of Kessel, during the summer, and Hagelin, during the season. The decision to name Mike Sullivan as coach on Dec. 12 was likely the turning point of the season.

Dan Rosen, Senior Writer

Jim Rutherford: He made the Penguins into a fast team and deep team. It started last summer, when he acquired Kessel, Bonino, Fehr and Cullen. Pittsburgh started poorly, so he fired Mike Johnston and replaced him with Mike Sullivan. Rutherford brought in Hagelin and Daley, brought up a number of fast players from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre of the American Hockey League, and trusted Sullivan to put it together. They went from out of the playoffs in December to Stanley Cup champions in June. 

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