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Seven GMs who figure to keep life interesting

by Dan Rosen /
The transactions column should continue to be littered with NHL news until training camp begins in September, so the League shouldn't worry about losing momentum from what has already been an interesting, challenging and controversial offseason.

But there are certain teams and general managers that should keep us all, including the players, on their toes beyond the offseason. has identified seven of the League's GMs that should be exciting to follow for the next several months because they're still trying to make their marks on their teams and cities:

Rick Dudley, Atlanta

The new man in control of the Thrashers' roster decisions began the overhaul by pilfering several key pieces off the Chicago Blackhawks' championship roster. Dudley traded for Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager, Andrew Ladd and Brent Sopel in late June. He also signed former Blues goalie Chris Mason earlier this month.

The Thrashers have made the playoffs just once in their 11-year history, and they didn't win a game in that series against the New York Rangers in 2007 after capturing their only Southeast Division title. Dudley is trying to change the culture in Atlanta, and he's still got work to do.

Atlanta remains one of the League's youngest teams with Byfuglien, Ladd, Niclas Bergfors, Bryan Little, Zach Bogosian, Tobias Enstrom and Ondrej Pavelec all 25 or younger. Those seven make up a big part of the Thrashers' new core, which also includes Rich Peverley, Ron Hainsey and Johnny Oduya, three veterans who haven't celebrated their 30th birthdays yet.

We're wondering what Dudley's next move will be, and when?

Peter Chiarelli, Boston

The Bruins are still feeling the sting of their historic collapse against the Flyers, and Chiarelli has spent this summer trying to eradicate the stench. He has traded for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell and selected junior star Tyler Seguin with the No. 2 pick in the Entry Draft last month.

The Bruins have a logjam at center, though that is a position where depth is required to win. Still, there have been several rumors that Marc Savard could be on his way out of Boston, with some reports stating he's already agreed to waive his no-trade clause to go to select teams.

If rookie sensation Tuukka Rask retains his position as the Bruins' No. 1 goalie, Chiarelli will probably try to find a new home for Tim Thomas and his big contract. Thomas would be a backup making $5 million -- not exactly the best way to spend your money.

Whether it's before the season starts or afterward, we're curious to see what Chiarelli has in store as the Bruins try to erase the memory of those four straight losses to Philadelphia.

Dale Tallon, Florida

The former boss in Chicago, the architect of the Hawks' Stanley Cup roster, is trying to tackle a new challenge in Florida that doesn't seem all that different than the one he dealt with in Chicago.

The Panthers haven't made the playoffs since 2000, and the team has struggled to make a dent in the South Florida market -- but like anywhere else, a winning season can change all that and reinvigorate interest in the Panthers and the NHL.

Tallon's challenge is to bring a winner to the region, and mostly he prefers to do that by drafting well and developing from within. That means no one on the roster, save perhaps for forward David Booth, is safe.

Tallon could be wheeling and dealing quite often between now and the trade deadline, so we're looking out.

Dean Lombardi, Los Angeles

With a young, talented roster already in place and cap space to burn, the Kings' boss isn't likely to sit tight and wait. The time to strike is now.

He has tried to do that this summer, but still couldn't land the top defenseman (Paul Martin) or the big-time forward (Ilya Kovalchuk) he wanted.

Nevertheless, Lombardi is a veteran in this business, and he knows his team is close to being a Cup contender -- especially in a Western Conference that is probably more wide open than ever before with the thinning of the Blackhawks and key departures in San Jose.

The Kings already shown that they won't break the bank to get a star (Kovalchuk) under contract for fear that doing so could compromise the deals they want to eventually give to young stars like Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson. However, that doesn't mean Lombardi won't be eager and determined, adjectives that every hockey fan loves to hear about a general manager.

Steve Yzerman, Tampa Bay

He was the most talked about GM this past winter -- and he even wasn't running his own NHL team. Team Canada was Yzerman's baby and he had the golden touch, which leads you to wonder if he can do the same with the Lightning.

So far, Yzerman has made some pretty big headlines by re-signing Martin St. Louis to a much-needed and well-deserved contract extension, bringing in the highly sought-after Guy Boucher as coach, trading for Simon Gagne and signing goalie Dan Ellis and defensemen Pavel Kubina and Brett Clark.

He's been busy, but now it'll be interesting to watch how Yzerman handles the Lightning going forward. Will he be patient or will he be aggressive? A lot likely depends on how the Lightning handle the early months of the season, but they are again a team to watch because of the Hall of Famer making the decisions.

Brian Burke, Toronto

When Burke stops making headlines is when we all should worry. He's easily the most quotable and quoted GM in the League, and as he continues to build the Maple Leafs the way he wants, the way he figures is best, expect more bold moves from Burke and more interesting quotes.

He has tried to bolster the Leafs' forward depth by trading for Kris Versteeg and signing Colby Armstrong. Rumors are constantly swirling that defenseman Tomas Kaberle could be traded soon. Dion Phaneuf, acquired in February, has been named captain.

Burke doesn't stop beating the pavement to build this team -- and now in Year 3 of his regime, it seems like the right time for the Leafs to make the jump into playoff contender. The hockey world is waiting.

George McPhee, Washington

McPhee has been quiet this summer; his only significant moves have been re-signing his own players, including Eric Fehr, Jeff Schultz and Boyd Gordon. The plan wasn't to make any big moves this summer, but you have to wonder how long into the season that will last.

The Capitals were clearly a flawed team last season, even though they won the Presidents' Trophy. They lacked a defensive stopper who could shut down Michael Cammalleri in their first-round loss to Montreal, when they blew a 3-1 series lead. Alexander Semin, who has enough talent to be one of the League's best players, was basically invisible for the entire series. Tomas Fleischmann, a 23-goal scorer, was scratched. Norris Trophy candidate Mike Green had a second straight forgettable postseason.

Making life just a little bit tougher for the Caps is the increased talent throughout the Southeast Division. They're still the heavy favorites, but winning the division for the fourth season in a row might not be as easy as it was in 2009-10.

McPhee has the pulse of this club -- and even though no one is saying it, he has to be thinking that he could pay a big price if the Caps experience another playoff disaster. Expect him to go to work on this roster in preparation for the big show in the spring.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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