The Penguins Ray Shero was named one of the finalists for the NHL General Manager of the Year Award. This is the first time in his career Shero has been nominated.
The GM of the Year Award is presented annually to recognize the work of the league’s 30 general managers. Among those who vote for the winner are each of the 30 club general managers and a panel that includes NHL executives and members of both the print and broadcast media.
Montreal’s Marc Bergevin and Anaheim’s Bob Murray are the other finalists. All NHL awards will be announced sometime during the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.
Shero, 50, constructed arguably the best regular-season team of his seven-year tenure in 2012-13, as the Penguins won their second Atlantic Division title under his watch and finished as the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time while posting a 36-12 overall record.
Pittsburgh finished with the second-best regular-season record in the NHL behind only the Chicago Blackhawks due in large part to the moves Shero made leading up to the NHL trading deadline and during last summer’s offseason.
With his team already firmly secured at the top of the Atlantic Division in late March, Shero made four significant trades that added a pair of former captains (Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow); a perennial 50-point scorer (Jussi Jokinen); and a rugged blueliner (Douglas Murray) with sacrificing a single player off his roster.
Shero also brought back a familiar face at midseason – signing free agent defenseman Mark Eaton, who had previously won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009. With Eaton in the lineup the Penguins were 20-3 during the final two months of the season.
Shero’s first offseason acquisition last summer – acquiring and then extending the contract of goaltender Tomas Vokoun – paid huge dividends in Pittsburgh’s 4-2 series victory over the NY Islanders in the opening round when Vokoun came in to win the final two games of the series by stopping 66 of the 69 shots he faced.
Lost in the background of Shero’s bold midseason moves were Pittsburgh’s other two offseason additions – center Brandon Sutter (acquired from Carolina in the Jordan Staal trade) and winger Tanner Glass (unrestricted free agent). Both players scored goals in Round 1 against the Islanders.
During the first round against the Islanders, seven of Pittsburgh’s 25 goals were scored by players who weren’t on the team last spring – including rookie Beau Bennett, who along with defenseman Simon Despres is one of two first-round picks made by Shero on the current squad.
Shero’s hands are all over the Penguins’ postseason roster, as 21 of the 28 players have either been drafted, traded for or signed by Shero and his top assistants, Jason Botterill and Tom Fitzgerald.