Since Steve Yzerman retired, he has made a name for himself as a General Manager, is known as one of, if not, the best GM in the NHL. But does he deserve that title?
Steve Yzerman was an outstanding player. Now Yzerman’s making a name for himself as a general manager. He made the Tampa Bay Lightning one of the most star-powered teams in the entirety of the NHL after a few years of struggling. He made some crazy trades throughout the years and he has been extremely successful through the draft, more specifically in the later rounds.
But I feel as though he is only good at building teams from the ground up. I feel like Yzerman is a one-dimensional GM that makes mistakes the minute his team becomes consistent contenders. Before we get into that, let’s look at his successful moves first.
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His first great trade came on February 21st, 2012. That was when he traded defenseman Kyle Quincey to the Detroit Red Wings for Sebastien Piche and a 2012 first-round pick. The 2012 first-round pick was spent on Andrei Vasilevskiy, who wound up becoming a Vezina Trophy winner and a yearly finalist for that trophy. An excellent trade that went a very long way towards building an excellent future.
Bishop wound up becoming one of the best goaltenders in franchise history, leading the Lightning to a Stanley Cup appearance and two trips to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Yzerman flipped Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, as Vasilevskiy was ready to take over the starting job. In return, the Lightning got Peter Budaj, Erik Cernak, and two late-round picks. Cernak has become a mainstay on the Lightning’s blueline, creating a formidable duo with Ryan McDonagh. Budaj filled in behind Vasilevskiy effectively enough to get by but shortly left the organization.
Another great trade took place on June 15, 2017, with the Montreal Canadiens. The Lightning dealt Jonathan Drouin in exchange for Mikhail Sergachev. Since this deal, Drouin has struggled for a role in Montreal and his superstar potential has not been realized. Meanwhile, Sergachev has wound up becoming one of the better young defensemen in the league and a huge piece of the Lightning’s blueline.
On July 1st, 2017, Yzerman dealt AHL goalie Kristers Gudlevskis for Carter Verhaeghe from the New York Islanders. Gudlevskis has yet to claim an NHL roster spot, while Verhaeghe has earned a role on the Lightning bottom-six forward group, providing a spark for the team.
Finally, Yzerman made a mega-deal at the 2018 trade deadline with the New York Rangers. In that deal, he traded Vladislav Namestnikov, top prospects Libor Hajek and Brett Howden, along with multiple draft picks, in exchange for Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller.
Hajek and Howden have yet to make much of an impact with the Rangers. Meanwhile, Namestnikov struggled and eventually parted with the team. McDonagh is arguably the Lightning’s best defensive defenseman, forming a strong pairing with Cernak.
Miller, on the other hand, was constantly moving up and down the lineup, but still playing very well in a strange role. He eventually got traded to the Vancouver Canucks at the 2019 NHL draft.