NHL GM of Year to be announced during Game 5 of Semifinals on Tuesday

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Winners of the 2021 NHL Awards presented by Bridgestone will be announced throughout the Stanley Cup Semifinals and Stanley Cup Final.

The winner of the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award. will be revealed Tuesday during Game 5 of the Semifinals between the Montreal Canadiens and Vegas Golden Knights. The game starts at 8 p.m. ET.

Here is a look at the three finalists:

Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens, Lou Lamoriello of the New York Islanders and Bill Zito of the Florida Panthers are the finalists for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award.

The award is presented annually to the general manager who best excelled at his role during the regular season. It is voted on by the League’s general managers and a panel of NHL executives and print and broadcast media after the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Bergevin, in his ninth season with the Canadiens, has Montreal in the Stanley Cup Semifinals after finishing fourth in the Scotia North Division (24-21-11).

“This nomination makes me very proud, especially since it was voted by my peers,” Bergevin said. “I want to recognize the remarkable work of all the members of the organization, coaches and players, who dealt with an extremely difficult schedule with such professionalism and who have made personal sacrifices to ensure the success of the club. This recognition is theirs as well. I’d also like to congratulate Lou and Bill for their nomination.”

Several of the impact players during their playoff run were added during a busy offseason, including signing unrestricted free agent forwards Tyler Toffoli and Corey Perry, and trades that brought in forward Josh Anderson (Columbus Blue Jackets), defenseman Joel Edmundson (Carolina Hurricanes) and goalie Jake Allen (St. Louis Blues).

Dominique Ducharme replaced Claude Julien as coach Feb. 24, and the offense got more dynamic when forward Cole Caufield, the No. 15 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft, agreed to terms on a three-year, entry-level contract March 27, and scored two game-winning goals in 10 regular-season games. The Canadiens also acquired center Eric Staal (Buffalo Sabres) and defensemen Jon Merrill (Detroit Red Wings) and Erik Gustafsson (Philadelphia Flyers) ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline on April 12.

It’s the third time Bergevin is a finalist for the award; he was third in 2012-13 and second in 2013-14.

Lamoriello, in his third season with the Islanders, helped the New York reach the third round of the playoffs for the second straight season.

During the offseason the Islanders re-signed defenseman Andy Greene, which allowed New York to bring back every key skater from the team that lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2020 Eastern Conference Final, and added rookie Ilya Sorokin as the backup goalie to Semyon Varlamov. After captain and top-line forward Anders Lee sustained a season-ending knee injury March 11, the Islanders acquired forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac in a trade with the New Jersey Devils on April 7; Palmieri is tied for the Islanders postseason lead with seven goals.

Lamoriello won the award last season, and would be the first GM to win it twice.

“I think you look for his track record it speaks for itself,” Islanders forward Travis Zajac said. “I think when you look at Lou he’s always one step ahead of everything else that’s going on. So credit to him. I think he’s got a lot of belief in how he does things and it trickles down to the staff and to the players.”

Zito was hired Sept. 2, and in his first season the Panthers had their best-ever points percentage (.705) and finished second in the Discover Central Division (37-14-5).

“Bill coming on board, he did a great job of bringing in different staff and adding some really nice pieces to our team,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville told NHL Network. “Significant contributions … he brought a lot of the personality in.”

The Panthers signed unrestricted free agent forwards Carter Verhaeghe, Alex Wennberg and Anthony Duclair, and defenseman Radko Gudas, and acquired forward Patric Hornqvist (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Markus Nutivaara (Columbus Blue Jackets) in trades during the offseason. Forward Sam Bennett was acquired in a trade with the Calgary Flames on April 12 and scored 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 10 games. Defenseman Brandon Montour came over in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres on April 10 to help ease the loss of top defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who sustained a season-ending broken leg March 28.

Florida also agreed to terms on a three-year, entry-level contract with goalie Spencer Knight, the No. 13 pick of the 2019 draft. Knight made his NHL debut April 20, and started Games 5 and 6 of the Stanley Cup First Round against the Lightning. He made 36 saves in his postseason debut, a 4-1 win.

Zito is the second Panthers GM to be a finalist for the award; Dale Tallon finished second in 2011-12.

The NHL General Manager of the year Award, which was first presented in 2009-10, was renamed in 2019-20 in honor of Jim Gregory, the 2007 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee who served as Toronto Maple Leafs GM and a League executive for four decades before his death Oct. 30, 2019.

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