Carolina’s Don Waddell was the big winner in the latest first round matchup of the GM Bracket Battle, earning a well-deserved victory over Chicago’s Stan Bowman. Today, we have a contest between two relative newcomers to the General Manager ranks:
4 – Tampa Bay Lightning: Julien BriseBois
Steve Yzerman gets most of the credit for building Tampa Bay’s dominant squad, but it’s important to remember that Julien BriseBois has been there at every step of the way, even before taking over as General Manager. His fingerprints are all over this current Lightning team; he was responsible for managing the American Hockey League franchises that developed players like Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn, and more. Since taking over in Tampa, he has gone about making smart player acquisitions – albeit at a high price point – that are currently paying off in the form of postseason success.
Simply put, there’s a reason that BriseBois was consistently mentioned as a potential hire for other teams when vacancies popped up; Tampa Bay is lucky that things worked out such that he could stick around at the helm.
29 – Los Angeles Kings: Rob Blake
The task facing Rob Blake in Los Angeles is a tough one. The price of previous Stanley Cup playoff success is expensive contracts for aging stars, which is exactly what the Kings are dealing with right now. The reality is that Drew Doughty and Dustin Brown, as examples, aren’t the same players they once were.
On the flip side, the positive news for Kings fans is that Blake and his staff have done a wonderful job of building one of the stronger prospect crops in hockey, and have another bevy of draft capital that will only serve to add to it over the next couple years. It remains to be seen as to whether Blake will be able to rejuvenate the Kings and turn them back into a contender, but the early returns on his leadership are positive. Much as Pierre Dorion is doing in Ottawa, Blake seems to be taking his rebuild in the right direction.