Western Conference GMs revealed: Who trades with whom?

Josh Elliott
Dec 6, 2014

Greg Sherman, Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy (Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News


Western Conference GMs revealed: Who trades with whom?

Josh Elliott
Dec 6, 2014

Managing an NHL team is more complicated than running your fantasy hockey league. General managers are in the people business, and personal relationships can influence the trade market. Based on trade history, here's who each Western Conference GM likes to deal with most.

Fantasy hockey makes it easy to lose sight of the fact that the real NHL is a people business, and personal relationships can influence how a team’s GM shapes his roster. Some guys have favourite trade partners, others hate trading within their conference and a few guys simply don’t like each other.

So who are the big traders in the NHL, and who do they trade with most?

This list seeks to answer that question by crunching the numbers on every current general manager in the league to see who trades with whom, and how often they do it.

Whether it’s dealing a superstar for a boatload of prospects or swapping AHL fourth-liners, it takes a level of cooperation and trust to get an NHL trade done. Sure, a blockbuster deal takes more cooperation than an AHL swap, but don’t underestimate the little deals. That’s where guys do favours for each other, and that’s where you can spot how comfortable GMs are with each other.

This list only addresses executives who hold the current title of general manager in the NHL, even though it’s become a nebulous title in some cities where team presidents and VPs of hockey ops do more of the real player personnel work. It’s also easy to get lost down the rabbit hole chasing every front office connection and former GM, so we’ll draw the line at current GMs and leave it at that.

Today’s list will cover Western Conference general managers, but be sure to come back tomorrow to see a full breakdown of the Eastern Conference GMs.

Here’s how the general managers in the Western Conference like to operate.

Bob Murray, Anaheim Ducks (Since Nov. 12, 2008)

Previous GM for: Chicago Blackhawks (1997-99)

Previous player for: Chicago Blackhawks

Average trades per season: 13

Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray is one of the most active traders in the league, with 119 transactions in about eight seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and Ducks. He’s also been around a while, and while he’s not in the Lou Lamoriello-David Poile-Glen Sather ‘lifer’ category, he’s been managing teams since the 1990s.

It’s no surprise, then, that Lou Lamoriello and the New Jersey Devils are his top trading partner. He’s made five deals with ‘Sweet Lou,’ three of which came during his Chicago days.

Murray's second-most common trade partners are also in that ‘lifer’ category, for the most part. He’s made four deals each with former long-time Carolina GM Jim Rutherford, Edmonton-turned-New York Ranger GM Glen Sather and Tampa Bay Lighting manager Steve Yzerman.

The first two are no surprise given their length of time in the league, but four deals with Yzerman is curious. Yzerman became a GM in May of 2010, yet he’s already one Bob Murray’s top trading partners. Four deals in four years points to a certain comfort level between Murray and Yzerman when it comes to doing business.

That said, their biggest deal was swapping Dan Ellis and Curtis McElhinney, so it’s not like these two have a history of blockbuster trades.

Don Maloney, Arizona Coyotes (Since May 29, 2007)

Previous GM for: New York Islanders (1992-95)

Previous player for: Hartford Whalers, New York Rangers, New York Islanders

Average trades per season: 10-11

Don Maloney has been in the game for a long time. Maloney took the reins of the New York Islanders in 1992, shortly after retiring the previous year. His squad made the playoffs twice and the conference final once, but he was eventually replaced by the now-infamous Mike Milbury.

Maloney then spent the better part of the next decade apprenticing under Glen Sather in Edmonton and then New York before snagging the top gig in Arizona, where he won the first ever GM of the year award in 2010.

Maloney’s 85 career trades have cememostly at the helm of the Coyotes, and it should come as no surprise that his primary trading partner is his old boss, Glen Sather. Maloney has made eight deals with Sather, seven of which happened between the Coyotes and the Rangers. Only one occurred while Maloney was in charge of the Islanders.

Most of the trades have been middling prospect or player swaps, although Maloney did deal Derek Morris to the Rangers in 2009 for three players. He and Sather also put together a complicated deal at the 2008 trade deadline that shipped Marcel Hossa and Al Montoya to Phoenix for Josh Gratton, David LeNeveu, Fredrik Sjostrom and a conditional pick.

The Murrays, Bob in Anaheim and Bryan in Ottawa, are Maloney’s next-most frequent trade partners. He’s done three deals with each one of them.

Brad Treliving, Calgary Flames (Since Apr. 28, 2014)

Previous GM for: Nobody

Previous player for: Nobody

Average trades per season: N/A

Brad Treliving is still the new face in Calgary, but he’s no raw rookie in the ways of managing a team. Treliving spent a decade as an assistant general manager under Don Maloney and Maloney's predecessor, Mike Barnett, in Phoenix. He also honed his eye for talent by running the Coyotes’ minor league affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage.

Treliving’s boss is Brian Burke, who is as well-travelled and well-connected as they come in the NHL. But Treliving sits in the GM’s chair right now, and the early returns show he probably won’t be challenging other GMs to a barn fight any time soon.

It's too early to judge Treliving's trade habits, but expect lots of activity if Burke has any say in the matter (and he does).

Stan Bowman, Chicago Blackhawks (Since July 14, 2009)

Previous GM for: Nobody

Previous player for: Nobody

Average trades per season: 8

Stan Bowman took over the Chicago Blackhawks’ top job in July of 2009 after an icky qualifying offer fiasco cost predecessor Dale Tallon his job. But the two men clearly remain on friendly terms, as they’ve partnered for six deals since Tallon took over the Florida Panthers operation in 2010.

Bowman’s championship-caliber roster has been bumping up against the salary cap for years, and Tallon has been his best trade partner to get that much-needed cap space. Bowman got Tallon to take the overpaid Brian Campbell and, more recently, the Hawks GM added Kris Versteeg in a trade that saw Tallon retain $2.2 million of Versteeg‘s annual salary.

That’s friendship.

Bowman’s next-best trading buddy has been the Islanders’ Garth Snow, with whom he’s consummated four separate deals, including the Nick Leddy salary dump. Snow also did Bowman a solid in 2011 by giving him the rights to Jonathan Toews’ younger brother, David Toews, for future considerations.

Bowman has made at least one deal with every current general manager except for rookies Ron Francis (Carolina) and Ron Hextall (Philadelphia). He’s clearly connected around the league, both through his own work and through his dad, the legendary Scotty Bowman.

Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy, Colorado Avalanche (Since Sept. 19, 2014 and May 23, 2013)

Previous GM for: Nobody

Previous player for: Colorado Avalanche (both), Montreal Canadiens (Roy), Quebec Nordiques (Sakic)

Average trades per season: 5

I’ve lumped Avs GM Joe Sakic and super-coach Patrick Roy together because Sakic hasn’t made any deals yet, and Roy has a good measure of control over team trades. He’s also the only one of the two to actually make any transactions.

The two-headed management monster in Colorado worked last year, but it hasn’t produced a whole lot of roster movement. Roy made two deals with Calgary, but one was with Jay Feaster and the other with Brian Burke. Feaster is now gone and Burke has put Brad Treliving in charge of the team, so those two trades don’t tell us a whole lot.

Roy also made deals with Doug Wilson in San Jose, Marc Bergevin in Montreal and then-Flyers GM Paul Holmgren in Philadelphia last year.

Jim Nill, Dallas Stars (Since Apr. 29, 2013)

Previous GM for: Nobody

Previous player for: Detroit Red Wings, Winnipeg Jets, Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues

Average trades per season: 9

Jim Nill hit the ground running in his first year as an NHL GM, signing big names and making big trades to reshape his roster with strong talent up the middle. Eight of his nine deals so far have involved established NHL players, and he’s managed to swing two big-time, multi-player deals to land key pivots in Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza.

The Spezza deal was one of two he’s made with Ottawa GM Bryan Murray, but the rest of his trades have been one-offs so far.

In terms of relationships, Nill spent a long, long time in Detroit as an assistant GM to Ken Holland. He’s been a trendy candidate for many GM jobs over the years, but it wasn’t until Dallas came calling that he finally chose to leave Hockeytown and run his own operation.

Nill and Holland haven’t made a deal yet, but you can bet they keep in touch.

Craig MacTavish, Edmonton Oilers (Since Apr. 15, 2013)

Previous GM for: Nobody

Previous player for: Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues

Average trades per season: 14

Craig MacTavish is trying to overhaul a roster mired in failure, and that means a lot of tinkering.

He’s made 16 deals in the one season and two off-seasons since he was hired, and you can bet many GMs are making him more offers to “help” him kick-start his dreadful squad this season. He’s kept the vultures away so far and has made only one minor deal in-season.

MacTavish has traded with 13 different GMs who are still employed in the league, so he’s had no problem finding trade partners. His problem is those swaps haven’t significantly changed his team’s fortunes.

Dean Lombardi, Los Angeles Kings (Since Apr. 21, 2006)

Previous GM for: San Jose Sharks (1996-2003)

Previous Player for: Nobody

Average trades per season: 8

Two-time Stanley Cup winner Dean Lombardi has worked in California for the better part of the last two decades, and he’s made lots of personal connections in the hockey world in that time.

The former San Jose Sharks and current Los Angeles Kings GM has made 127 trades in 15 seasons in the league, and if one trend emerges from a close look at those trades, it’s that he loves to deal with Glen Sather.

Sather and Lombardi have made seven swaps over the years, with Sather typically getting the better player and Lombardi getting the picks and prospects most of the time. Lombardi has shipped useful guys like Sean Avery, Dan Carcillo and Brian Boyle to New York, and gotten very few established NHLers in return.

It’s a three-way tie for second on the list of Lombardi’s preferred trade partners, made up of Lou Lamoriello (New Jersey), Jim Rutherford (now Pittsburgh) and Dave Nonis (two while he was in Vancouver, two in his current gig in Toronto).

Lombardi's hit a few home run trades in recent years, including the Marian Gaborik and Jeff Carter acquisitions from Columbus.

Chuck Fletcher, Minnesota Wild (Since May 22, 2009)

Previous GM for: Florida Panthers (2001-02)

Previous player for: Nobody

Average trades per season: 6

Chuck Fletcher spent time in a number of different organizations before landing in Minnesota in 2009. He’s been an assistant GM in Pittsburgh, Anaheim and Florida, and even had a brief stint as interim general manager of the Panthers in the early 2000s.

But Fletcher has been rubbing elbows with GM-types since he was young. Heck, his dad was 'Trader' Cliff Fletcher, former general manager of the Calgary Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning, Phoenix Coyotes and Toronto Maple Leafs (twice).

Chuck isn’t nearly the trader Cliff was, with only 37 transactions to his name in six seasons in the league. But Chuck Fletcher has done a lot to remake the once defence-at-all-costs Wild into a more dynamic puck possession team, and much of that work has been through shrewd trades.

Fletcher has partnered with San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson to execute five trades, including the deal that sent Brent Burns and a pick to the Sharks for Charlie Coyle, Devin Setoguchi and a first-round pick. That win-win deal is the kind of transaction both sides can be happy with.

Rounding out Fletcher’s top three trade partners is Glen Sather (four trades) and Peter Chiarelli (three trades).

David Poile, Nashville Predators (Since Dec. 11, 1997)

Previous GM for: Washington Capitals (1982-1997)

Previous player for: Nobody

Average trades per season: 9

David Poile is second only to Glen Sather in terms of NHL longevity, with GM credentials that stretch all the way back to his 1982 start with the Washington Capitals. He’s seen NHL dynasties rise and fall and had dealings with many, many NHL GMs over his 32 years in the league.

Given the longevity of Poile’s career, it should come as no surprise that his most frequent trade partners are the guys who’ve been in the game for similar lengths of time. He’s made eight swaps with Bryan Murray and seven trades with Jim Rutherford, but his far-and-away favourite GM to trade with is Glen Sather.

Poile and Sather have made a whopping 16 deals over the years. Twelve of those deals were between the Predators and Rangers, while two were Nashville-Edmonton deals and two were Washington-Edmonton transactions.

But Poile doesn’t isolate himself to dealing with Sather. He’s made trades with 13 of the NHL’s current GMs, which is pretty decent considering a good number of them were hired within the last two years.

Doug Wilson, San Jose Sharks (Since May 13, 2003)

Previous GM for: Nobody

Previous player for: Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks

Average trades per season: 9-10

The San Jose Sharks have been to the playoffs every year since Doug Wilson took over in 2003, and he’s been an active presence in the trade market throughout that run. Wilson tweaks his roster a fair amount, with an average of between 9 and 10 trades per season.

Wilson's trading history shows he's typically very active at the trade deadline as he attempts to load up for his playoffs runs. He's also not shy to shake up his roster or make big trades for high-end talent like Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle and Brian Campbell.

He's made deals with 19 of the current 29 other general managers, so he clearly talks to a lot of people around the league.

Wilson has made eight (mostly minor) deals with Glen Sather in New York, five deals with Chuck Fletcher in Minnesota and four trades with Jim Rutherford while Rutherford was running Carolina.

Doug Armstrong, St. Louis Blues (Since July 1, 2010)

Previous GM for: Dallas Stars (2002-07)

Previous player for: Nobody

Average trades per season: 7

Doug Armstrong’s general manager title was hard-earned and awkwardly maintained in St. Louis, where he had to wait for Larry Pleau to retire and John Davidson to leave before he could become the undisputed top dog on the hockey management side.

Armstrong started his management career in the Dallas Stars front office, where he won a Stanley Cup in 1999 as the assistant GM and succeeded Bob Gainey as general manager in 2002. He was fired by the Stars in 2007 and joined St. Louis in 2008, when it was agreed that he would eventually take over from Larry Pleau in the summer of 2010.

Armstrong’s 59 career trades put him at a conservative seven swaps per season, and he doesn’t have any clear favourites to trade with. His leading two trade partners at three each are Lou Lamoriello in New Jersey and Glen Sather in New York.

Armstrong has been moving a lot of mid-round draft picks in recent years. Twelve of his 19 deals since joining the Blues have involved picks going one way or the other. He's also made some big deals, including the multi-player and multi-pick swapwith Colorado at the 2011 deadline that saw Erik Johnson and Kevin Shattenkirk switch jerseys.

Jim Benning, Vancouver Canucks (Since May 21, 2014)

Previous GM for: Nobody

Previous player for: Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks

Average trades per season: N/A

Jim Benning hasn’t had the GM’s chair long in Vancouver, but he’s already made his mark by rescuing the Canucks from the disaster that was last season. He landed a good return when he dealt Ryan Kesler to Anaheim, and Linden Vey has been well worth the second-rounder it cost to acquire him from Los Angeles. He also managed to dump Jason Garrison’s contract, and picked up a second-round pick in the process.

Benning is already working like a veteran GM, and it should come as no surprise. He spent 11 years as scout in Anaheim and then in Buffalo, before taking an assistant general manager gig under new Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli in 2006.

Benning was part of the Bruins’ rebuild and Stanley Cup win, so Vancouver fans should feel confident their team is in good hands with this rookie GM.

Kevin Cheveldayoff, Winnipeg Jets (Since June 8, 2011)

Previous GM for: Nobody

Previous player for: Nobody

Average trades per season: 5

Kevin Cheveldayoff makes fewer trades per season than any other general manager in the league, aside from Ken Holland. His 16 deals have had almost no impact on the day-to-day roster of his team, and he has yet to make a big-name acquisition.

Cheveldayoff came to Winnipeg from the Chicago management team, where he worked at various times with Marc Bergevin, Stan Bowman and Dale Tallon. He’s made deals with all three men, but none of those trades has amounted to a shakeup of the Jets’ fortunes.

He simply hasn’t made enough trades to get a read on his tendencies, other than a tendency not to trade.

All trade records come from NHL Trade Tracker and the NHL.

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Western Conference GMs revealed: Who trades with whom?