Poile named a GM of the Year finalist for the third straight year…

BANNER - Media Availability Day - Poile (6-21-11)

The award has a three year history.

Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile is 3-for-3.

While he has yet to win the General Manager of the Year Award, Poile has been a finalist in all three years, a resume no other GM can boast. Dan Maloney of the Phoenix Coyotes won the inaugural award in 2010 and then, in a complete surprise to most, Mike Gillis of the Vancouver Canucks took home the honor last year.

The 2011-12 NHL calendar didn’t start off too red hot for Poile. In June, the Predators were accused of not filing the correct paperwork for seven restricted free agents. Before a hearing could be had, Nashville forwards Nick Spaling, Cal O’Reilly, Matt Halischuk and Sergei Kostitsyn all re-signed along with Milwaukee Admirals center Chris Mueller, Andreas Thuresson was traded to the New York Rangers and Linus Klasen went back home to play in Europe. So while the four key guys were eventually signed, the gaffe cost Poile unnecessarily against the salary cap.

If a paperwork error wasn’t enough, in July, team captain Shea Weber actually headed to an arbitration hearing . It was a move thought completely unlikely headed into free agency. So much so, the Predators filed for arbitration merely as a formality back in June. Then if that  wasn’t enough, in August, it came out that the Predators had offered their captain an embarrassingly low $4.75 million per year. If you had any understanding of how negotiations work, you knew the team didn’t really believe Weber was worth only $4.75 million. So while the casual fan base freaked out about that, the arbitrator awarded the Sicamous, British Columbia native $7.5 million for the 2011-12 season, nearly double the highest paid Preds player.

Since August, however, things have gone fairly well for the GM of the Year finalist. He put together a roster of home-grown leaders, leaned heavily on his draft picks for depth scoring and even locked up their franchise goaltender for seven more years. Furthermore, his hockey club didn’t have a losing record in any one month, he was aggressive around the NHL trade deadline, bringing in Andrei Kostitsyn for depth scoring and getting two of the most coveted pieces available in Hal Gill (defense) and Paul Gaustad (forward) and, the icing on the cake, he finally brought wayward Russian Alexander Radulov home.

The ironic thing is, it’s the icing that may keep him from winning the cake. Several General Managers (mainly in the Western Conference, naturally) were none too happy that Radulov was allowed to rejoin the Predators after his KHL season concluded. Since this particular award is voted on by the GM’s themselves (along with 10 others), it’s conceivable that the animosity among those who felt wronged would not vote for Poile.

Another reason he may not win is because of the competition. St. Louis’ Doug Armstrong and Florida’s Dale Tallon are also up for the award and, quite frankly, both could take the trophy home. Armstrong pulled the plug — most thought pre-maturely — on Davis Payne‘s stint behind the bench in favor of Ken Hitchcock in November. All the Blues have done since the switch is go 42-14-10, come within three points of winning the President’s Trophy for the league’s best regular season record, and beat the San Jose Sharks in five games to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2002.

Tallon, on the other hand, seems to have built a winner in just two short seasons in Miami. He was the architect behind most of the Chicago Blackhawks roster that won the 2010 Stanley Cup despite already being in Sunrise, Florida. This past summer, while Poile was busy with the RFA fiasco and the Weber situation, Tallon kept busy, signing Tomas FleischmannSean BergenheimMatt BradleyEd Jovanovski, goaltender Jose TheodoreKris VersteegTomas KopeckyBrian Campbell and former Preds forwards Marcel Goc and Scottie Upshall. At the time, it appeared almost as if they were just signing guys to get to the salary floor. They proved that was not the case, however, as they won the Southeast Division, made the postseason for the first time since 2000, won their first playoff game since 1997 and are now just a single game away from knocking off the New Jersey Devils in the first round.

Will Poile finally take home General Manager of the Year honors? The NHL Awards take place on June 20.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy K. Gover // section303.com