Grade your GM

Discussion in 'Dallas Stars' started by gentleman scholar, Feb 24, 2020.

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What grade would you give Nill?

Poll closed Mar 2, 2020.
  1. A+

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. A

    5.1%
  3. A-

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. B+

    10.3%
  5. B

    41.0%
  6. B-

    15.4%
  7. C+

    12.8%
  8. C

    5.1%
  9. C-

    5.1%
  10. D+

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  11. D

    2.6%
  12. D-

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  13. F

    2.6%
  1. Abilify Wanted Dead and Alive

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    Nah. You don't let half your blueline walk after finishing first in a conference. You don't run it back with the Niemi/Lehtonen cluster****. You don't draft Tufte.

    *The hindsight comment was the Benn extension (will fully admit I was on board with it at the time however)
     
  2. serp Registered User

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    They got bad contracts and weren't even that great to begin with . That Stars team was not solid enough to re-sign their mediocre defenseman to big longterm contracts .

    Niemi/Lehtonen sucked but i don't see how that was fixable that offseason. The mistake in the 2015 offseason . Thinking Niemi was any kind of solution was wrong.

    Imho that 2015-16 season was very much a fluke. ( like i think the Flames season was last year ) That team overarchived in the regular season .

    Locking up the older part of that core would've bitten the team in the butt.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
  3. Satan Roman Polak Believer

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  4. Abilify Wanted Dead and Alive

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    Actually, maybe Nill was just playing 4-D chess...didn't want to build on a 50 win season...decided to tank the year for a draft pick and knew he was gonna win the Heiskanen lottery.

    Knowing what you know now, you honestly think 2016 was a good offseason for the Stars? What grade would you give Nill for 2016?

    Keep in mind his acquisitions were Hamhuis, Korpikoski, Cracknell and Hudler. Gave Benn $76 million and spent a first rounder on Tufte.
     
  5. serp Registered User

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    It weakened the team short term but knowing what i know now i'm happy they didn't invest anything long-term in guys who got terrible deals . That offseason pretty much only had bad deals for whoever signed someone.

    By the way those 3 guys only got signed after half the forward core randomly became injured in pre-season. Hell i remember Benn and Seguin coming back from that dumb World Cup of Hockey injured. The season was a f***ing nightmare with all the injuries the team had and we got rewarded for it by winning a top 3 pick . So i'm cool with it now.

    Hamhuis was the only real aquisition and he alright both seasons here. Sucks for him that he got here for those two seasons
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
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  6. LatvianTwist Global Moderator Sponsor

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    I agree on every count. The thing about being a better team is all relative though. Luck plays a larger role in the playoffs than most people care to admit, and we were literally an inch of luck away from the Conference Finals.

    Nill recognized that last year’s team could’ve gone all the way. So he went out and made this year’s team even better. He got lucky, too (e.g. Johns returning). But the team is better than they were a year ago. St. Louis is arguably better as well, but they also aren’t on a ridiculous tear now. If anything, we are. Since November, I feel comfortable saying we’ve played better hockey than any other team in the West.

    So who knows. We’re comfortably in a playoff spot and should feel content with our chances there. I don’t think there’s much more we can ask for right now.
     
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  7. LatvianTwist Global Moderator Sponsor

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    2016 was a fairly savvy offseason for the reasons you mentioned. Russell and Demers were hot garbage not too long after that. Goligoski is playing well but he prices himself out of Dallas. We had a bit of growing pains with Lindell but now he’s undoubtedly a major upgrade on Goligoski and that’s turned out very well.

    I think he recognized the overachievement and handled it as well as he could. I don’t think anyone expected the backswing to be as bad as it was, but the injuries didn’t help and Ruff had clearly worn out his welcome.
     
  8. Abilify Wanted Dead and Alive

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    Fair enough, just have a hard time giving him props for building a 34 win team and drafting a terrible hockey player.
     
  9. serp Registered User

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    I mean several of the guys who had major positive impact in the 2015-16 season either completely fell apart the next year and/or got super injured . Hemsky , Sharp , Oduya , Eakin , Roussel , Spezza , Janmark all missed a signficant amount of games . The season was not going to be as bad if that didn't happen but looking back thankfully it did because otherwise we don't end up with Heiskanen. Was that by design ? No that was pure luck .

    The wierdest part of the season is that somehow everybody on the team gets injured but Patrick Eaves who has an almost fully healthy season for the very first time in his career . ( in his 12th NHL season ) Which was great because gave us another first round pick.
     
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  10. Abilify Wanted Dead and Alive

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    Yeah definitely, Eaves was a revelation that year. I give Nill nothing but love for his work at the '17 deadline, draft and off-season. That's where Nill deserves praise.
     
  11. BigG44 Registered User

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    I think this is fair too. If you broke down a grade for Nill by season ... I think he deserves a high grade personally for 2019-20, and I think it has the potential to become even better. It's so hard to figure out a grade over 7 years because of some high highs and low lows. For this year though ... since getting eliminated in 2019 by the Blues, I think it's been mostly good.

    To be fair though, 3 to 4 weeks ago .... it's wasn't nearly as good as it is today. Pavelski, Perry, and Sekera took off at relatively the same time. Whether it was coming back from injuries (Sekera and Perry) or just acclimating to a new team (all of them) ... it took some time. Those 3 signings today though look completely different than just 1 month ago. Johns is an unexpected blessing. He surprised me by buying out Nichushkin, and I'm still happy he did. It was the right thing for the player and the organization.

    The only negative for me is mortgaging the 2020-21 cap this season with bonuses and not making a greater effort to improve Texas (AHL). However, that also changes as Sekera and Perry's play continues to improve. There's a reasonable chance depending on their play in the playoffs that it's not something that's a concern regardless of the cost.

    It's weird, but I legitimately think he could have performed quite well and still lose his job. It happens when your team and your owner have high expectations. I'm definitely not saying I want it to happen either. I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other because I do really want to see how the playoffs turn out. It is the nature of hockey though that good isn't always good enough.
     
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  12. LatvianTwist Global Moderator Sponsor

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    One thing about Nill too is I'm having a hard time coming up with another GM I'd 100% rather have. Let's assume every single GM was a possibility.

    Yzerman will get cited quickly, but so much of his work in Tampa revolved around getting ridiculously lucky with drafting, and with players willing to take massive discounts to stay there (the tax situation helped, I'm sure). His work in Detroit so far has been iffy, but it's also been very short. Brisebois taking over and seemingly doing just as well (perhaps better?) suggests that the environment helps a lot more than people are willing to give credit.

    And honestly no one else stands out. Maybe Rutherford, but Pittsburgh has one of the easiest cores to build a winner around. Rutherford also has several highly suspect moves.

    MacLellan has been pretty great in Washington as well, I'd say. Again, though, he inherited a phenomenal core.

    Sweeney is similar. He took a ton of heat early in his career (and he'll never live down the 2015 draft), but he's done an impressive job so far. Again, though, inherited a great core and has only needed to supply the depth.

    Who else? Sakic? Poile? Chevaldayoff? I don't know.

    I think Nill being in the top 3rd of GMs is reasonable. And unless you're sure you can make an upgrade or you have a true wizard waiting in the wings, I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable saying we can definitely find a better replacement.

    I'm sure others have different opinions, as GMs seem incredibly hard to evaluate given the huge number of factors there are.

    Are any of these guys available? No. And it's unlikely they'll become available in the next few months (projecting past this seems too difficult). It's either someone who's a clear downgrade (e.g. Chiarelli, god forbid) or someone who we've probably never heard of and know nothing about. Is that worth it?
     
  13. LatvianTwist Global Moderator Sponsor

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    Just for reference:

    Chevy got his job two years before Nill. Bergevin got his a year before. Kekalainen a couple months before. Treliving, Benning, MacLellan, Sakic, and Rutherford all got theirs a year afterward.

    Let's ignore MacLellan and Rutherford as they inherited two of the best cores in the entire NHL. First, let's look at some of their stats (I'll only count full seasons for those hired mid-season):

    Screen Shot 2020-02-25 at 01.28.54.png

    I won't comment too much on this - I think these numbers paint a clear picture of Nill being average at worst. Some of these teams have obviously been worse (Vancouver, for instance). Colorado is tough because they should've been much better than they were for some time, but they seem to be there now.

    One thing to note, as well: only two players who were on the roster in 2012-2013 are still there (Benn and Oleksiak, who I'm not totally sure should count). Faksa, Klingberg, and Lindell were the only prospects leftover who actually ended up doing anything and staying with the team.
     
  14. Johno Assembling a Nordic powerhouse

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    This is missing a few:
    Ray Whitney
    Lane MacDermid
    Philip Larsen
    Tom Wandell (RFA, not signed)

    But the point stands, Nill inherited quite a clown show of a roster. And has made quite a turnaround there.
     
  15. Johno Assembling a Nordic powerhouse

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    There's no clear upgrade, but there's a few reasonable candidates in case they do move on from Nill.

    Two main ones would, IMO, be Jere Lehtinen and the guy they are grooming within the organization: Mark Janko, supposedly a great numbers and analytics guy. Current role has him involved in the cap management as well as contract and trade discussions.
     
  16. ZeHockeyFan Registered User

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    Those failures did cost their GM his job, even if the firing did come on the heels of a playoff-less season. And McPhee was an excellent drafter of talent.
     
  17. BrettHullsToe '99*

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    Yeah, this is what I always come back to whenever I get annoyed at Nill, and why I give him a B- for now. All I have to do is read other teams' boards for comments on their GM, and it's pretty hard to come up with better candidates, which also means the odds of a brand new GM being better must be pretty low as well.
     
  18. eartotheground steam powered gmjn

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    to be fair, i think a lot of your comments are pretty spot on, but this one cracked me up.
    you finished 1st- why wouldn't you keep the d core?!
    you finished 1st - why would you keep your goalie tandem?!

    conflicting logic for keeping the defenders and dismissing the goalies.

    Anyway, i think my biggest criticisms of nill would be the late move with a goalie coach, and the poor drafting early on as you mentioned.

    in that regard, i do wonder what more they could invest into player development.. seems like that's a place teams could get a winning edge.
    i'd want my team heavily invested in things outside of the salary cap:
    • analytics
    • scouting
    • sports psychology
    • player development
    • sports technology
    of course, that assumes i'm not an owner trying to turn a profit, and oh, by the way, if it's not too much trouble, win here and there.
     
  19. eartotheground steam powered gmjn

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    numbers and analytics? maybe that dubas guy could be available soon, and his teams sure can score goals!
     
  20. Bfantz Registered User

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    I give him a b+ . Yea he had some bad drafts but you have to remeber nill isn’t an amateur scout . He has people in place to make those decisions and they’ve been improving the last few years . When it comes to negotiating with ufa’s , rfa’s , trades etc. he’s one of the best in the league IMO and is very well respected around the league . The fact that he’s still looking out for the future of the team when he’s in a fairly desperate part of his career says a lot about him .
     
  21. FirstRowUpperDeck Registered User

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    I like this approach, as well as the unanswerable "who would be clearly better," or "who would I like bette I suspect most fans judge the team/GM/players against some mythical, doesn't exist GM, rather than compare them to actual GM's and what has actually happened, which is they all make mistakes at some point. It basically takes some repeated lotto ball luck to build a dynasty, and I'll bet there are some Pens and Hawks fans out there blasting their teams for "only" winning three SC, LOL.

    Taken together, I think most of the decisions, even those that went wrong, are pretty justifiable it you look at the sum total of the circumstances at the time. Even the bad UFA, i.e., Niemi, we don't know exactly what other goalies were asking or willing to come to what was a terrible team, that he couldn't have signed even if we wanted him to. And, the darling target, Cam Talbot, ended up not being great, either. Again, we measure Niemi against some mythical player that we probably tried to get, but couldn't. Not all UFA just chase the money, and some do, with Nill not willing to pay.

    Like the Goligoski situation. He was unpopular with fans, because we never liked the trade. At best, we thought he was a second pairing guy wanting top pairing money. For Nill, the question was simple. Is this guy worth $5.6M for the long term, given cap management, especially when he wasn't a Nill guy? If he wasn't worth the money, then you don't sign him, even knowing there will be some turnover on D (and some turnovers on D,...…). You can't praise Nill for being a good cap manager, and then knock him for this move.

    For that matter, it's not hard to see why Lites and TG went with Nill. Among similar candidates, they felt comfortable working with Nill because Lites has worked with him before. Everyone else was a total crap shoot.

    And lastly, it is hard to build a long term competitive team. Things just have to fall right, but with the randomness of events, they rarely do. And, I wonder about the "let's just get in the playoffs" mentality. It seems the Cowboys back in the day were seen to have not won as many SB as they could have, and part of that was blamed on the mentality of being just good enough and seeing where the chips fall. It might be mostly true, and the opposite, i.e. building up at the TDL for one better chance at a run, has it's downfalls too. In a cap world, the shooting stars burn out pretty quickly.
     
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  22. BigG44 Registered User

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    Janko is not a bad option, but internally I'd say Scott White is the best option. Definitely not arguing there are better, obvious candidates because I have no clue who they'd be. I'm only pointing out that traditionally, Nill's at a point in his career where it's not entirely uncommon for change to occur. Good GM's lose their job because of lack of success in the playoffs.
     
  23. FirstRowUpperDeck Registered User

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    I remember when Gainey fired himself as coach. A really good GM like Nill (or more like Lites and Galardi) have a reasonable succession plan for the GM in place. Looks like the Stars have that going on. Nill is 61. Could be here as little as 4 years, maybe as much as 9? BTW, his wife's cancer was mentioned when he was hired, but just saw this a few days ago. Apparently something he still deals with, again, with class.


    Stars’ General Manager Builds Team While Facing Adversity at Home
     
  24. Smelling Salt Busey is life

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    I gave him a C+.

    Summer of 2018, I would have given him a D- at best. I was pretty pissed off by alot of his moves up until then (goaltending issue, questionable free agents, another playoff-less season) and I hated his drafting (which admittingly was clouded by the pure rage of the Guri pick and the absolute waste of a draft in 2014). I think his drafting on paper has improved since then, his cap management/signings has generally been good and the last 1.75 seasons the results have been there on the ice, thus the "improvement" to C+.

    I think the 2017 draft is going to be Nill's coupe de grace. Miro/JRob/Otter is an outstanding draft and I believe JRob and Otter will be impact players along with Miro. I wasn't crazy about the Dellandrea pick when it was made but we'll see where that goes. Harley was an outstanding pick.

    I think the 2017 draft panning out is pretty much what is going to make or break the Stars for the next 10 years and ultimately will be Nill's legacy with the team when he's gone.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2020
  25. BigG44 Registered User

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    I hadn't seen the local NBC recent story, but I just happened to luckily catch one that WFAA the ABC affiliate here did a week or so ago. I knew when they hired him they said it was incurable, but I didn't realize she was doing treatments every 3 weeks again.

    The management group is stacked though. Les Jackson doesn't seem to have GM aspirations any more, but he's a top executive, and we've already talked about Janko and White. We'll see what type of manager Zubov could be. Some players are a natural fit and others are better suited as the Ambassador of Fun instead of Co-GM. Lehtinen though has been highly impressive as a manager for Finland. I personally don't think it would be nepotism bringing him into the mix as GM if a move was made. He's legitimately built impressive winning teams for Finland that were balanced and not top heavy. Finland has a lot of talented players, but they aren't as talented as many of the other nations. They win because they're well built and execute a good team identity.
     

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