George McPhee has been nominated for the NHL’s General Manager of the Year award alongside Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Kevin Cheveldayoff of the Winnipeg Jets. After the season the Vegas Golden Knights have had, it’s not hard to see why.
In fact, McPhee is likely a shoo-in for the award, even with tough competition. The Golden Knights went from not having a roster at this time last year to having two wins in the Western Conference Final (so far). While McPhee has made some questionable moves (trading Brendan Leipsic hasn’t been popular, and Tomas Tatar hasn’t looked great considering the return), he’s also made a fantastic team out of nothing.
The Golden Knights have broken most, if not all, of the expansion team records and have gone so much further than anyone could have expected. That’s because of how McPhee built this team. While even he didn’t expect this level of instant success, his decision to bring in Gerard Gallant as head coach and his ability to take advantage of poor decisions made by other general managers in the expansion draft process has made him one of the best this season.
A few of his most impressive moves were the acquisitions of both Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith from the Florida Panthers, Erik Haula and Alex Tuch from the Minnesota Wild and Shea Theodore from the Anaheim Ducks. Plus, his vision in drafting players like William Karlsson has been monumental to Vegas’ success. Eleven players on the team had career highs in points this season.
The Knights became the first modern-era expansion team from the four major North American professional sports leagues to win their division, and reaching the Western Conference Final made Vegas only the third team in NHL history to win multiple playoff rounds in its inaugural season.
McPhee has done something no other GM has done in the history of hockey, at least not since the Original Six era. His nomination serves as recognition for his achievements, and it’s likely he’ll be properly rewarded.