Was Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald snubbed by NHL General Manager of the Year Award?

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 General head Tom Fitzgerald of nan New Jersey Devils announces a statement hold for Jack Hughes anterior to nan crippled against nan San Jose Sharks astatine nan Prudential Center connected November 30, 2021 successful Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 30: General head Tom Fitzgerald of nan New Jersey Devils announces a statement hold for Jack Hughes anterior to nan crippled against nan San Jose Sharks astatine nan Prudential Center connected November 30, 2021 successful Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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General head of nan New Jersey Devils, Tom Fitzgerald, shockingly is not a finalist for nan NHL’s 2023 Jim Gregory General Manager of nan Year Award. 

New Jersey Devils General Manager Tom Fitzgerald should person been a finalist for nan 2023 Jim Gregory General Manager of nan Year Award for his building of a strong, competitory roster pursuing a agelong rebuild. The award finalists for General Manager of nan Year are Jim Nill of nan Dallas Stars, Don Sweeney of nan Boston Bruins, and Bill Zito of nan Florida Panthers. The finalists are decided done a ballot by NHL wide managers, NHL executives, and members of nan media.

The Devils exceeded expectations pinch 112 points successful nan 2022-23 regular season, a 49-point betterment complete nan 2021-22 season, nan largest turnaround successful NHL history. The squad held a regular play grounds of 52-22-8. They went from nan third-worst grounds successful nan Eastern Conference 1 twelvemonth to nan third-best grounds successful nan NHL nan adjacent year. In an breathtaking Stanley Cup Playoffs series, nan Devils hit nan New York Rangers successful Round 1 earlier being eliminated by nan Carolina Hurricanes successful Round 2. Captain Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, Dawson Mercer, and Dougie Hamilton were immoderate of nan Devils who had a batch of occurrence this year.

Despite a disappointing 2021-22 season, Fitzgerald kept Lindy Ruff arsenic nan caput coach for nan 2022-23 season. Instead of moving to a caller caput coach arsenic immoderate hoped he would, Fitzgerald improved upon nan Devils’ adjunct coaching unit by hiring Andrew Brunette, Sergei Brylin, and Ryan McGill. In nan 2022 NHL draft, nan Devils drafted Simon Nemec, Seamus Casey, and Tyler Brennan. Simon Nemec is expected to person a large effect successful nan 2023-24 season.

Fitzgerald made immoderate big, bold moves pinch roster building successful caller years. He besides made immoderate quieter moves that paid off. First, let’s look astatine Fitzgerald’s large moves which show that Fitzgerald was snubbed.

Big moves Tom Fitzgerald made while building a Devils roster to compete for a Stanley Cup

The biggest scatter of nan 2023 play was nan trade for Timo Meier astatine nan waste and acquisition deadline, sending ripples of excitement done nan Devils fanbase. Fitzgerald traded Fabian Zetterlund, Andreas Johnsson, Nikitia Okhotiuk, and Shakir Mukhamadullin on pinch draught picks successful speech for Timo Meier, Santeri Hatakka, Scott Harrington, Zachary Emond, Timur Ibragimov, and a draught pick. The Sharks retained half of Meier’s salary.

Fitzgerald made this monolithic woody hap without having to portion pinch a large sanction for illustration Dawson Mercer aliases Luke Hughes. This offseason, Meier is going to beryllium a restricted free supplier pinch a $10 cardinal qualifying offer. Fitzgerald would for illustration to quadrate things distant pinch Meier, who scored 40 goals during nan regular season. Meier fits successful good pinch nan Devils.

Dougie Hamilton’s signing was 2 offseasons ago, truthful it mightiness not beryllium looked astatine erstwhile examining what a GM has done successful nan past twelvemonth to merit a General Manager of nan Year nod, but nan Hamilton signing paid disconnected successful nan 2022-23 season. Fitzgerald locked down nan seasoned defenseman done 2027-28 pinch a large seven-year statement worthy $63 million. In summation to shutting down opponents’ offense, Hamilton scored 22 goals during nan 2022-23 regular season, tying a franchise grounds for astir goals by a defenseman successful 1 season. Get nan puck to Dougie Hamilton erstwhile nan crippled is connected nan line. He’s known for delivering.

Goaltender Vitek Vanecek was acquired successful nan 2022 offseason done a waste and acquisition pinch nan Washington Capitals arsenic a restricted free supplier successful speech for draught picks. It whitethorn not person seemed for illustration a immense waste and acquisition astatine nan time, arsenic nan Devils were expected to rotation pinch Mackenzie Blackwood arsenic their main goalie, but it was a bigger woody than galore realized. Considering nan Devils utilized 7 goalies during nan 2021-22 season, Vanecek’s reliability was an reply to nan Devils’ struggles betwixt nan pipes.

The Devils signed Vanecek to a three-year woody worthy 10.2 million. While Mackenzie Blackwood dealt pinch injuries, Vanecek shined successful his first regular play pinch nan Devils. He had a .911 SV% and joined Martin Brodeur arsenic nan only goalies to triumph 30 games successful 1 play successful Devils history. Although Vanecek struggled during nan playoffs, he’s a cardinal portion of why nan Devils sewage there. The goalie business is nether a microscope for nan 2023-24 play owed to Vanecek’s playoff collapse. Fitzgerald will request to determine if he’s going to person Lindy Ruff rotation pinch an Akira Schmid/Vitek Vanecek goalie duo aliases if he’ll reside nan position successful different way.

One move that mightiness look for illustration it hasn’t rather panned retired is signing seasoned winger Ondrej Palat, but there’s much to nan communicative than stats. Fitzgerald brought Palat successful connected a five-year $30 cardinal woody arsenic a seasoned beingness pinch playoff experience. Palat spent a bully chunk of nan play retired pinch a groin wounded and didn’t make overmuch discourtesy erstwhile he returned. Despite clip missed, Fitzgerald made it clear that Palat remained involved pinch nan squad during his rehab, offering dependable leadership. Palat has much years successful a Devils’ azygous to create a lasting effect connected nan team.

Now, let’s look astatine Fitzgerald’s savviest moves.

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