The Dallas Stars front office has been impressive, to say the least, since undergoing a full makeover in the summer of 2013, and the rest of the league is officially taking notice. Jim Nill, who replaced Joe Nieuwendyk at the very end of the 2012-13 regular season, was named a finalist for the 2016 NHL's General Manager of the Year award.
More than half of the 2015-16 Stars, who won the Western Conference regular-season title with 109 points, were acquired by Nill, including huge pieces such as Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp. Nill has been extremely active in summer free agency and the off-season trademark throughout his tenure, proving it is indeed possible to make major personnel moves that improve a team in a few short years.
In Nill's three seasons with the team, the Stars have made the post-season twice after a stretch of five consecutive playoff misses. And while there are certainly pieces that are missed (Reilly Smith has turned into an extremely solid player with the Florida Panthers, and Loui Eriksson is perhaps the top defensive forward on the free agent market), the assets the Stars have brought in more than make up for it.
Heck, Nill even has cap space to sign Jamie Benn (and eventually Seguin) to monster extensions without hamstringing the rest of the roster. That's good planning.
This is the fourth post-season award the Stars will be up for. Nill joins coach Lindy Ruff, up for the Jack Adams, and captain Jamie Benn, who is a finalist for both the Ted Lindsay Award and the Hart Trophy.
Here is the official release from the team:
The National Hockey League announced today that Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill was named a finalist for NHL General Manager of the Year for the 2015-16 season. Nill joins Washington Capitals Senior Vice President and General Manager Brian MacLellan and Pittsburgh Penguins Executive Vice President and General Manager Jim Rutherford as the three finalists for the annual award presented to recognize the work of the league's general managers.
Voting for the NHL General Manager of the Year award is conducted by the 30 club general managers and a panel of NHL executives, print and broadcast media at the conclusion of the regular season. This is the first time Nill has been named as a finalist for the award.
The Stars opened the 2015-16 regular season in record-setting fashion as the team matched its best seven-game start to a season in franchise history with a 6-1-0 record. The club would go on to establish new franchise records for best starts through 15 games (12-3-0), 39 games (28-8-3) and 43 games, at which time the team had accumulated 62 points and a 29-10-4 record, ranking tops win the Western Conference.
The Stars finished the 2015-16 as the regular season Central Division and Western Conference champions, posting 109 points and a 50-23-9 record. This season marked the first time that Dallas had won a division title since the team finished first in the Pacific Division with 112 points in 2005-06, also marking the last time the team earned at least 109 points. Dallas made its second postseason appearance in the last three seasons and defeated Minnesota, 4-2, in the Western Conference First Round for the team's first postseason series win since the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Nill finishes his third season as General Manager of the Stars after being appointed to the position following the 2012-13 season. He is the 11th General Manager in franchise history and the sixth since the team moved to Dallas.