This is my life now, I'm the Insider guy.
2. Paul Fenton, Predators
Claude Noel, who has kept the Jets in the playoff race as one of the East's surprising postseason contenders, credited his time in the Nashville organization for building the base of what it looks like to run a successful franchise.
"Winning became a result of the foundation of the body of work you provided," he said. Nashville's fingerprints are now all over the league, sometimes in the form of a starting goalie or franchise defenseman or in the form of a general manager like Shero who developed under David Poile in Nashville. Fenton is no different. He's another great talent evaluator who knows how to build a team without lavish spending. He's ready.
3. Laurence Gilman, Canucks
Fans of advanced stats love Gilman because he's shown a willingness to include statistical analysis as a part of decision-making. He's part of a group of smart, analytical thinkers that includes guys like Stars assistant GM Frank Provenzano and Washington assistant GM Don Fishman. It wouldn't be surprising to see all three running teams someday. In explaining his use of advanced stats, Gilman told the CBC's Elliotte Friedman: "Believe me when I tell you there are percentage results that allow you to coach and manage your team to hedge bets in certain events."
It's a provocative statement and one he wasn't willing to expand on for me.
"We don't want to educate our competition," he said, while politely declining to provide more details. Gilman has helped build the Canucks into an annual Stanley Cup contender, deftly keeping Vancouver's group of stars around long-term in a cap system.
4. Ron Hextall, Kings
Kings GM Dean Lombardi is quick to credit Hextall for his part in building the Kings into a Stanley Cup champion. The obvious contribution is the fact Los Angeles has two high-end goaltenders in Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier but Hextall's impact goes well beyond that. After retiring as a player, Hextall put in the work as a scout, the thousands of miles on the road, learning the trade. He remains as competitive as he was as a player but carries a presence and ability to communicate with today's players that is invaluable.
"You're in that job, you've always got to remember that these people are working together for you. You're part of it. He got that from his dad," said Flyers senior vice president Bobby Clarke when we chatted about Hextall last spring. "He's earned the right to be GM in this league."
5. Brad Treliving, Coyotes
Like Maloney, Treliving's contract is up after this season and the uncertain future surrounding the Coyotes could be an opportunity for a rival team. The job Maloney and Treliving have done in keeping that team competitive on a limited payroll is remarkable. Even more impressive is that Treliving has helped the organization restock its young players while the NHL team has won. Their group of young defensemen, led by Oliver Ekman-Larsson, is poised to be one of the deepest in the West. Prospect Brandon Gormley may be the next Phoenix star on defense. It's a unique situation in Phoenix but one in which Treliving has thrived.
"In our position, the focus has been how do we get better? Not getting caught up in all the other noise in the background," Treliving said on Tuesday, during an AHL scouting trip. "It's been trying to really break down our team and our organization into little bites and say how do we improve by percentage points in particular areas? That's been our focus."
It'd be fun to see what Maloney or Treliving could do with stability, a real budget and an actual owner.
6. Jeff Gorton, Rangers
Shortly after the Penguins made their trade-deadline splash, I had a conversation with Gorton wondering how the Rangers would respond. He assured that there was a Rangers plan in place and we'd all find out in due time. Then he and GM Glen Sather made the bold step of trading Marian Gaborik, despite scoring issues, to replenish their depth and free up summer cap space. They also added Ryane Clowe, who has been a great fit for New York. The moves could end up sparking a Rangers postseason run and if they face the Bruins, it will be a matchup of two teams that Gorton had a huge hand in building. Gorton left Boston to join the Rangers and his draft record with both teams stacks up with that of anyone in the league.
7. Jason Botterill, Penguins
When the Penguins started adding expensive veterans at the trade deadline, fans wondered how a team with so many high-paid players was able to fit the new pieces in under the cap. Credit Botterill, who is the Penguins' salary-cap point man. It wasn't even an issue. Botterill has the playing background as a former first-round pick of the Stars and went back to the University of Michigan to get his MBA after his playing days were done. His responsibilities with the Penguins are similar to what Chuck Fletcher did during his time in Pittsburgh and what Shero did in Nashville.
"[He's a] good listener and has a good opinion," Shero said.
8. Jim Benning and Don Sweeney, Bruins
Peter Chiarelli deserves a lot of credit for building the Bruins into an annual Cup contender, but he's another GM who is quick to deflect the credit toward the guys working with him in assistant GMs Sweeney and Benning.
"Both outstanding in their own way," Chiarelli said. Benning spent 12 seasons with the Sabres, including eight seasons as the team's director of amateur scouting. Chiarelli leans on him for all player personnel decisions. Sweeney is in charge of the development of the Bruins' prospects, implementing the team's first development camp in 2007.
9. Tim Murray, Senators
He's got the pedigree as the son of Bryan Murray's brother but more importantly he's a big part of the young talent contributing to the Senators' surprising success. He oversees Ottawa's AHL team in Binghamton, a group that won the 2011 Calder Cup, and it's many of those players who have helped the Senators stay in the playoff race while injuries crushed veterans. Ottawa is another team that has managed to develop a large group of impressive young talent without the traditional tear-down rebuild like the one the Oilers are struggling to emerge from.
10. Julien BriseBois, Lightning
He's a rising star in the NHL world of executives and in the past has shown he's in no hurry to rush his development, which started in Montreal and is now in its third season under Steve Yzerman in Tampa Bay. He's got the base of a lawyer, with a background working arbitration cases with the law firm Heenan Blaikie before he joined the Canadiens. Tampa's AHL affiliates have thrived under BriseBois, with the Norfolk Admirals winning the organization's first Calder Cap last spring. With Yzerman, BriseBois has restocked a thin prospect pipeline in Tampa. If Quebec ever gets another NHL team, it's hard to imagine a better GM hire than BriseBois, a native of Greenfield Park, Quebec.