You know that one person in your fantasy hockey league that is constantly asking about trades? Heck, it might even be you. But every league has one. It can be incredibly annoying if they keep asking about the same players over and over, but it can also make things a lot more interesting.
Well, the NHL is no different, as some General Managers absolutely love making as many deals as possible, while others are much more patient and like to sit back.
Pierre Dorion has been incredibly active this off-season, as he has made eight trades since the beginning of October. Some of them are very minor like the Michael Carcone for Zachary Magwood swap, but some of them such as the Matt Murray deal are quite significant. That is something that I have noticed ever since he became GM of the Senators: he isn’t afraid to make trades and will make as many as he can, including small ones that affect the Belleville Senators as well.
With that thought in my mind, I wanted to know if my inclination was actually true: does Dorion make more trades than a typical GM or does it just feel like he makes a lot of trades?
I spent more time than I’d like to admit on this, but I researched all 31 NHL GM’s trade histories to see which ones make the most trades per 365 days of the year. Now, some GM’s are very new so you can’t read too much into their data. Others such as David Poile, Lou Lamoriello, Jim Rutherford, and Ken Holland have been around for over two or even three decades, so their tendencies are much more clear.
I looked at current GM’s and not the teams themselves because this is about analyzing particular people. There are several GM’s who have worked for multiple teams, and their total trade numbers are listed with an asterisk to indicate that not all of them came with their current team. Furthermore, since some trade data stretches into the 1990s and even the 1980s, the information isn’t quite as reliable and there might be some missing information. Nevertheless, the data here should be almost exact, especially for GM’s who have only been active in the 21st century.
So here are all 31 GM’s in order of how many trades they average per 365 days (as of December 28th, 2020):
GM Trade Frequencies
|Team||General Manager||GM Tenure (in career)||Total Trades||Total trades per 365|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||Kyle Dubas||2 years, 10 months, 28 days||41||14.038|
|Florida Panthers||Bill Zito||3 months, 26 days||4||12.373|
|Anaheim Ducks||Bob Murray||14 years, 6 months, 15 days*||168*||11.542|
|Ottawa Senators||Pierre Dorion||4 years, 8 months, 19 days||50||10.585|
|Montreal Canadiens||Marc Bergevin||8 years, 7 months, 26 days||91||10.534|
|Chicago Blackhawks||Stan Bowman||11 years, 5 months, 15 days||109||9.504|
|Carolina Hurricanes||Don Waddell||14 years, 5 months, 13 days*||133*||9.087|
|New Jersey Devils||Tom Fitzgerald||11 months, 14 days||8||8.295|
|Nashville Predators||David Poile||38 years, 3 months*||315*||8.228|
|San Jose Sharks||Doug Wilson||17 years, 7 months, 15 days||143||8.105|
|New York Rangers||Jeff Gorton||5 years, 5 months, 27 days||44||7.998|
|Detroit Red Wings||Steve Yzerman||9 years, 11 months, 26 days*||79*||7.896|
|Los Angeles Kings||Rob Blake||3 years, 8 months, 18 days||28||7.52|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||Jarmo Kekalainen||7 years, 10 months, 16 days||58||7.361|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||Jim Rutherford||26 years, 4 months, 22 days*||191*||7.23|
|Arizona Coyotes||Bill Armstrong||3 months, 12 days||2||7.087|
|Vegas Golden Knights||Kelly McCrimmon||1 year, 3 months, 27 days||9||6.773|
|Minnesota Wild||Bill Guerin||1 year, 4 months, 7 days||9||6.623|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||Julien BriseBois||2 years, 3 months, 17 days||15||6.518|
|Vancouver Canucks||Jim Benning||6 years, 7 months, 7 days||43||6.502|
|Colorado Avalanche||Joe Sakic||6 years, 3 months, 10 days||38||6.049|
|Philadelphia Flyers||Chuck Fletcher||11 years, 5 months, 3 days*||67*||5.857|
|New York Islanders||Lou Lamoriello||32 years, 11 months, 23 days*||181*||5.483|
|Calgary Flames||Brad Treliving||6 years, 8 months, 1 day||36||5.392|
|St. Louis Blues||Doug Armstrong||16 years, 3 months, 16 days*||85*||5.211|
|Washington Capitals||Brian MacLellan||6 years, 7 months, 2 days||34||5.152|
|Dallas Stars||Jim Nill||7 years, 8 months||36||4.691|
|Boston Bruins||Don Sweeney||5 years, 7 months, 9 days||23||4.095|
|Winnipeg Jets||Kevin Cheveldayoff||9 years, 6 months, 20 days||39||4.076|
|Buffalo Sabres||Kevyn Adams||6 months, 13 days||2||3.724|
|Edmonton Oilers||Ken Holland||23 years, 4 months, 22 days*||74*||3.149|
As you can see, Pierre Dorion is right up there at fourth overall, averaging 10.585 trades per year. However, Bill Zito has only been on the job for four months, so realistically Dorion is third behind just Bob Murray and noted Senators fan Kyle Dubas.
Although I was hoping for Dorion to be number one before I started this exercise (because who doesn’t love some good confirmation bias?), he’s still comfortably near the top of the league, proving that he has been incredibly active ever since being promoted in April 2016. Now, some of those moves were minor that would have mainly included AHL players, but he has made plenty of NHL moves as well. I would’ve liked to classify “NHL” and “AHL” trades for each GM, although that would’ve probably taken multiple days...
Besides Dorion, two other crazy things stand out to me: firstly, the fact that Dubas averages 2.496 more trades per year than second-place Murray and that he’s completed almost double the amount as the league average. Secondly, I don’t understand how Ken Holland has been an NHL GM for 23 years and made just 74 trades, with barely over three per season. Dorion has been GM for four and a half years and he could catch up in just a few more years! Despite Holland’s lack of trades, he was still able to build a dynasty.
Before Dorion got promoted, the late great Bryan Murray was certainly a different GM. With Ottawa, he made 47 trades in over 8 years, averaging just 5.329 per year—or essentially half the amount Dorion has made. So it has been quite a shift in newsworthy stories regarding the Senators, as you can never rule out a trade for most months of the season. Making trades for the sake of it isn’t necessarily good, but I do prefer action over inaction, especially because it gives us things to talk about.
What this exercise shows me is that Dorion loves making trades and he clearly works extremely hard. We’ve heard that before, and I don’t doubt that. Considering how small Ottawa’s front office is, I think Dorion would benefit immensely from another top executive next to him so that he doesn’t have to do as much work (whatever happened to the POHO anyway?). I’ve been saying that for years, and I don’t think much has changed. Even if they think it’s better to have a small, tight-knit group, it would definitely benefit them to have more voices in the room so there are new perspectives but also so Dorion isn’t burnt out.
No matter how their front office looks though, I certainly respect the hustle from Dorion because he’s been one of the best at getting deals done.