Yesterday, the QMJHL announced the nominees for its various awards for the 2016 – 2017 season. While the player awards seem to follow the general consensus among media and fans, the two hockey personnel awards were highly disputed as usual. Unlike players and their personal stats, it can be difficult to quantify the work of coaches and general managers. That being said, there are certain ways to objectively measure their performance, and based on my SRS split-season analysis, Acadie-Bathurst Titan GM Sylvain Couturier and Charlottetown Islanders GM Jim Hulton definitely deserved to be nominated for GM of the Year.
Evaluating the work of a GM can be tough given that they perform so many behind the scenes tasks. One relatively straightforward way to compare GMs is to look at player transactions. For a yearly award that is based on a single season’s worth of work, draft picks are too future-based to be weighted heavily. Therefore, I will be looking at in-season trades to objectively evaluate who should have been nominated for GM of the Year in 2016 – 2017.
As discussed in my previous blog posts, my SRS analysis has proven to be an effective measure of team quality. In this case, I am looking to evaluate which GMs most improved their team’s SRS score during the year, so I will be dividing the season into pre-trade deadline and post-trade deadline. The table below shows every team’s SRS scores for both halves of the season, sorted by difference between the scores.
Without a doubt, the most improved team following the trade deadline was the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Sylvain Couturier’s team went into the deadline as the 8th best SRS team. They already had one of the top scoring teams in the league with a top 9 loaded with size and talent. However, they struggled defensively and went through a carousel of goaltenders in the first half. So Couturier went out and got 2 top pairing defencemen, Holwell and Malatesta, and a veteran number 1 goalie, Dumont-Bouchard. All 3 additions immediately helped improve the team and they had a very strong second half of the season where they ranked as the 3rd best SRS team. Couturier significantly improved his team while only making 3 key additions, which is a remarkable display of player acquisition efficiency.
The second most improved team following the deadline was the Charlottetown Islanders. Jim Hulton’s team went into the deadline as the 4th best SRS team, and realizing that this was their year to go for it, they absolutely loaded up. A staggering 9 players were brought in to reinforce an already talented team. Combined with the return of star forward Daniel Sprong, the Islanders had a dominant second half and finished 2nd in SRS, barely behind the league leading Saint John Sea Dogs. Hulton’s approach was certainly different than Couturier’s, as he opted for making as many upgrades as possible in all areas of the team. But the results speak for themselves and heading into the playoffs, they are a top contender who will certainly challenge for the President’s Cup.
Given the above analysis, I believe that Sylvain Couturier and Jim Hulton should have definitely been nominated for GM of the Year, with Couturier ultimately winning the award due to his player acquisition efficiency. Agree or disagree? Feel free to let me know in the comments below or on Twitter.