The trite, but vital, mantra to keep one’s head on a swivel applies to a hockey team’s general manager just as much as it does to the players he employs. They are unremittingly tasked with sustaining stability on the roster in the present while planning potential acquisitions for the short-term future and scouting draft prospects for the long-term future.
Outside of planning for the draft, those other aspects of the GM job description press with extra intensity amidst this season’s unique sprinting marathon of 48 games in 99 days.
Each executive needs to keep up and keep tabs to avert any potholes that are more capable of sabotaging a team’s bid for the playoffs, home ice or first place more than they would be during a conventional 82-game campaign.
As it stands now, this regular season is barely one-third of the way finished and the trading deadline is still more than a month away. Nobody is technically out of the hunt for anything yet, but enough has happened for each club to get a read on what is working and what is not.
In addition, long-term needs must still be kept in mind to ensure that no pushes for a booster this regular season leave a franchise prone to an unnecessary mess later on. Some front offices may be better off taking a risk on this season by not taking one on next year and beyond.
Based on the states of their respective teams, here is what each NHL GM should make their immediate priority.