Few general managers have made the kind of impact Steve Yzerman has in his first year with Tampa Bay Lightning.
Between his free-agent acquisitions, his trades and his hiring of staff and scouts, Yzerman's fingerprints are all over the Tampa Bay franchise.
Let's review why Stevie Y should be the NHL Executive of the Year.
It's hard to argue with the success of the Detroit Red Wings franchise—11 Stanley Cups, 6 conference championships, 19 division titles—few teams in the NHL can match the Wings' success.
Yzerman brings their philosophy to Tampa Bay. He doesn't want physically imposing, high-penalty-generating teams. He wants a blend of speed and skill with a mind to protecting your own net.
It's a formula that has worked well in Detroit and is off to a fantastic start in Tampa Bay.
While Zenon Konopka was a fan favorite, he didn't fit into the "Red Wings Way in Tampa Bay" philosophy.
Yzerman allowed Konopka to leave via free agency along with fellow dead weights Alex Tanguay, Ryan Craig, Todd Fedoruk, Kurtis Foster and Andrej Meszaros.
This cleared the way for more important contributors.
If anyone knows how to win Stanley Cups, it's Stevie Y, and Yzerman knows you don't just win with superstars.
The role players all play crucial roles. Finding depth like Sean Bergenheim, Dominic Moore and Nate Thompson while bringing up the Dana Tyrells and Blair Joneses from the minors gave the Lightning the ability to play Guy Boucher's very aggressive system.
After three years of trade rumors, Vincent Lecavalier finally received piece of mind with Steve Yzerman. Stevie Y assured Vinny that the organization had no intention of trading the Lightning superstar, allowing Lecavalier to concentrate and raise his level of play on both ends of the ice.
Lecavalier finished with 25 goals and 54 points and has been a critical part of the Bolts' playoff run.
Yzerman made it a summer of abusing the Philadelphia Flyers by getting a second-round draft pick for the albatross contract of Andrej Meszaros. He followed that up by sending defenseman Matt Walker and a fourth-round draft pick for prolific scorer Simon Gagne.
Gagne was injured much of the season (as he has been the last few years of his career) but still provided secondary scoring for Tampa Bay with 17 goals and 40 points in 63 games.
His impact is certainly being felt in the playoffs with eight points in 10 games.
Yzerman understood Tampa Bay needed a lot of help along the blue line.
With that in mind, he rebuilt the core with the additions of Brett Clark, Randy Jones and Pavel Kubina. Later in the year, he add some scoring touch to the defense core with Marc-Andre Bergeron.
While the additions certainly helped on the blue line, the Lightning still lacked leadership, skill and toughness. Yzerman fixed that near the trade deadline, trading for St. Louis Blues captain Eric Brewer for prospect Brock Bukeboom and a third-round pick.
Brewer has stabilized the Lightning defense, adding a tremendous presence with linemates Mattais Ohlund and Victor Hedman.
The greatest Lightning players deserve to end their careers as members of the Bolts. St. Louis continues to be the epitome of what a great hockey player is.
St. Louis' return to Tampa Bay was in doubt until he recognized the direction in which the organization was going. Yzerman brought credibility to Tampa Bay and assured Marty of a crucial role with the team.
He led the Bolts with 99 points and 31 goals.
Realizing his playoff-caliber team was left a bit wanting in the most important position, Yzerman consummated a deal with the NY Islanders for 41-year-old netminder Dwayne Roloson in exchange for minor leaguer Ty Wishart.
Roloson has been outstanding with Tampa Bay, solidifying the Lightning's net and providing his offense the confidence it needs to run Guy Boucher's system.
Guy Boucher was a hot commodity in the coaching ranks, but it was the vision of Steve Yzerman that meshed with Boucher's unique coaching style.
Boucher is extremely intelligent with a degree in sports psychology. He has a terrific grasp of strategy and his hockey team has completely bought into his theories.
Listen to the players talk—you'd think Boucher had his hand in their backs and was doing a ventriloquist act.
Boucher's first season led the Lightning to the second-most points in franchise history and a return to the playoffs for the first time in three years.
His team is now in the conference finals and, no matter what happens, has had one of the most dramatic turnarounds in the NHL this year.