Panthers’ Bill Zito among GM award nominees

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Zito, the general manager of the surprising Florida Panthers, was one of the three finalists announced by the NHL on Wednesday for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year award.

He was joined by Jim Nill of the Dallas Stars and Don Sweeney of the Boston Bruins as finalists.

The winner will be announced on June 28 during the first round of the 2023 NHL Draft, to be held in Nashville, Tenn. The award, presented annually since the 2009-10 season, is given based on performance during the regular season.

Zito’s Panthers nabbed the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference as they finished 42-32-8 (92 points). The Panthers ousted the No. 1-seeded Boston Bruins in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and have a 3-0 lead against the Carolina Hurricanes in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.

Zito hired coach Paul Maurice on June 22 and a month later, pulled off the blockbuster trade that sent forward Jonathan Huberdeau and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar to the Calgary Flames for Matthew Tkachuk.

Nill’s Stars finished second in the Central Division this season (47-21-14, 108 points) and have advanced to the Western Conference finals, where they trail the Vegas Golden Knights by a 3-0 margin.

Nill made numerous moves since the end of the 2021-22 season, including hiring coach Peter DeBoer and dealing for forwards Evgenii Dadonov and Max Domi before the 2023 NHL trade deadline on March 3.

Sweeney, in his eighth season on the job, is bidding to join Lou Lamoriello as the only two-time winner; Sweeney was honored in 2018-19. He also hired a new coach, Jim Montgomery, who led the team to NHL records for wins in a season with 65 and points with 135.

Sweeney re-signed forwards Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and David Pastrnak, then engineered trades for forwards Tyler Bertuzzi and Garnet Hathaway, and defenseman Dmitry Orlov.

–Field Level Media

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