With the thinnest of margins, Edmonton’s Ken Holland is set to move into the second round of the GM Bracket Battle after a victory against Kevin Cheveldayoff. Today, it’s the moment Senators fans have been waiting for, as Pierre Dorion is taking the stage in what is likely to be a difficult matchup:
2 – St. Louis Blues: Doug Armstrong
It’s crazy to think about what could have been for the St. Louis Blues prior to their Stanley Cup victory in 2019. Everyone knows that they were sitting right at the bottom of the standings at the turn of the calendar year, yet somehow managed to be the last team standing at the end of the season. Armstrong, who has been with the Blues organization since 2008, played a major role in helping them get there. When things were looking bad, he didn’t panic. It paid off.
Beyond the team success that Armstrong has helped build in St. Louis is a laundry list of impressive player acquisitions for which he should be commended. Landing Ryan O’Reilly for peanuts. Drafting Vladimir Tarasenko. Signing Alex Pietrangelo through his twenties, the prime years of a player’s career. This list is by no means comprehensive. Armstrong has consistently pushed the right buttons in St. Louis, and his team is a powerhouse in the West because of it.
31 – Ottawa Senators: Pierre Dorion
Pierre Dorion doesn’t have the same sort of flashy resume that Armstrong has built in St. Louis, but he has largely gone about rebuilding the Ottawa Senators in the right way. He stockpiled picks. He’s built a prospect pipeline overflowing with talent. He nailed the Erik Karlsson trade, one of the league’s more noteworthy blockbusters in recent memory. He followed it up by acquiring a haul for J-G Pageau. He hired a coach who is willing to play an entertaining, up-tempo style. Simply put – it’s a lot more fun to follow the Ottawa Senators today than it was a couple years ago.
That’s not to say it’s all positive, though. For every Erik Karlsson trade, there’s a Mark Stone trade. There are also serious questions about the organization’s pro scouting under his leadership, with the team seemingly focussed on acquiring players that meet some definition of “toughness and leadership” as opposed to “good at hockey.” The amateur scouting and player development boxes have been checked; the question for Dorion is whether he can take this team to the next level.