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Jarmo Week: Comparing Kekalainen to other long-tenured NHL GMs

EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome back to Jarmo Week! We are taking a look back at the successes and failures of Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen over the last decade. Today: Comparing Jarmo to other GMs.

Jarmo Kekalainen is one of the longest tenured GMs in the league. So wouldn’t it be fair to compare him to those that have been with their current teams for similar amounts of time? By now we are all familiar with Jarmo’s successes and failures, but we also know that other GMs are prone to similar mistakes and are also subject to the same luck involved in the draft.

Right off the bat, it doesn’t look to good for the Columbus GM. Each of the below GMs have better overall records and more playoff success. In addition, their teams, with the exception of the Blues, are currently in playoff contention.

There are other long-tenured GMs such as Don Sweeney in Boston and Brian MacLellan in Washington, but both of those GMs inherited multiple elite players, so they don’t provide the best comparisons.

First, we take a look at Jarmo’s stats for comparison’s sake. Then we dive into the other GMs.

Jarmo Kekalainen
Regular season record: 364-310-77 (.536)
Playoff series wins: 2
Playoff appearances: 5 (out of 9 seasons)
Best finish: Second round

David Poile, Nashville Predators, hired 1997
Regular season record: 897-686-60-170 (.558)
Playoff series wins: 7
Playoff appearances: 15 (out of 23 seasons)
Best finish: Stanley Cup runner-up

It’s hard to believe, but the Nashville Predators have had only one GM. Poile has been with the team for all 23 seasons and, although the team doesn’t have a Stanley Cup to show off, he’s been one of the most successful GMs in the league. He’s made some solid draft picks outside of the top ten: Ryan Ellis (11th overall, 2009), Kevin Fiala (11th overall, 2014), Alexander Radulov (15th overall, 2004), Roman Josi (38th overall, 2008), and Mattias Ekholm (102nd overall, 2009) to name a few. Perhaps his best trade was in 2013 when he moved Martin Erat and Michael Latta for Filip Forsberg.

Jim Nill, Dallas Stars, hired 2013
Regular season record: 385-272-94 (.575)
Playoff series wins: 5
Playoff appearances: 5 (out of 10 seasons)
Best finish: Stanley Cup runner-up

One thing Jarmo has failed to do in Columbus is pull a rabbit out of his hat and draft an absolute gem outside of the first round. Poile did that with Josi and it appears that Nill may have done that with 2017 2nd round pick Jason Robertson. In 2013, he pulled off a blockbuster trade for Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverly, giving up Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith in return.

Doug Armstrong, St. Louis Blues, hired 2010
Regular season record: 544-318-102 (.617)
Playoff series wins: 9
Playoff appearances: 10 (out of 12 seasons)
Best finish: Stanley Cup champion

Armstrong has been a GM in the NHL for a total of 17 years and he has never picked higher than 17th overall. Still, he managed to pick Robert Thomas at 20th overall, Jordan Kyrou at 35th overall, and Jordan Binnington at 88th overall. His big stain at the moment, however, is being the GM that traded Tage Thompson. Who cares though? Because Ryan O’Reilly was the return and he helped lead the team to a Stanley Cup.

Brad Treliving, Calgary Flames, hired 2014
Regular season record: 348-255-66 (.570)
Playoff series wins: 3
Playoff appearances: 5 (out of 8 seasons)
Best finish: Second round (twice)

Treliving is probably the GM on this list that is most like Jarmo. He hasn’t made an appearance past the second round and hasn’t made too much noise in the draft outside of picking both Sam Bennett and Matthew Tkachuk in the top 10. Actually, there is one exception. He drafted Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox in the third round before trading him to the Hurricanes with Micheal Ferland and Dougie Hamilton for Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin. But hey, at least he didn’t trade Fox away for two second round picks.

Kevin Cheveldayoff, Winnipeg Jets, hired 2011
Regular season record: 453-343-87 (.562)
Playoff series wins: 3
Playoff appearances: 5 (out of 11 seasons)
Best finish: Conference finals

The Jets GM has been successful by the numbers, but he hasn’t been free of criticism. He is currently in the middle of a situation that Jarmo is all to familiar with. Dubois has not committed to an extension at this time and may end up accepting a qualifying offer with the purpose of testing free agency in 2024. That is hard to swallow for some fans after trading Patrik Laine for him. Outside of that, Cheveldayoff has had successes as a GM, notably drafting Kyle Connor 17th overall in 2015 and Connor Hellebuyck 130th overall in 2012.

How do you think Jarmo Kekalainen compares to these other long-tenured NHL GMs?