The Final Frontier: The Explanation of the Advanced Bracton General Manager Evaluation Metric and The Successful Transition to an Official AB Organizational Philosophy

Abstract- After nearly eight months of research, anticipation, and execution, we at hockeyfreeforall.com are proud to announce the successful completion of the new Advanced Bracton General Management Metric.

Expanding individually registered AB scores beyond the confines of the ice since its creation in 2007 has certainly been a demanding process. However, we can confidently say that the completion of this study will change the way we analyze the game on this website for the foreseeable future. Throughout this pursuit, we examined every decision made by every general manager of each NHL franchise from 2007-present in the form of trades, free agency acquisitions, as well as draft history using the General Managers tool on CapFriendly.com. As usual, we thank the people at CapFriendly for their terrific work, as this study would never have been completed without them.

We approached this process similar to the way the Coaches study we embarked on over the previous summer was conducted, as each General Manager was examined and compared regardless of tenure, in addition to a set of predetermined conditions which we will now address. First, like our coach’s study, several general managers received credit for years in which they did not actually finish the season employed by the organization. While it varied on a case-by-case basis in some instances, we figured that the replacement or interim GM hire would not have made any significant changes to the previously constructed roster, therefore allowing the full results of the season to count towards the previous GM’s record. As mentioned in the prior paragraph, we analyzed GM effectiveness using four different methods including, trade history, free-agency history, draft history, and overall AB team success during their careers.

In the case of more tenured GMs such as David Poile or Lou Lamoriello, we explored as far as their CapFriendly pages allowed, as most trades/free-agent signings before the year 2000 were not documented. As a result of this, we only included the drafts that correspond with the year of the final trade shown on the tool. For example, Glen Sather’s last reported trade on CapFriendly was the Chris Simon trade to the Calgary Flames on March 6th, 2004, therefore the first draft included in the study was his 2004 draft with the New York Rangers, excluding his drafts from 1980-1999 with the Edmonton Oilers, as well as his 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003 drafts with the New York Rangers. Also, for the sake of formatting, all players drafted in the former 8th round or later were given 7th round draft status. Due to their recent hirings and obvious lack of data, Vancouver Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin, Montreal Canadiens General Manager Kent Hughes, and Anaheim Ducks General Manager Pat Verbeek are not yet included in this study but will definitely be added later in their tenures. With all this being said, there was 71 current and formal general managers included in this study, as the list below details.

This write-up of the results of our General Manager study will be displayed differently than the coach’s report from last summer and the junior hockey report from last year, as we will not be releasing our entire rankings. However, this report will discuss the general manager whom we believe to be the best in the NHL today, in addition to the franchise we believe has been the most successful over the last fourteen years in accordance with our new organizational efficiency formula. In theory, the “organizational philosophy” is putting all of our work together. We believe, by combining the total team AB scores at the end of each respective season with a total coaching AB score discussed in our previous study, in addition to our new General manager AB score, that the final number will effectively show that the most successful NHL teams are the ones with the best AB results across the board. As a result of this study, we feel we are correct in our assumption, as you’ll come to find out later in this report.

After collecting all the data shown in graphic one for all 71 GMs included in our study, the results indicated that Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney is currently the best GM in the NHL. Sweeney has been the Bruins GM since May 20th, 2015, meaning all data for his decisions and results were available to us, eliminating the potential for a situation similar to the one we discussed pertaining to Glen Sather in an earlier paragraph. Sweeney is responsible for the extensions of several key Bruins players including Charlie McAvoy, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Charlie Coyle, and Brandon Carlo. All of these players are positive AB performers. In fact, eight of Don Sweeney’s richest contracts were given to players with above-average AB scores. We also noticed that of the thirteen contracts Don Sweeney signed which included a term of 4+ years, ten of them were issued to positive AB players. These numbers are among the highest of any GM in our study, as the majority of them gave large amounts of money to lower AB players leading to eventual trades and buyouts. Sweeney was also responsible for drafting many significant members of the current Bruins team including Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Jake DeBrusk, and Jeremy Swayman, as well as other players who are finding success with different NHL clubs such as Ryan Lindgren and Jeremy Lauzon. In fact, of the players drafted by Don Sweeney currently in the NHL today, the average AB score is +3.56, the best of any GM in the study by a wide margin. He has made one coaching hire in his six seasons as GM when he fired Claude Julien in 2016-17, replacing him with Bruce Cassidy. The team saw an overall improvement of nearly +20 AB points after the move and haven’t registered a season below +40 team AB since the decision.

Sweeney’s tenure with the Bruins has led to five playoff appearances for the club, including a Stanley Cup Finals berth in 2019, in which they fell in seven games to the St. Louis Blues. We were not surprised that Sweeney was the best GM in our study, and we also weren’t surprised to see that the Boston Bruins were the best AB franchise in terms of our organizational philosophy formula. Since the creation of our metric in 2007, the Bruins have only missed the playoffs twice, won the Stanley Cup in 2011, and made the finals two additional times, losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013, as well as the Blues in 2019 as we previously mentioned. Even the years in which the Bruins failed to qualify for playoff contention, they still finished with above 90 points in the regular season, which shows the sustained success this organization has had over the past fourteen years.

As Sweeney and the Bruins continue to succeed on the ice in 2022, with another playoff appearance seemingly guaranteed this season, we will certainly be following them much closer than usual. We apologize for the lack of content posted on the site since around Thanksgiving of 2021, however, the trade deadline is quickly approaching, meaning it’s the biggest time of the year for us. Stay tuned, as the completion of this project will lead to much more articles and discussions in the near future. Much more to come.

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