June 22, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ray Shero announces the Penguins first round draft choice in the 2012 NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Penguins' Ray Shero named finalist for NHL GM of the year

Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang were nominated for league awards last week, and accolades for the Pittsburgh Penguins continue to arrive from the NHL office.

This time, the kudos are focused on the Penguins’ executive suite, as Ray Shero was announced as a finalist for the league’s general manager of the year award on Monday morning. Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens and the Anaheim Ducks’ Bob Murray join Shero in the top three.

A panel made up of NHL’s 30 league general managers, other executives and members of the print and broadcast media votes on the award, which is based on regular-season accomplishments.

This is the first GM of the year nomination for Shero, in his seventh year overseeing the Penguins’ hockey operations department. While the credentials of Bergevin and Murray are burnished by their teams making big jumps up the standings, Shero’s case for winning the award is based on fine-tuning an already-strong club.

Starting with his draft-day trade of Jordan Staal to Carolina for Brandon Sutter and other assets, Shero has seemingly turned over every stone to improve the Penguins over the past calendar year. Afforded extra salary-cap space by the transition to the new NHL collective bargaining agreement, Shero added veterans Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray, Jarome Iginla and Jussi Jokinen prior to the trade deadline to bolster the Pens’ Stanley Cup chances.

The Penguins have won at least 45 games in every full season they’ve played under Shero’s watch, capped by 52 in 2011-12. Pittsburgh went 36-12-0 in the lockout-shortened 2013 slate, good for a .750 points percentage which was the best in franchise history, albeit in a smaller sample size than usual.

According to the Penguins’ website, 21 of the 28 players on the team’s postseason roster have been either drafted or acquired under Shero’s guidance. His stint in Pittsburgh began in the spring of 2006, with his first season producing a 47-point jump in the standings from the previous year.

Had the GM of the year award existed in 2007, Shero would have been one of the favorites to win it. This year, the fourth in the short history of the prize, the winner will be announced during the Stanley Cup Final in late June.

If Shero has his druthers, he’ll be a little preoccupied at that time.

Tags: NHL Pittsburgh Penguins Ray Shero

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