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Study: Who is the most efficient general manager in the NHL?

Why is this man smiling? Because he's really, really good at his job … and the numbers back it up.

Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning didn't win the NHL's 2011 General Manager of the Year award, which went to Mike Gillis of the Vancouver Canucks. But when it came to getting quality performances and success in the standings compared to a team's payroll, there were none better than Stevie Y.

That's how Derek Zona of the Edmonton Oilers blog Copper & Blue quantifies it, using something called Marginal Cap Efficiency to measure which teams got the most success for their buck.

(Not necessarily the most "bang" — the Calgary Flames were eighth in offense but in the bottom five in cap efficiency last season, for example.)

From Zona, a quick summary of the measurement:

Marginal cap efficiency tracks the number of points per million dollars in salary cap spent over the league minimum salary.  It's a crude device for analyzing the performance of a General Manager in the cap era.

By that measure, the league average was a ratio of 1.606, with the Boston Bruins (1.637) ranking right above it and the Toronto Maple Leafs (1.494) right below it.

Here are the top five and the bottom five for 2010-11, via Zona:

Study: Who is the most efficient general manager in the NHL?

The full list is here.

A couple of Zona's notes:

Steve Yzerman's low-cost moves paid off for Tampa Bay last year - names like Moore, Bergenheim, Thompson, Jones, Downie, Lundin, Jones, and Purcell might not have been headliner signings, but Yzerman brought cheap and effective depth to a team loaded with stars and it paid off.

The New Jersey Devils should be concerned.  Prior to Ilya Kovalchuk(notes), they were one of the most efficient teams in the league.  Atlanta drops Kovalchuk and moves quite high in the rankings while New Jersey adds him and plummets to the bottom of the league.

It'll be interesting to see how things change for these two teams in 2011-12. The Devils managed to shed some cap payroll, going from $63.9 million last season to a current cap payroll of $58.4 million (via Cap Geek). The Lightning, meanwhile, increased payroll from $50.4 million last season to $59.3 million currently slated for this season — thank you, Steven Stamkos(notes) contract.

Last season, Zona broke down the cap efficiency averages for franchises going back to 2005 and Marginal Playoff Efficiency as well. He said an update to include last season's numbers is coming up, and we'll link when it goes live.

It's an noble attempt to quantify a GM's performance; and hey, maybe the NHL can adopt it as a way to help determine its GM of the year. Or just keep it as nebulously political. One of the two.

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