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Reflections on Dudley's Previous GM Stops

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One nice feature of being on site like SB Nation is that we have knowledgable writers who cover all 30 teams. Many of these writers are long time followers of their particular NHL club. Thus, I thought it would be interesting to get a quick summary of each writer's thought about Rick Dudley's prior tenure with their particular organization.

In each of these cities Dudley was GM for a brief period of time and in each case the club was in the building phase rather than the contending phase--for the most part the memories are not overly fond.

Some Thrashers fans referred to Waddell as "Dealin Don" and Rick Dudley is also known for swinging some big trades.Twice he traded out of the #1 overall draft spot. He dealt away former #1 pick Alexandre Daigle. He attempted to trade a young Vincent Lecavalier while in Tampa. 

Without further delay, here are the comments of our fellow SB Nation bloggers:

Ottawa Senators, PeterR of Silver Seven blog:

Assessing the success Rick Dudley had as general manager of the Ottawa Senators is a pretty tough task, because the window is such a small one: he was only around for a season. That fact may, in truth, be as good an indication of his performance as anything I could say, but it's worth noting that he was replaced by Marshall Johnston, who's well-respected across the league.

Dudley came on board in Ottawa just after the 1998 Entry Draft, so you can probably get an idea of how well his scouts performed based on the 1999 Entry Draft; the one when the Sens drafted Martin Havlat (26 overall) and Chris Kelly (94 overall) plus a few guys who had a cup of coffee in the NHL. It's not the Senators' best draft ever, but it's certainly one of the top ten (so far) or so in franchise history.

As for his trades, Dudley pulled off one notable one, dumping Alexandre Daigle in exchange for Vaclav Prospal and Pat Falloon. Daigle's trade value had significantly dropped, so Dudley probably did pretty well for himself in this deal; although Falloon was a write-off, Prospal gave the Sens more than Daigle offered the Flyers.

As I said, it's tough to judge his performance because there was such a short window, but I certainly wouldn't call it a disaster. I would say he was a good GM, but I'm glad we moved away from him and towards someone with the resume that Marshall Johnston has.
Comment: The 1999 Draft was one of the weakest in NHL history. My quantitative ranking system rates the Senators 8th out of 28 NHL teams in 1999.
Tampa Bay Lightning. John Fontana Raw Charge blog

Dudley is profoundly under appreciated for what he did with the Lightning, but he also has some infamy about him.  This is the guy who brought in Martin St. Louis -- signed for the league minimum for two seasons.  He also knew the value of strong goaltending and took a risk bringing in contract-holdout Nikolai Khabibulin from the Coyotes.  He's got a love for European / Russian hockey players but how well those guys play the North American game doesn't always translate.

in 2001-02, leading to his resignation as GM, he attempted to trade disgruntled Vincent Lecavalier to the Toronto Maple Leafs.  In hindsight, one may see that as something that would be acceptable, but this was 2002.  Lecavalier was the face of the future, and to trade him for Maple Leaf spare parts did not get the approval of team president Ron Campbell or ownership.

Rick had an empty cupboard to work with when he arrived in Tampa.  He restocked it with assets.  Corey Sarich, Fredrik Modin, Dan Boyle...  All of those guys came in on his watch.  John Tortorella was promoted over Dudley's friend Steve Ludzik.

I believe Dudley is the first GM to trade the #1 overall pick in the draft.  He took big risks with the guys he did select with his picks,  and while some of them did crack the NHL, few stood out.
Comment: The Dan Boyle trade and the Martin St. Louis signing were simply enormous additions. These were two key players in the 2004 Stanley Cup team who were acquired for almost nothing. The St. Louis and Boyle moves could be two of most favorable transactions in the last decade. An average drafting team with payroll constraints MUST make a few terrific moves like these if they hope to contend. The two Tampa drafts rate as terrible (2000, 29th) and slightly above average (2001 12th).

Florida Panthers: Donny Rivette Litter Box Cats
Dudley was GM of the Panthers from 2002 through 2004. His first pick was Bouwmeester in '02, for whom he traded down from the first to third picks in order to acquire further assets (Nash and Lehtonen went 1-2. Only in Florida). Peter Taticek was tabbed 9th overall. Gregory Campbell was grabbed in the third round.
In '03 he pulled another trade-down at the draft, going again from first-to-third while taking Nathan Horton (MA Fleury and Eric Staal went 1-2). Anthony Stewart was Florida's other pick in the first round, at #25. Others: Kreps at 38, Glass at 265. Quite the mess. LOTS of throwaway pics, too many to mention. The trade-downs alone are worthy of healthy debate. So in a nutshell, it was not a memorable tenure.
Comment: I think Donny might be a bit too harsh. Most fans compare a draft class to their ideal vision and not to what other teams found in that particular year. If you compare Florida to the other 30 teams they come out as above average all three summers Dudley was GM (2002, 10th best; 2003, 14th; 2004, 5th best).


My thanks to our three writers for firing up the Way-Back Machine and giving us their thoughts. We see that Dudley is aggressive in making trades. The six drafts he presided over as GM ranked: 8th, 29th, 12th, 10th, 14th, and 5th using my quantitative rating system.