The Jets (52-20-10) had the best regular season in their history and advanced to the Western Conference Final for the first time. Cheveldayoff, hired as GM on June 8, 2011, soon after Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg, helped retain important players (defensemen Dustin Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom, forwards Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler) and drafted 11 of the 24 players who have played for the Jets during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That group includes Winnipeg’s top picks in six consecutive drafts: forwards Mark Scheifele (2011), Nikolaj Ehlers (2014), Kyle Connor (2015) and Patrik Laine (2016), and defensemen Jacob Trouba (2012) and Josh Morrissey (2013).
Prior to the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 26, Winnipeg acquired forward Paul Stastny and defenseman Joe Morrow, who have scored four game-winning goals in the playoffs (Stastny 3, Morrow 1).
Cheveldayoff is a first-time finalist.
The Golden Knights (51-24-7) are the first modern-era expansion team from any of the four major North American pro sports leagues to start from scratch and win its division. Vegas, which is playing Winnipeg in the Western Conference Final, is the third team in NHL history to win multiple playoff series in its inaugural season.
McPhee helped build the Golden Knights largely through the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, less than three months before the opening of training camp. Eleven Golden Knights had NHL career highs in points, including their top five scorers: William Karlsson (78), Jonathan Marchessault (75), David Perron (66), Reilly Smith (60) and Erik Haula (55).
McPhee was a finalist with the Washington Capitals in 2009-10, when he helped assemble the team that won the Presidents’ Trophy.
The Lightning (54-23-5) set their records for wins (54) and points (113) and won their first division title (Atlantic) since 2004. They are in the Eastern Conference Final for the third time in four seasons.
Yzerman assembled a roster of homegrown players including forwards Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos; defenseman Victor Hedman, a Norris Trophy finalist; and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, a Vezina Trophy finalist. Tampa Bay traded for rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, signed free agent forward Chris Kunitz and defenseman Dan Girardi, and acquired defenseman Ryan McDonagh and forward J.T. Miller in a trade with the New York Rangers on Feb. 26.
Yzerman is a finalist for the third time. He won the award in 2014-15 after finishing second in 2010-11, his first season as Lightning GM.