One by one, NHL teams that either had coaching vacancies or were thought to be considering changes are cementing their staffs for next season.
The Sharks, though, are still apparently in full search mode, and don't seem to be in any rush. The team remains without a head coach, or any coaching staff at all, after Todd McLellan and all of his assistants (other than Larry Robinson, who moved into the front office full-time) were relieved on April 20.
- Mike Babcock landed in Toronto last week in the most notable coaching move of the offseason. Although that leaves a vacancy in Detroit, AHL coach Jeff Blashill is the most likely replacement there.
- Buffalo could be closing in on Dan Bylsma, with Yahoo Sports’ Greg Wyshynski calling it a “seemingly inevitable marriage.” Bylsma has already spoken with Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on at least one occasion, but if the Sabres and Sharks both want him, owner Terry Pegula will almost certainly outbid San Jose’s Hasso Plattner for his services.
- McLellan moved on to Edmonton, where he signed a reported five-year, $15 million deal to compete in the Pacific Division with potential future star Connor McDavid against his former employer for years to come.
- The Flyers, who were reportedly interested in McLellan at one point, made the most surprising bench move when they named North Dakota’s Dave Hakstol as their new coach despite Hakstol having no NHL experience.
- St. Louis agreed to a one-year contract extension with Ken Hitchcock, announced on Tuesday, while Boston’s Claude Julien remains as the Bruins’ coach at present.
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There is still no shortage of candidates for San Jose. Peter DeBoer, Adam Oates and Randy Carlyle are the most recognizable names that have been mentioned, with DeBoer the most likely of that trio and Carlyle the least likely.
Others like Treny Yawney and Kevin Dineen, assistant coaches for Anaheim and Chicago, respectively, could enter the mix once their seasons are over. Yawney, a former assistant under McLellan, hasn’t yet been approached by the Sharks according to the Los Angeles Times.
Or, perhaps the Sharks could make a similar move as the Flyers, and hire a coach out of the NCAA. David Quinn from Boston University is a name garnering some attention, including from Sportsnet.ca’s Elliotte Friedman, who recently mentioned him as a candidate for the position with the Sharks. Quinn, 48, has been the head coach at Boston University for the past two years, coaching future Sabres draft pick Jack Eichel last season.
Unlike Hakstol, though, Quinn has some pro experience, as an assistant with the Colorado Avalanche for one season in 2012-13, and as head coach of AHL Lake Erie (Colorado’s affiliate) for three seasons prior. A former first round pick of the Minnesota North Stars in 1984, a medical condition cut short his playing days.
Dave Lowry, a former NHL forward (including three seasons in San Jose) currently coaching in the WHL, is another name that has been floated. He’s never been an NHL head coach, but served as an assistant in Calgary for three seasons.
There are sure to be other names on Wilson’s list that aren't yet public. By his count, he interviewed 21 candidates before choosing McLellan in 2009.
The Sharks, Sabres, Red Wings and Devils are the only teams currently without a head coach.