In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take a look at the 32 head coaches around the league and how comfortable they should be feeling in their position for the 2021-22 season.
In other words: The hot seat rankings. We placed the head coaches in different tiers ranging from the safest and more secure jobs, to the coaches that might be feeling some heat for one reason or another.
Where does each coach sit this week?
To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!
Tier 1A: Not going anywhere. New guys (Everybody gets a season)
1. Dave Hakstol, Seattle Kraken. Whether or not you like the decision to go with Hakstol is irrelevant. He is a first-year coach for a first-year expansion team. Expectations for this season are low and that makes him probably the safest coach in the league.
2. Andre Tourigny, Arizona Coyotes. Similar to Hakstol in the sense that he is a first-year coach on a team that is actively gutting its roster and reducing expectations for this season. Is he the right coach long-term? We will find out. But he is safe this year.
3. Brad Larsen, Columbus Blue Jackets. The big challenge here is what can he get out of Patrik Laine.
4. Gerard Gallant, New York Rangers. He has the most pressure on him among the new coaches because the Rangers have such high expectations this season, but he is also the most proven and best coach of the bunch.
Tier 1B: Not going anywhere. Top coaches, performance related
5. Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning. In his eight seasons with the Lightning the team has reached the Eastern Conference Finals/Semifinals five times, played for the Stanley Cup Final three times, and has won the Cup in each of the past two seasons. As safe as you can get for an established coach.
6. Rod Brind’Amour, Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes are one of the best teams in the league under Brind’Amour and he just signed a new contract extension. He is safe.
7. Barry Trotz, New York Islanders. He is, quite honestly, the face of the Islanders right now and has helped completely change the culture of the team. He is going nowhere no matter what happens this season.
[Related: Every free agent signing by all 32 NHL teams]
8. Jared Bednar, Colorado Avalanche. If Colorado fizzles out in the First or Second Round maybe the Avs consider a change after the season, but I can not envision an in-season change.
9. Joel Quenneville, Florida Panthers. The Panthers have real expectations this season and a roster that can compete, and that can be dangerous for a coach if the team underachieves. But Quenneville’s resume and track record keeps him safe.
10. Dean Evason, Minnesota Wild. It would take a massive regression and absolutely disastrous season for a change here.
Tier 2: Extremely safe, probably not going anywhere
11. Dominique Ducharme, Montreal Canadiens. That Cup Final run is going to buy him a lot of time even if the Canadiens struggle to repeat that success this season. And they probably will.
12. Bruce Cassidy, Boston Bruins. Cassidy has been great for the Bruins and the team should still be a contender. Are you going to get a better coach than him right now?
13. Peter Laviolette, Washington Capitals. The Capitals are still a Cup contender and they do not really make knee-jerk reactions with their coaches.
14. Peter DeBoer, Vegas Golden Knights. The results should be good enough to keep him secure but the Golden Knights have proven to be the most ruthless, cutthroat organization in the league when it comes to making changes.
15. Darryl Sutter, Calgary Flames. Sutter is a giant in the Flames organization and they just brought him back. I am not ready to say he is completely safe, but it would be a shock if he went anywhere anytime soon.
Tier 3: Getting a little warmer
16. Craig Berube, St. Louis Blues. Not that Berube has done a bad job, but every year a coach gets away from their championship the shorter the leash gets. The Blues have lost in the first-round two years in a row. Maybe he is not in danger yet, but he could be getting close.
17. Mike Sullivan, Pittsburgh Penguins. He has been a wildly successful coach in Pittsburgh, but their past three playoff performances have been disappointing and the current front office did not hire him. They have no loyalty to him.
18. Lindy Ruff, New Jersey Devils. It would be a major shock if Ruff got fired within his first two years, but the Devils spent major money this offseason and have an emerging superstar in Jack Hughes. They need to show some real progress this season.
19. Paul Maurice, Winnipeg Jets. He is one of the longest tenured coaches in the league with a mixed bag of results. He always seems to be on the hot seat, but the Jets winning a round in the playoffs probably bought him some time.
20. Rick Bowness, Dallas Stars. There should be reasonably high expectations in Dallas this season, and if they fall short early in the season a change seems at least like it could be something that is discussed.
21. John Hynes, Nashville Predators. The Predators’ roster is weaker than it was a year ago and they needed Juuse Saros turning into superman to get into the playoffs.
22. Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Maple Leafs. It feels like everybody’s seat in Toronto is getting warmer. The coach. The general manager. Star players. Time to do something.
23. Don Granato, Buffalo Sabres. He is entering his first full season, but the Sabres seem like they are set to embark on a disastrous season. I am not sure he will be the fall guy for it. But you never know.
24. Travis Green, Vancouver Canucks. He just signed a multi-year extension this offseason. They like him and think they are closer to competing than they might actually be. This seems like an “after the season” change if one happens.
25. Todd McLellan, Los Angeles Kings. The Kings should not have any delusions about competing this season, but they should expect some progress.
Tier 4: Danger zone
26. Dave Tippett, Edmonton Oilers. He is highly regarded, yes. But the Oilers have two MVPs in the primes of their careers and could not even win a single playoff game against the Jets. Nobody’s job in this organization is — or should be — totally secure.
27. Alain Vigneault, Philadelphia Flyers. To be honest, this probably depends on which version of Carter Hart the Flyers get this season.
28. D.J. Smith, Ottawa Senators. I really have no idea what sort of coach Smith is and neither do you, mostly because he has been given the task of leading a young, rebuilding team that is starting from scratch. Tough situation to win in, and the losing will almost certainly continue this season.
29. Jeff Blashill, Detroit Red Wings. Like Smith it is impossible to accurately evaluate Blashill because of the rosters he has had to work with. Still, in six years the Red Wings have one playoff appearance with him and have missed the playoffs five years in a row and almost certainly going on six years. Not many coaches get to keep coaching a team that long.
30. Dallas Eakins, Anaheim Ducks. The problem in Anaheim is probably more centered on the front office, but GM Bob Murray seems invincible. That is probably bad news for the coach.
31. Bob Boughner, San Jose Sharks. The Sharks are trending in the wrong direction, have a lot of problems on the roster, some bad contracts, and have missed the playoffs two years in a row. Recipe for a change if things start slow.
32. Jeremy Colliton, Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks’ only playoff appearance the past four years (including three with Colliton) was the bubble season where they had the NHL’s 23rd-best record. They spent a ton of money this offseason, increased expectations, and still have a thin roster that looks nothing like a contender. Classic case of a team that might “disappoint” and make an early change.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.