NHL Power Rankings: Coaching hot seat tiers for 2021-22 season

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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.

Flyers trade Pride-night boycott defenseman Provorov in 3-team deal

flyers trade
Dennis Schneidler/USA TODAY Sports

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Flyers have traded Ivan Provorov, sending away the defenseman who boycotted the team’s Pride night as part of a three-team trade that included the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Los Angeles Kings.

The seventh overall pick of the 2015 draft, the 26-year-old Provorov lands in Columbus and is set to enter the fifth season of a $40.5 million, six-year contract. He was the centerpiece Tuesday of the first major move under new Flyers’ leadership.

There were plenty of moving parts in the three-team deal.

— Philadelphia traded Provorov and forward Hayden Hodgson to Los Angeles in exchange for goalie Cal Petersen, defenseman Sean Walker, defenseman Helge Grans and the Kings’ 2024 second-round pick. The Kings lost in the first round of the playoffs.

— Columbus acquired defenseman Kevin Connauton from Philadelphia in exchange for a 2023 first-round pick (22nd overall) and a conditional second-round pick in either the 2024 or 2025 NHL Draft. Columbus acquired Provorov from Los Angeles in exchange for Connauton.

The Flyers already hold the No. 7 pick in this season’s draft and now also have the 23rd pick as they start accumulating key assets for long-range success in what is expected to be a deep draft.

Flyers general manager Danny Briere had said no player was untouchable after the Flyers missed the playoffs for the third straight season and went to work with the Stanley Cup Final still underway. The Flyers named broadcaster Keith Jones team president last month and he is still working the Final for TNT. But it’s clear the overdue rebuild is underway for a franchise that hasn’t won a Stanley Cup in 48 years.

“We felt that the picks and the direction that we wanted to go in, it was really enticing, very exciting,” Briere said. “We have a chance to really start building the team the way we wanted. The right way.”

Briere said the Flyers are “open for business” this summer and that included potentially listening to offers for No. 1 goalie Carter Hart. Coach John Tortorella, Briere and Jones have all tempered offseason expectations for any fan looking for a quick fix. The trio all insist the Flyers have a cohesive plan for the future.

Provorov had 65 goals and 217 points in 532 career games with the Flyers. The Russian was widely criticized in January when he cited his Russian Orthodox religion as the reason he did not participate in pregame warmups when the Flyers wore Pride-themed jerseys and used sticks wrapped in rainbow Pride tape.

“I respect everybody’s choices,” Provorov said after the game. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.”

Now, he’s traded during Pride month.

Briere said the backlash over Pride night had nothing to do with trading Provorov.

The Blue Jackets, who missed the playoffs this season, were ready to take a flier on a defenseman seemingly with many productive years ahead.

“Improving our blue line has been a priority for us and acquiring Ivan gives us an established left-shot defenseman who is still a young player with his best seasons in front of him,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. “He immediately improves our group on defense as he is durable, has great skill, skates well, is an excellent passer with an accurate shot and can effectively play at both ends of the ice.”

Provorov said at the end of the season he wasn’t necessarily happy the Flyers planned to rebuild but understood the decision. Briere declined to say if Provorov wanted out of Philadelphia.

“I wouldn’t say it’s the most positive news you can hear, but there’s a bright future here, and there’s a lot of great players that can keep growing,” Provorov said in April. “Obviously, it depends on how quick everybody gets better and how quickly the team game gets better. I think that’s what determines the length of the rebuild.”

Turns out, the potential success out of the haul the Flyers got for Provorov just may determine the length of the rebuild.

Golden Knights take 2-0 lead in Stanley Cup Final with 7-2 win over Panthers

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

LAS VEGAS — No team in over 25 years has been more dominant than the Vegas Golden Knights through the first two games of a Stanley Cup Final.

They have outscored the Florida Panthers by eight goals, including a 7-2 victory in Game 2 that put the Knights two wins from the first championship in the franchise’s short six-year history.

It will take a rare rally for the Panthers to come back as the series shifts to Florida for Game 3 on Thursday. Teams that took a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final are 31-3 in the expansion era, but the Panthers opened the playoffs by storming back from 3-1 down to beat the heavily favored Boston Bruins.

Florida will have to significantly up its level of play to beat a Vegas team that won by three goals on Saturday and then five in this game. The last team to win the first two games of a Cup Final by more than eight combined goals was the 1996 Colorado Avalanche – who outscored the Panthers by nine.

“I think our depth has been a strength all year,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It is the biggest reason we are still here, why we beat Winnipeg, Edmonton, Dallas. I just feel that we have the best team from player one through 20.”

Jonathan Marchessault scored twice for the Knights and started an early blitz that chased Sergei Bobrovsky, the NHL’s hottest postseason goalie.

Marchessault also had an assist to finish with three points. His 12 postseason goals set a Golden Knights record, with all of them coming after the first round. The only player with more following the opening round was Pavel Bure, who scored 13 for Vancouver in 1994.

“They want to set the tone with being undisciplined like Game 1 and we set the tone back,” Marchessault said. “It was scoring that first goal there. But we’re still pretty far from our goal here.”

Brett Howden scored twice for the Knights, who also got goals from Alec Martinez, Nicolas Roy and Michael Amadio. Six players had at least two points for Vegas, all 18 Knights skaters were on the ice for even-strength goals and their nine goal scorers through the first two games are a Stanley Cup Final record. The Knights’ seven goals tied a franchise mark for a playoff game.

It was too much for Bobrovsky, who was removed 7:10 into the second period down 4-0. It was the fifth time in 12 games the Knights have chased the opposing goalie.

Bobrovsky, a two-time Vezina Trophy winner, carried Florida through the Eastern Conference playoffs. Coming into the Stanley Cup Final, he had won 11 of his past 12 starts with a 1.95 goals-against average and .942 save percentage during that stretch. But he’s given up eight goals in 87 minutes against Vegas, compiling a 5.52 GAA and .826 save percentage in the series.

“We can be a little better in front of our goaltender,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “I got him out to keep him rested.”

Matthew Tkachuk and Anton Lundell scored for Florida.

Adin Hill continued his stellar play in net with 29 saves for the Knights. Hill once again brought his feistiness as well as his A-game. He stopped Carter Verhaeghe on a breakaway in the first, and later that period hit Tkachuk, who was in his net, with his blocker and then slashed him with his stick.

“He’s been unreal for us,” Vegas forward William Carrier said. “He’s been unbelievable.”

A group of four fans behind one of the nets wore sweaters that spelled out his last name, and Hill has often received the loudest cheers from Knights fans, reminiscent of when Marc-Andre Fleury was in goal for Vegas in its first three seasons.

“It’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing hockey,” Hill said. “I’m just enjoying it, cherishing every day. It’s been awesome to be part of the journey with this team.”

The Knights were dominant early, taking a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Marchessault and Martinez. It was Vegas’ third game in a row with a power-play goal, its first such stretch since Christmas week.

The Panthers lost their biggest, toughest defenseman early in the game when Radko Gudas was injured on a hit by Vegas forward Ivan Barbashev. Gudas left 6:39 in and did not return.

That was one of several big hits by Barbashev, the Golden Knights’ biggest trade-deadline acquisition, a Stanley Cup champion with St. Louis in 2019. Barbashev broke the sternum of Colorado defenseman Samuel Girard during the playoffs last year, also on a clean hit.

Vegas had its own scare late in the second period when Jack Eichel was nailed in the right shoulder by Tkachuk. Eichel returned in the third and set up Marchessault’s second goal for his second assist of the game.

“We did a good job managing momentum tonight,” Eichel said. “And we got some timely goals.”

Ducks hire former Leafs, Islanders assistant Greg Cronin as head coach

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Anaheim Ducks have hired veteran NHL assistant and AHL head coach Greg Cronin to be their new head coach.

Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek announced the decision to hire the 60-year-old Cronin, who will be a first-time NHL head coach.

Cronin has 12 years of experience as an NHL assistant with the Toronto Maple Leafs and in two stints with the New York Islanders. The Massachusetts native has been the head coach of the AHL’s Colorado Eagles since 2018, and he spent six years as a collegiate head coach at Northeastern.

Verbeek called Cronin “the ideal fit” to take over a young, rebuilding team.

“I felt we needed a teacher of the finer points of the game, and someone who has worked extensively over time with talented young players, helping them develop into successful NHL players,” Verbeek said. “Greg has done all that and more.”

Cronin replaces Dallas Eakins, whose contract wasn’t renewed in April after the Ducks finished their fourth consecutive losing season of his tenure. Anaheim finished in last place in the overall NHL standings at 23-47-12.

The Ducks never finished higher than sixth in the Pacific Division during Eakins’ four years in charge. They’ve missed the playoffs in a franchise-record five straight seasons, and Anaheim was the NHL’s worst defensive team of the 21st century by several measures during the just-completed season.

Cronin takes over a struggling team that is still loaded with young talent, including the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft and a wealth of farm prospects seemingly ready to break into the NHL. Anaheim has a solid long-term base with playmaking center Trevor Zegras, two-time All-Star Troy Terry and promising forward Mason McTavish.

Cronin has never led an NHL bench, but he interviewed for the Boston Bruins’ vacancy a year ago.

He becomes only the Ducks’ fourth permanent head coach since Henry and Susan Samueli bought the franchise from Disney in 2005, joining Randy Carlyle, Bruce Boudreau and Eakins.

Canadiens sign Cole Caufield to 8-year, $62.8 million extension

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MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens signed Cole Caufield to an eight-year, $62.8 million contract extension.

The deal, which will pay the 22-year-old winger an average annual salary of $7.85 million, runs through the 2030-31 season.

Caufield scored 26 goals and added 10 assists in 46 games in 2022-23 before he underwent season-ending surgery on his right shoulder in February.

Despite missing nearly half the season, Caufield led the Canadiens in goals for the second consecutive season, tied with Nick Suzuki.

Montreal selected Caufield in the first round (15th overall) of the 2019 draft.

Since making his NHL debut in 2020-21, the forward has 84 points (53 goals, 31 assists) in 123 NHL games.