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Kevin: Trotz could be the NHL's hottest free agent this summer - Tues Buzz

May 9, 2022, 6:51 PM ET [23 Comments]
When the Washington Capitals fired coach Bruce Boudreau during the 2011-12 season, he was hired by Anaheim Ducks two days later. When the Ducks canned Boudreau in 2015, he only had to wait eight days to land with the Minnesota Wild.

Barry Trotz isn't likely to secure new employment that quickly, but is a short-odds bet to land one of the available NHL coaching vacancies.

New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello stunned the hockey world Monday by firing the highly respected Trotz. No Islanders successor has yet been named.

The Islanders missed the playoffs this season, but they had reached the Eastern Conference Final in each of the past two seasons. Trotz's Islanders ranked seventh this season with a 2.82 goals-against average, but were undermined by an anemic offense that ranked 22nd. Trotz is only four years removed from winning the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals.

"It would be a tremendous understatement to say that this was not a difficult decision to make," Lamoriello said. "It is my role to make the best decisions for the organization going forward, and I believe that this group of players needs a new voice.”

Within in a couple of hours of the Trotz decision, the Islanders were connected to rumors of either Paul Maurice and John Tortorella being his replacement. Claude Julien is another name that has emerged.

Trotz assistant Lane Lambert, who has been with him since his Nashville Predators days, would be the in-house favorite. He ran the Islanders impressively when Trotz came down with COVID-19 this season.

But historically Lamoriello has preferred big name hires. When he was with the New Jersey Devils, his coaches included Pat Burns, Herb Brooks, Larry Robinson and Jacques Lemaire. He went for Trotz when he went to the Islanders.

Maurice indicated he wasn't in a hurry to return to coaching when he resigned from the Winnipeg Jets this season.

The bigger question is where Trotz may end up. The Winnipeg Jets, Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks are actively looking for a coach. The Blackhawks have an interim coach Derek King and he is a candidate for the permanent job.

Here is why Trotz might fit with with teams looking for a coach, and some teams that may eventually be seeking a new coach:

Red Wings:
Detroit is the NHL's worst defensive team and Trotz is well-known for his strong defensive system. Trotz knows the Red Wings organization and its general manager Steve Yzerman because Trotz spent many years with the Nashville Predators when they were in the same division with Detroit. The Red Wings boast some talented younger players, such as Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond. That's a plus. But this is a rebuilding team and the Red Wings are two or three years out from contending. This probably wouldn't be Trotz's first choice

With his recent stints with the Islanders and Washington Capitals, Trotz is comfortable in the Metropolitan Division. He knows the teams and the players. It would be to his advantage to stay in the division. The Flyers are in a messy state, but they have the makings of a quality defense.Trotz coached Ryan Ellis in Nashville.

Jets: Trotz is from Manitoba. The Jets have a quality goalie in Connor Hellebuyck, and offensive potential. But this team seems to be missing a winning culture and chemistry. But isn't creating winning culture one of Trotz's specialties? Still, this team doesn't seem very appealing right now.

Blackhawks: This organization needs to do something bold to move beyond this sad season. A big name coach would certainly help. But they are also trying to rebuild on the fly. They have Patrick Kane, Seth Jones, but no proven goaltending. Won't be one of the favorites.

The field: Some teams haven't made a decision about their coaches. Is Lindy Ruff safe in New Jersey? Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald was Trotz's captain in Nashville. Already, we are hearing rumors Vegas will fire Pete DeBoer. If that happens, Trotz would seem like a good fit in Vegas where they have enough talent to make a run next season for the Cup. Maybe Trotz is the missing piece. The Golden Knights remember him from the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. The Florida Panthers also have an interim coach. If the Panthers lose in the first round, what happens there? The Oilers have an interim coach. If they lose in the first round, wouldn't GM Ken Holland working with Connor McDavid and Co.?

The field has the most intriguing teams.

The best strategy for Trotz is to be patient and wait to see what's available. If he waits, it feels as if he will have multiple options to consider.
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