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Barry Trotz Is Better Candidate Than Dan Bylsma for Carolina Hurricanes Coach

VANCOUVER, CANADA - MARCH 14:   Head coach Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators looks on from the bench during their NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena March 14, 2013 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver won 7-4.(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images
Mark JonesSenior Analyst IMay 21, 2014

Last Friday's reports that Dan Bylsma would be fired from the Pittsburgh Penguins' head coaching position sent an earthquake rumbling through the Carolina Hurricanes' coaching search.

Even after such claims proved false, Bylsma has remained the assumed leading candidate in the Hurricanes' search. The 43-year-old boss, after all, has experienced tremendous regular-season success in Pittsburgh, leading the Penguins to more than 100 points prorated in all six of his partial or full campaigns there.

But Barry Trotz, who was fired this offseason after a steady 15-year tenure with the Nashville Predators, may well be a more sensible, if less sexy, hiring.

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 25:  Head Coach Dan Bylsma of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks on from the bench during the game against the Phoenix Coyotes on March 25, 2014 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Gett
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Both coaches boast fairly impressive resumes.

Bylsma led the Pens to a Stanley Cup title in 2009 and won the Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year) in 2011; Trotz, 51, took a small-market, offensively undermanned Preds squad to the playoffs seven of the last 10 years.

The two respective coaches experienced such success, however, with two drastically different teams on the ice in front of them.

Bylsma coached behind the superstar power of such hockey icons as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang, Paul Martin and Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh's team payroll has been among the seven most expensive in the NHL for all five of Bylsma's full campaigns, including the league's most expensive this past season.

Trotz, conversely, was annually forced to make do with one of the most talent-lacking forward corps, featuring less-than-famous leaders like Martin Erat, David Legwand, Mike Fisher and Patric Hornqvist. The Preds' payroll has been in the bottom third of the league since 2007-08, when Capgeek first began keeping records, and was the NHL's eighth cheapest in 2013-14.

When evaluating the two coaches' success relative to the payroll (and, thus, general quality) of the team given to them, the results are rather eye-opening.

Dan Bylsma's Success vs. Payroll
SeasonPointsPayroll (in millions)Points/Million
2013-14109$69.61.57
2012-13*72$39.21.84
2011-12108$64.21.68
2010-11106$61.71.72
2009-10101$56.81.78
Total496$291.51.70
Capgeek.com
Barry Trotz's Success vs. Payroll
SeasonPointsPayroll (in millions)Points/Million
2013-1488$59.41.48
2012-13*41$31.41.30
2011-12104$52.21.99
2010-1199$50.91.94
2009-10100$44.22.26
Total432$238.11.81
Capgeek.com

Indeed, Trotz's Predators have actually earned more points in the standings per million dollars in salary-cap hit than Bylsma's Penguins have over the past half-decade.

Despite a recent surge, Carolina's spending has mirrored Nashville's much more closely than Pittsburgh's over the years, as well.

Trotz has been criticized as too conservative, focusing on defense too highly over offense. Yet again, his assigned roster comes into play: The abilities of defenseman Shea Weber and goaltender Pekka Rinne shine brightly over the Predators' aforementioned cast of forwards.

In 2013-14, the 'Canes spent $39 million on their forwards and averaged 2.50 goals per game; the Preds spent $33.0 million and averaged 2.61 goals per game.

Said Trotz in a May 13 interview with Josh Cooper of USA Today:

My situation is I've spoken to a couple of teams. They are in a process of getting their hockey operations in order, everything from a general manager search to doing their draft meetings, so... myself and my representative have been keeping in contact.

It seems fair to say that the 'Canes should certainly be one of the teams in contact.

 

Mark Jones has been a Carolina Hurricanes Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report since 2009. Visit his profile to read more or follow him on Twitter.

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