NHL Rumors: Odds of Hiring Dan Bylsma for Each Team Searching for Head Coach
Dozens of names have been tied to the group of job-seekers, and only four vacancies—Pittsburgh, Carolina, Vancouver and Florida—currently offer opportunities.
For three of those clubs, however, Bylsma nonetheless instantly jumps to the top of the list of possibilities.
Bylsma posted a 252-117-32 record in his first NHL coaching stint with the Penguins, leading the team to the 2009 Stanley Cup title and to the playoffs all six seasons in western Pennsylvania. While his failure to get the superstar-laden Pens back to the Final eventually led to his demise, it also now leaves him with a stunningly impressive resume for three teams that missed the postseason in 2013-14.
As CBS Sports' Brian Stubits wrote Monday, "He could very well have his pick of the three destinations."
What odds do each of the Panthers, Canucks and Hurricanes currently have of landing Bylsma as head coach? A rumor compilation and analysis for each franchise lies on the following slides.
New Canucks GM Jim Benning was undoubtedly intrigued by Bylsma's dismissal, along with probably every other executive in the NHL.
This past Saturday, Benning told Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun, "We’ve been in meetings all day, so we haven’t had a chance to really sit down and talk about it. But he’s an interesting name, for sure."
Bylsma would join a Canucks franchise at rock bottom—one that collapsed down the stretch to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008, cleaned out the entire coaching and front office staff and is now mired in Ryan Kesler trade rumors, according to Mark Spector of Sportsnet.
But other insiders have been quick to express skepticism in ties between Bylsma and Vancouver.
TSN's Bob McKenzie (via Toronto Maple Leafs blog Hope in the Big Smoke) claimed that "some people are going to say that Bylsma becomes a top candidate for [Vancouver] but I don't think that's 100 percent the case." Meanwhile, CBC's Elliotte Friedman wrote this weekend that "of all the open markets, [Vancouver is] the one I'm not convinced chases Bylsma or interests him as much."
While the former Pens boss will certainly remain on the Canucks' radar, he may be only a second option behind oft-connected Texas Stars head coach Willie Desjardins.
Likelihood of Hiring Bylsma: 25 percent
The Carolina Hurricanes' coaching search has yielded much speculation but little concrete information under the closed tent of new GM Ron Francis.
Candidates ranging from Jacques Martin to Ulf Samuelsson (in my opinion, a poor idea) to Willie Desjardins (a good idea) have been connected, but not substantially, to the team's search. Bylsma certainly flaunts a more impressive resume than any of the three, but has he jumped to the top of the list?
No one is sure.
Bylsma managed Pittsburgh's glut of centers effectively, a success that could increase Carolina's interest. The 'Canes are loaded with six natural centers (Eric and Jordan Staal, Jeff Skinner, Elias Lindholm, Riley Nash and pending UFA Manny Malhotra) but are much shallower on the wings.
Francis told Luke DeCock of the News & Observer that he has interviewed "between six and 10" candidates. However, TSN reporter Bob McKenzie reported last week (via Hope in the Big Smoke) that "the Hurricanes are keeping their cards close to the vest."
Carolina's interest in and chances with Bylsma are almost entirely uncertain.
Likelihood of Hiring Bylsma: 30 percent
If the Pittsburgh pressure to not only make the playoffs but also excel in the playoffs overwhelmed Bylsma in the end, a move to the Florida Panthers would present him with the exact opposite situation.
The Cats have qualified for the postseason in just one of the last 13 seasons and are largely void of any playoff experience anywhere on the roster. GM Dale Tallon has been active each offseason since joining the club in 2010; adding a big-name coach like Bylsma to his pitch could lure better free agents to South Florida.
A clear line between Bylsma and the Panthers has been well established by recent reports.
George Richards of the Miami Herald tweeted that Bylsma thinks the Panthers are "waiting on him," while Harvey Fialkov of the Sun Sentinel reported that Bylsma has met or will be meeting with the team on Tuesday or Wednesday. William DePaoli of InsidePittsburghSports.com claimed that Bylsma "wants the Panthers job."
If Bylsma wishes to get a fresh, pressure-free start with a team attempting the meteoric rise accomplished by the Penguins (prior to Bylsma's arrival) a decade ago, Florida is certainly the place to go.
Likelihood of Hiring Bylsma: 45 percent