Heading into the playoffs, there was a lot of talk of how Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz could be one of the biggest names on the free agent market this summer. Trotz is in the final year of his career with the Capitals, and has notoriously failed in the postseason despite excellent regular season records. Well, Trotz and the Capitals are failures no more in the playoffs after securing their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, and GM Brian MacLellan today told media including Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press that the team will try to get an extension done with their head coach. Tom Gulitti of NHL.com adds that Trotz wants to come back and has already begun talking about a new contract.
Trotz, 55, already sits fifth on the all-time wins list among NHL coaches, but had a history of coming up short in the playoffs. While he still has a 55-58 record in the postseason, the Stanley Cup victory ensures that he’ll go down as one of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport when he decides to retire. Should he come back with the Capitals—or anyone else for that matter—next season, he’ll likely pass Al Arbour for fourth on the wins list and would pull close to Ken Hitchcock with another 50-win season. That expertise though would make him highly sought after on the open market, to the point where other teams may fire the incumbent to get him behind the bench.
The most interesting destination of course would be the New York Islanders, who recently fired head coach Doug Weight after just a single season on the job. While the New York Rangers, Dallas Stars, Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes have already hired their replacements, several other coaches will enter the year on the hot seat. Trotz could be a potential replacement for any one of them, but only if the Capitals let him become a free agent this summer. While it sounds like they’ll try their best to extend him, you never know how negotiations will go. Should Trotz demand a contract similar to the ones given to Mike Babcock in Toronto or Joel Quenneville in Chicago, perhaps the Capitals decide that money could be better spent elsewhere.
After all, it wasn’t so long ago that the team was considering moving on from Trotz. Many believed that had he failed to accomplish the feat of winning a Stanley Cup this season—even if that meant losing game seven of the finals—he would not be returning to the team next year. Perhaps that will still happen, or Trotz will welcome a new challenge in a new city.