The Anaheim Ducks still don’t have a head coach for the 2019-20 season, even as the NHL Entry Draft is now just a few weeks away. The combine is already underway, meaning whoever does take the reins of the team next season won’t get to be part of the prospect interview process. While that obviously isn’t a devastating problem, it is somewhat uncommon, as seen by the several other vacancies that have been filled in recent weeks.
In a column today by Eric Stephens of The Athletic (subscription required) the top candidates for the job are examined, with special emphasis put on San Diego Gulls coach Dallas Eakins, and why he hasn’t yet been given the job despite many around the league expecting it to go to him since Randy Carlyle was fired mid-season. Stephens lists New York Islanders assistant coach Lane Lambert, Manitoba Moose head coach Pascal Vincent and Dallas Stars assistant Todd Nelson as other candidates that have been mentioned recently.
Bob McKenzie of TSN has also heard Nelson’s name, and reports that he will be interviewed this week for the job. It wouldn’t be the first time that Nelson has taken a job once ticketed for Eakins, as he was the coach that eventually took over when Eakins was fired in Edmonton back in 2014. Also of interest is another tweet from McKenzie, who suggests that there may be a job for former Los Angeles Kings head coach John Stevens in Dallas on Jim Montgomery’s staff. If Nelson does leave, that would provide an option for the Stars to replace him with.
The Ducks are coming off a disappointing season in which they finished 35-37-10. The core that led them to so many playoff runs is getting older—to the point where speculation of a Corey Perry buyout isn’t unreasonable—but there is help coming through the pipeline in the form of several top forward prospects. The job isn’t a full rebuild, but it also needs someone who can develop the next wave of talent quickly.