The New Jersey Devils got off to another disappointingly slow start in 2019-20. After missing the playoffs in three of their first four seasons under head coach John Hynes, the team decided not to continue a fifth campaign with their bench boss. Hynes was fired on December 3rd with the Devils 9-13-4 on the season, a points percentage of .423. Assistant Alaine Nasreddine took over as head coach and the team did improve over the rest of the season, finishing with a .493 points percentage and just one win shy of a .500 record. However, the question is whether that improvement of .07 percentage points is enough for Nasreddine to keep his job. Or will the Devils focus more on their last-place finish in the Metropolitan Division and look elsewhere for a new head coach?
According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, Nasreddine is at least still in the mix for the position. Although New Jersey is facing down a very long off-season as one of the seven teams not to qualify for the expanded postseason (ironically Hynes’ Nashville Predators qualified), they are moving quickly in their coaching search. LeBrun reports that the Devils have spoken with eight to ten candidates for the position, but have whittled it down to just four finalists, one of which is Nasreddine. Who the remaining three names might be is unknown, but Gerard Gallant was one of the first to interview and has to be considered a front-runner given his recent success with the Vegas Golden Knights. Other big names available on the coaching market include Peter Laviolette, Mike Babcock, Bruce Boudreau, John Stevens, and Mike Yeo.
Potentially complicating the hiring process could be the status of the GM position. Tom Fitzgerald, like Nasreddine, is another assistant who was promoted but handed an interim tag this season. He has done an admirable job thus far, but his status remains in limbo. The team has reported talked to some outside candidates, including former Canucks GM Mike Gillis, and may be waiting to make a call on head coach until they know who is leading the organization as GM. However, they have plenty of time ahead of them to make these decisions, even though they appear to be making progress on their hunt for a head coach.