Tarik El-Bashir of The Athletic is reporting that the Washington Capitals have been quiet about their coaching search to date, but some details have started to filter through. The names El-Bashir has been hearing are Spencer Carbery, Jeff Halpern, Brad Shaw, Todd Nelson, and one former Capitals head coach in Bruce Boudreau. El-Bashir opens his article by stating that his list of candidates in not exhaustive, it is just the list of potential coaching candidates that he has heard rumblings about.
El-Bashir has heard from sources that current Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach Spencer Carbery is one of general manager Brian MacLellan’s preferred candidates. Sources tell El-Bashir that Carbery was in town today to meet with MacLellan and it is no surprise given his history with the franchise. Carbery coached Washington’s AHL affiliate the Hershey Bears from 2018-2021. On top of this Washington’s once daunted powerplay has slipped to average the past few seasons and Carbery comes with a track record of coaching dominant power play units. He has coached the Maple Leafs powerplay to a 24.1 percent success rate the past two seasons, which ranks second in the NHL during that time.
Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach Jeff Halpern has a similar story to that of Carbery. He has been employed by the Capitals twice before as a player and was the team’s captain at one point as well. He has also been running a very successful Lightning powerplay unit the past few seasons and has been a big contributor to their success the past half decade as they’ve reached three finals and captured two Stanley Cups.
Philadelphia Flyers associate coach Brad Shaw is also a former Capitals player having dressed in four games. It was reported yesterday that Shaw is also in the running for the Anaheim Ducks head coaching job. It is believed that Shaw has already been interviewed by MacLellan and is still very much in play. Shaw has been a head coach in the NHL previously as he took over mid-season for the New York Islanders back in 2006, however he has been an associate and an assistant coach ever since.
Todd Nelson’s name coming up makes a lot of sense given that he is the current coach of Washington’s AHL affiliate, and he currently has the club in the Eastern Conference finals. Nelson also has a Calder Cup on his resume having guided Grand Rapids to the league title in 2017. Nelson comes with some NHL head coaching experience as he spent 51 games behind the bench of the Edmonton Oilers in a previous stint after he replaced Dallas Eakins. Nelson coached the Oilers to a sixth-place finish in the Pacific Division that year going 17-25-9.
Bruce Boudreau guided the Capitals to an incredible run of regular season success including a Presidents Trophy in 2010, however he could never get the team over the hump as they were unable to advance past the second round while he was at the helm. Boudreau coached Washington to four straight division titles but was let go in 2011-12. He garnered a ton of sympathy from the hockey world this past season as he was coaching in his final days for the Vancouver Canucks. Boudreau was left in a precarious position with the club as reports leaked that the Canucks were looking to let him go, a move the team ultimately did make. Despite this, Boudreau has stated a desire to keep coaching, however a source close to him says that he has not yet heard from the Capitals about their coaching vacancy making a reunion appear unlikely at this time.
El-Bashir states that he believes that there are other names in play, however he has only heard about these names thus far. Washington will also need to fill several assistant coach roles once they have selected a new bench boss.