While most teams actively seeking a new head coach are ones with clear vacancies in that position, it seems there is one team exploring the top end of the head coaching market without having officially parted ways with their prior head coach. The President’s Trophy-winning Florida Panthers, who have Jack Adams Award finalist Andrew Brunette as their interim head coach, are reportedly “active” in the head coaching market, interviewing the market’s top candidates such as Barry Trotz, Pete DeBoer, Rick Tocchet, and Travis Green, per Frank Seravalli. Seravalli also adds that the team has “possibly” interviewed former Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice as well.
The Panthers interviewing head coaching candidates without giving a clear word on Brunette’s future is a somewhat puzzling move. While Brunette has faced his fair share of loud criticism following his team’s swift playoff exit at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning, pivoting back to Brunette as their permanent coach after interviewing so many other possible candidates would certainly be awkward for the Panthers to do. Lightning series aside, Brunette delivered a President’s Trophy to Florida and their first playoff series victory since 1996. What sort of ground will Brunette be standing on next season if he does ultimately become the Panthers’ full-time head coach? What kind of leash would he be given, knowing that they were “actively,” according to Seravalli, exploring other options? Now, as TSN’s Darren Dreger puts it, Brunette is “in limbo” regarding his future in Florida. It’s a difficult situation and one that likely won’t be solved until we get more clarity from GM Bill Zito and the rest of Panthers management on the direction of the franchise.
Now, for some other notes regarding teams across the NHL:
- Vegas Golden Knights forward Keegan Kolesar has an important summer ahead of him, as the pending restricted free agent has new contract negotiations and a potential arbitration date to focus on in the coming months. Now, you can add injury rehab as well. According to Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon, as relayed by The Athletic’s Jesse Granger, Kolesar underwent surgery recently and is “rehabbing fine.” This injury news comes after a season where Kolesar was one of the few Golden Knights able to stay consistently healthy. Kolesar was one of only seven Golden Knights to cross the 70 games played plateau, and provided physical bottom-six play. The surgery could complicate things a bit, but Kolesar should still earn a decent raise from his $725k cap hit.
- The Edmonton Oilers’ affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors, announced five AHL signings yesterday. They are as follows: F Luke Esposito, D Yanni Kaldis, F Dino Kambeitz, D Alex Peters, and D Darien Kielb. All have signed one-year, one-way (AHL) deals, except for Kambeitz, who signed a two-year deal, and Kielb, who signed a two-way, AHL/ECHL deal. None of the five players have NHL experience, altough Peters, 25, was a third-round pick of the Dallas Stars in 2014. Perhaps the most significant name here is Kaldis, who led Condors defensemen in scoring in just his second AHL season. The 26-year-old Montreal native had seven goals and 31 points in 53 games, skating 18:30 time on ice per game.