As the 2022-23 NHL season approaches its end, fans eagerly anticipate the start of the next season and the chance to see their favourite teams hit the ice again. And while players get most of the attention, it’s essential to recognize the coaches guiding these teams to victory. In this article, we’ll look at some of the top candidates to win NHL Coach of the Year in 2023.
Andrew Brunette, New Jersey Devils
Andrew Brunette is a coach who could emerge as a top candidate for Coach of the Year in the 2023 NHL season. Brunette was recently named as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils, bringing a wealth of playing and coaching experience to the team.
Brunette played in the NHL for 16 seasons, scoring over 700 points in nearly 1,000 games. He retired from playing in 2012 and became an assistant coach with the Minnesota Wild for several seasons before joining the Devils.
Brunette’s experience as a player and coach could make him a perfect candidate to lead the Devils to success in 2023. The Devils have a young and talented roster, and if Brunette can help them develop and reach their potential, he could be in the running for Coach of the Year.
Jay Leach, Seattle Kraken
Jay Leach, an assistant coach with the Seattle Kraken, previously served as the head coach of AHL Providence Bruins for four years before joining the Kraken staff in 2021-22. He was considered for the head coaching position with the Boston Bruins following Bruce Cassidy’s departure in the summer, but Jim Montgomery was ultimately selected. According to a former colleague, Leach is personable and charismatic, possessing strong leadership qualities that make him an ideal front-facing representative for any organization.
Mike Carbery, Toronto Maple Leafs
Despite being just 41 years old, Mike Carbery is considered one of the most talked-about coaches in the industry. Even before joining the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team in the heart of the hockey media world, there were murmurs that Carbery could be a viable candidate for the Washington Capitals should they seek a change. The Capitals organization holds Carbery in high regard after he successfully led their top minor league affiliate, the Hershey Bears, for three years.
Carbery has had a meteoric rise, winning the ECHL Coach of the Year award in 2014 and following it up with the AHL Coach of the Year award in 2021. The Capitals attempted to keep him on, but Carbery opted to become an assistant coach with the Maple Leafs in 2021. Since taking charge of the power play, Toronto has boasted the second-best man-up unit in the league, just behind the Edmonton Oilers.
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Ryan Warsofsky, San Jose Sharks
Born in Massachusetts, Ryan Warsofsky began his coaching career in the Washington Capitals organization as a coach and director of hockey operations for the South Carolina StingRays in the ECHL. Warsofsky helped guide the team to two Calder Cup championships as a coach in the Carolina Hurricanes system.
One of these victories was particularly noteworthy as an assistant coach for the Charlotte Checkers, given the team’s limited budget. Warsofsky then took over as head coach of the Chicago Wolves after the Hurricanes changed their affiliates.
At 34, he became the youngest head coach in the AHL. Warsofsky joined the San Jose Sharks coaching staff under David Quinn this season, where he is responsible for leading the team’s penalty kill, which currently ranks as one of the top five units in the league.
Pascal Vincent, Columbus Blue Jackets
If Columbus decides to make a coaching change this summer, Pascal Vincent is expected to be among the top candidates for the job. Vincent, fluent in English and French, has succeeded at every level, winning the Coach of the Year in 2008 and the AHL’s most successful coach in 2018. Despite having previously served as a long-time assistant coach with the Winnipeg Jets, Vincent opted to take the helm of their AHL affiliate to gain more experience as a head coach.
According to one source, Vincent is “knowledgeable, truly hardworking, and well-spoken.” This source also noted that Vincent has a track record of effectively connecting with players.
Dave Hakstol, Seattle Kraken
Dave Hakstol is the new head coach of the Seattle Kraken, and he’ll have the unique challenge of leading an expansion team in their inaugural season. Hakstol has NHL coaching experience, having spent three seasons as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, but he’s been out of the league since 2019. If he can guide the Kraken to a successful first season, he could be a surprise candidate for Coach of the Year.
Many other coaches could make a case for Coach of the Year in 2023. Mike Sullivan has won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins and will be looking to get them back to the postseason after missing out in 2021. Brad Larsen has a history of success in the NHL and will look to turn around a struggling Columbus Blue Jackets team. And John Francis Tortorella will be looking to get the Philadelphia Flyers back to the playoffs after a disappointing 2022 season.
In the end, predicting who will win Coach of the Year is always tricky. The NHL season is long and gruelling, and a coach’s success will depend on a wide range of factors, from injuries to team chemistry to plain old luck. But the coaches listed above are all talented and experienced, and they’ll be looking to lead their teams to success in the upcoming seasons.