The Seattle Kraken are now officially a team in the National Hockey League. On Friday the Kraken submitted their final payment to the league, a whopping $650 million, to officially enter the league as it's 32nd franchise and are now able to discuss potential moves with rival general managers and potentially even make trade deals.
Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis will be leading the charge on that front but one curiosity of this whole situation has been the Kraken's lack of a coaching staff this late into the process, now with the 2021 NHL Entry Draft as well as the Kraken's own expansion draft only a few short months away. There are some good options out there including big names like that of Gerard Gallant or even Mike Babcock, but for one reason or another Francis and the Kraken have opted to bide their time thus far. This had led many to speculate that Francis will wait and see what coaches become available during the offseason and frankly that may have been a wise decision. There are a number of coaches currently coaching in the NHL who have some big question marks surrounding their future in the league, coaches that I believe could become serious candidates for the job should they move on from their current teams.
Today we will look at 5 current NHL coaches that could become the first bench boss of the Kraken, and I will be listening them in order of how likely I think the Kraken would be to sign them should they become free agents.
#1 Rod Brind'Amour.
Most people believe that Rod Brind'Amour will sign a contract extension with the Carolina Hurricanes and frankly if the Hurricanes fail to reach an agreement with their current head coach it would have to be considered a massive failure on the part of the organization. That being said on Saturday night NHL insider Elliotte Friedman revealed that Brind'Amour had made some pretty hefty demands associated with that potential extension, so I don't believe it's a sure thing he is back again next season.
Brind'Amour has a long history with Kraken general manager Ron Francis and given Brind'Amour's recent success as coach of the Hurricanes I suspect that he is at the very top of Francis' list when it comes to coaches he would like to have behind the bench of his brand new team.
#2 Travis Green.
Green has done a great job with the Vancouver Canucks and is widely respected around the National Hockey League for his coaching acumen. In a recent article published for The Athletic, NHL insider Pierre LeBrun was critical of the Canucks organization for letting Green enter this season without a new deal, arguing that such a move was a mistake in one of Canada's rabid hockey markets. Although, like Brind'Amour, there is a belief a deal will get done here sooner rather than later, don't be shocked if Green ends up in Seattle if the Canucks fail to get a deal done with their talented head coach.
#3 John Tortorella.
The always controversial Tortorella has largely been praised for the excellent job he has done in Columbus with the Blue Jackets outside of this current season. Tortorella has helped his team overachieve during that time in the eyes of most, including a shocking first round beat down of a team that was the Stanley Cup favorite at the time in the form of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and there's no question that it has helped rehabilitate his image as a coach in this league. There are big time questions about whether or not he will be back after what was largely a let down season for the Blue Jackets, and there may be no better coach to help whip a new team into shape that a disciplinarian like Tortorella.
#4 Jeff Blashill.
Although he has taken a lot of criticism from fans for his performance behind the bench of the Detroit Red Wings, I suspect most of that blame should fall on the shoulders of a rebuilding roster and not on those of the head coach. Blashill has done the best he could with the parts he has been given and as a result the Red Wings have shown some signs of life after what has been a rough patch following the departure of head coach Mike Babcock and general manager Ken Holland. In fact one could argue that many of the issues the Red Wings have had have come in large part due to questionable contracts signed by their former GM.
That being said Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman has yet to appoint his own man to coach the Red Wings with Blashill being a product of the Ken Holland era, and that could lead to Blashill hitting the open market. Should he do so I suspect he will have no issues finding a new job in the NHL, and that could very well be with the Seattle Kraken.
#5 Rick Tocchet.
Much like Jeff Blashill, Tocchet has taken the blame for not working miracles with what was unquestionably a rebuilding roster. Not only has Coyotes management struggled to put together a solid roster but major gaffes by now former general manager John Chayka cost the team several key draft picks. The team didn't draft until the 4th round in 2020 and even then they had to renounce that pick when Mitchell Miller's past bubbled up to the surface, resulting in the team choosing to cut ties with the player.
Much like in the case of the Detroit Red Wings, the Coyotes have a new general manager in Bill Armstrong who has yet to appoint his own head coach and that could mean time has run out for Tocchet. Tocchet is extremely well respected around the NHL though so if the Coyotes do opt to go in a new direction I suspect he will also quickly find work, and that could land him in Seattle with the Kraken.
Honorable Mention: Alain Vigneault.
Rumors over the weekend have suggested that Vigneault time's in Philadelphia could be coming to an end sooner rather than later, and although he has failed to find much success there he could still be a potential option. Historically Vigneault has done much better with a veteran roster, even often drawing criticism for appearing to favor veteran players over young talent, and that could make him a solid candidate for what will likely be a roster full of veterans after the Kraken's expansion draft.