A Journey into the Unknown: The Creation of The Advanced Bracton Coaching Score and a Ranking of NHL Coaches Today

We are entering a new era at Hockeyfreeforall.com. After years of anticipation, we are proud to announce the successful completion of our coach’s evaluation metric, the ABC (Advanced Bracton Coaching) score. Since the creation of the original AB score in 2007-08, our inability to project and predict the impact a coach makes on overall team performance in relation to our work has been a major problem. We believe, after completion of this project, that we now have a much better idea on this issue. Throughout this pursuit, we analyzed every head coach or interim head coach’s effectiveness on his team in each given year, as well as the period of his tenure. In total, there were ninety-six different head coaches in the NHL from 2007-present, and we anticipate that number will increase in the coming years. A list of the names included in this study will be displayed below.

We approached this process similar to the way the Junior Hockey study we embarked on in February was conducted, as each coach was examined and compared regardless of how many years of experience they had, in addition to strict predetermined conditions and statistics which we will now address. First, of the fourteen years of potential coaching time, several coaches received credit for years in which they did not actually finish the season employed by the organization. In these instances, we concluded that the coach under examination either coached a majority of the season’s games, making the player’s individual scores a greater representation of his work, or took over the position in the second half of a season despite coaching less games, potentially making the player’s individual scores a more recent reflection of said coaches’ work. A perfect example of this dilemma is the case of the 2020-21 Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres fired coach Ralph Krueger twenty-eight games into the fifty-six game regular season, appointing Don Granato with the interim tag. Due to the fact that Granato’s twenty-eight games were the last twenty-eight games of the season, we infer that the players’ individual scores were more of a reflection of Granato as opposed to Krueger due to the recency. After delving into all of these instances, we then had to assign the certain coach to every player AB score recorded in our database, for the purpose of figuring out which coaches coached which players and when. In total, there were 10,043 players in this database. This step in the process needed to be done for sorting purposes, as a major part of our analysis include average and total AB performance with forwards and defensemen of specific nationalities. This type of information is something we find extremely useful, as it can potentially be another solution to our previous inability to predict the first year AB score of a rookie player. Also included in the research is the exact average rookie AB score number under each given coach, to further address this issue. These concepts, as well as the ones addressed in the Junior Hockey Study from February, give us a much better idea on the immediate NHL impact a rookie player can have given the system he entered the league from, as well as the one he will be joining, as an average overall player AB score for each coach was also addressed here . In addition to the nationality data, each coach was also assigned an average “veteran” AB score. A “veteran” in this context is a player who played for the given coach in the final year of his career. Lastly, some new statistics created specifically for this project were implemented. These include the player movement trackers (PMTs), the advantage percentage, the return improvement percentage, and the average improvement number. Player Movement Trackers track the movement of NHL players across different coaches in the league over this fourteen year span, as well as the positive or negative change made as a result of the switch on their individual AB scores. These movement trackers illustrate whether or not players improved under the same coach in consecutive seasons, and which coach the player performed better under if he played for different coaches during the two-year span. “Movement” also occurred when a coach was fired, as a player had two separate coaches in the two-year span. This depiction showed us whether a decision to change coaches actually ended up hurting or helping the team in the short and long run. The percentage of players who improved under the new coach as opposed to his previous one is called the advantage percentage, and the percentage of players who improved by returning to his previous year’s coach is called the return improvement percentage. This movement information will be incredibly important for our next major project here at HFFA, as we will attempt to quantify General Managers’ decision making on roster construction through trades and free agency, as well as the coaches he has hired. Lastly, the average improvement number is the total number of individual AB improvement made on a yearly basis by a coach’s returning players divided by the total players who returned. Instead of factoring in all of the individual AB to get set numbers to determine effectiveness, we opted to bring back the sum of ranges statistic we used in the Junior Hockey study. For each individual AB score registered by players under a specific coach, we assigned a point value ranging from +5 to -5. Each score above +10 was given 5 points, between +4 and +9.99 earned 4 points, between +1 and +3.99 was 3 points, between 0 to +0.99 was 2 points, between -0.99 and 0 was 1 point, between -1 and -3.99 was -2 points, between -4 and -9.99 was -4 points, and lastly any score worse than -10 earned -5 points.

To recap the prior paragraph, here are a list of statistics included in our overall coaching AB calculation, as well as the interesting facts that we thought needed to be part of this study. The information actually factored in the formula will be highlighted in green, and the information we think will be interesting to discuss and comment on will be the information left unhighlighted. We found that the majority of players in the database are players from Canada, The United States, Finland, Sweden, and Russia, which is why they have specific columns in the nationality section of the calculation. The “Other” is any player who is from a country outside the five specified.

Each Advanced Bracton Coaching score was added to the overall team score of all the players’ individual scores every season, and we tested its retrospective accuracy using the Spearman’s Rho Rank Correlation formula as we always do at every season’s conclusion. An image of the results of this study compared to the previous results of only the individual player scores is shown below. The cells in green represent if the coaches score improved the retrospective accuracy, and the cells in red represent if the coaches score caused the retrospective accuracy to decrease.

As you can see by the image, most of the decreases were by a small 0.01 or 0.02 margin. In total the average dropped from 0.901 in the Eastern Conference and 0.876 in the Western Conference to 0.876 in the East and 0.856 in the West. However, after much effort trying to resolve the formula to increase improvement, we determined that this implementation was the most accurate and effective in terms of the ranking system we want to provide, as well as the analysis we want to give. Tampering with our initial formula would have sacrificed analysis with rho improvement, which is something we did not want to have to do.

Now that all the background information has been discussed, we would now like to give our rankings of the twenty-nine coaches in the NHL today that are part of this database, as the Seattle Kraken made Dave Hakstol the first coach in franchise history yesterday (6/24). At the time of this article, the Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes have not yet filled their respective coaching vacancies. Recently hired Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Brad Larsen will be added next season with his first year of data. In our analysis, we will go from the 29to 1, as we did in our junior study. Our analysis will consist of the statistics we previously discussed and will detail just where they rank amongst the other head coaches in the study. We also will discuss the surface-level state of each coach’s job security, and what direction we believe the team is headed based on our work. We intend to make these rankings a yearly occurrence, and we would like to note that these are the rankings as of today (6/26) and that they are subject to change with the addition of more data. With that being said, let us begin!

#29. Jeff Blashill- Detroit Red Wings

This one was not very surprising. Jeff Blashill has been the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings since the 2015-16 season. In his tenure, the Red Wings have spent $365.51 million on players for Blashill and his staffs to work with, which is the 22nd highest of the 96 coaches in the study. The results were sub -90 team AB seasons in five of Blashill’s six seasons, including two -100 seasons and the worst team AB ever recorded at -269.84. In fact, the 2019-20 Red Wings were the only team in our fourteen year database to ever amass a team score below -200. Blashill’s -324 sum of ranges number is also the worst of the 96 coaches in the study, and his -42.76 individual coaching score is the worst of the group as well. Despite the limited sample size (two players total), Blashill’s only positive nationality number is the +0.28 total score for Russian defensemen, as it is his highest number by a wide margin of any of the position groups. Blashill’s mere 14 advantages on the PMT are 80th of 96 in the study, as it is only above coaches that only had 1-2 years of experience. Among the coaches currently employed in the league today, that number is only higher than rookie coaches Dominique Ducharme’s 11, Dean Evason’s 10, and Rick Bowness’s 8. To put this into perspective, Bowness only has two years of experience, and Ducharme and Evason only have one each. Each of these three should catch Blashill’s total by the conclusion of next season, in 3-4 less seasons employed. This being said, the stat reflective of this (advantage percentage), of 27% is the 6th worst in the study for Blashill, and the lowest amongst all coaches in the league today. However, the players that return to Blashill in consecutive seasons have a 53% improvement rating, the 15th best in the study and 4th highest among active coaches. Detroit is poised to have multiple top prospects join the big club in the coming years, and Blashill’s average rookie AB score is -3.97, the worst among active coaches and the 82nd best in the study.

#28. Bob Boughner- San Jose Sharks

Bob Boughner has been the coach of the San Jose Sharks for two seasons and had a previous coaching stint with the Florida Panthers from 2017-18 to 2018-19. In his combined gigs, his respective general managers have spent $268.08 million on players for him and his staffs to work with, which is the 31st most in the study. The results were an average team AB score of -65.21 in Florida and an average team AB score of -124.509 in San Jose. Boughner’s sum of ranges number of -180 is the 3rd worst among active NHL coaches, and 90th in the overall study. His individual coaching AB score is -27.15, which is also 90th in the study. His best attribute nationality wise, despite the small sample size (four players), is his ability to coach Russian forwards, as it is the 7th best among active coaches and 20th best in the study. His advantage percentage of 33% is the 2nd lowest in the study ahead of only Jeff Blashill, and his return improvement percentage is 39%, the third worst among active coaches that are able to be counted for this statistic, ahead of only Jeremy Colliton and Todd McLellan, as Dean Evason and Dominque Ducharme do not have returning players yet as this was their first season.

#27. Dallas Eakins- Anaheim Ducks

Dallas Eakins has been the head coach of the Anaheim Ducks for two seasons, after an experienced AHL coaching career and a previous NHL stint for one season with the Edmonton Oilers. In total, his respective GMs have spent $177.41 million on players for him and his staffs to work with, which is the 45th most in the study. The results were the 2nd worst team score registered by the Edmonton Oilers in our fourteen years of data at -164.42, giving the Oilers the 3rd overall pick in the 2014 NHL draft, which they used to select future Hart Trophy Winner Leon Draisaitl. In Anaheim, the results were consecutive -75 or worse team AB seasons, something the Ducks have never had happen in the fourteen year span, including the worse score registered in team history at -104.54 last season. This score earned them the 3rd overall pick in next month’s entry draft. Eakins’ sum of ranges number is -161, which is the 8th worst in the study and 4th worst among active NHL coaches. His individual coaching AB score is -26.17, which is also the 7th worst in the study. Dallas Eakins is one of a select group of coaches in our study that has doesn’t have a positive average position group, as the graphic above displays. His “best” was his -2.74 average defenseman from outside the USA, CAN, RUS, FIN, SWE AB score, despite the small sample size of two players. Eakins’ advantage percentage of 43% is the 6th lowest among active coaches and 63rd in the overall study. His return improvement percentage was 44%, which is actually 18th among active coaches and 43rd overall.

#26. John Hynes- Nashville Predators

John Hynes has been the coach of the Nashville Predators for two seasons after a four-year stint with the New Jersey Devils from 2015-16 to 2018-19. In total, his respective GMs have spent $365.70 million for him and his staffs to work with, which is 13th among all active coaches and 21st in the entire study. The results in New Jersey were the two worst team AB scores registered in Devils history at -126.12 in 16-17 and -143.82 in 18-19 and a playoff appearance in 2016-17, where they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round. In Nashville, Hynes’ two seasons were only the 2nd time in the history of our work that the Predators have registered consecutive negative team AB seasons (-3.22, and -37.95). Despite this, the Predators still made the playoffs both seasons, but lost in the first round both times. Hynes’ sum of ranges number of -185 is the 2nd worst among active coaches, above only Jeff Blashill’s -324, and 92nd in the overall study. His individual coaching AB score is -25.94, which is also 87th overall in the study. According to the nationality data, Hynes is very good at coaching defensemen from Sweden, as his average AB score for that position group is +3.89, which is the 3rd highest of all 96 coaches. His advantage percentage of 34% is 80th in the study, and the 3rd worst among active coaches. However, his return improvement percentage is 48%, 10th best among active coaches and 29th overall.

#25. Travis Green- Vancouver Canucks  

Travis Green has been the coach of the Vancouver Canucks for four seasons (2017-18 to 2020-21). His General Manager, Jim Benning, has spent $253.55 million on players for Green and his staffs to work with, which is the 20th most among active coaches and 34th overall. The results were four straight negative team AB seasons, as the Canucks haven’t been a positive AB team since 2012-13. The average team AB score of a Travis Green Canuck team is -71.65, which is abysmal to say the least. Green’s sum of ranges number is -141, which is 85th in the overall study and 5th lowest among active coaches. His coaching AB score of -22.88 is also 82nd in the overall study. According to the nationality data, Green is solid when to comes to coaching forwards from Sweden, as that position group’s average AB score is +1.88, which is 8th best in the league today and 25th overall in the study. Green’s advantage percentage of 46% is 22nd among active coaches and 59th overall. However, his return improvement percentage of 47% is tied for 11th best among active coaches and tied for 30th in the overall study with Barry Trotz.

#24. Dave Tippett- Edmonton Oilers

Dave Tippett has been the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers for two seasons after previous head coaching experiences with the Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes. His respective general managers have spent $623.04 million on players for him and his staffs to work with, which is the 13th highest in the study and 8th among current coaches. The results in Dallas were one solid positive team AB season in 2007-08 at +21.83, which earned them a Western Conference Finals appearance, and then the worst team AB season for the Stars since the creation of the metric at -82.16. In Arizona, Tippett’s teams performed very well up until the 2013-14 season. Following that, his 2014-15 team and 16-17 team recorded the two worst team AB scores in Coyotes AB history at -127.75 and -105.52 respectively. The average team AB score of a Dave Tippett Coyotes team was -41.56. In his brief Edmonton stint to this point, the 2020-21 Oilers recorded their first positive team AB score since the 2016-17 season but registered a dreadful -91.61 in 2019-20. In both seasons, the Oilers lost in the first round of the playoffs. The average AB of a Dave Tippett Oilers team is -44.06. Tippett’s sum of ranges number is -115, which is 81st in the overall study and the 6th worst among active coaches. His individual coaching AB score is -17.12, which is 78th overall in the study. According to the nationality data, Tippett excels in coaching players from Finland overall. His +2.33 average defenseman AB score from Finland is the 4th highest of any current coach, and 5th in the whole study. His +1 average forward AB score from Finland is the 10th highest of any current coach, and 12th in the whole study. His advantage percentage of 62% is also among the highest currently and overall (T-5th and 10th respectively). However his return improvement percentage of 40% is the 6th lowest among active coaches and 58th overall.

#23. D.J. Smith- Ottawa Senators

D.J. Smith has been the head coach of the Ottawa Senators for two seasons after an assistant coaching gig with the Toronto Maple Leafs. In his tenure, his general manager, Pierre Dorion, has spent $111.41 on players for him and his staffs to work with, which is the 65th most in the study. Smith has made significant improvements to the Senators team AB score trajectory, as the team he took over registered a -171.48 score in 2018-19, one of the worst in AB history. His first season in 2019-20, that number decreased to -94.31, a tremendous 77 point improvement. This past season (2020-21), Smith improved the Senators again by +12.68 points, for a total of a near +100 point improvement in a two year span, which we find outstanding for a rebuilding team. Smith’s sum of ranges is -82, which is the 7th worst among active coaches and 78th overall in the study. His individual coaching AB score of -14.94 is the also the 7th worst among active coaches but 70th overall in the study. Smith is another coach that doesn’t have a positive nationality position group, but his “best” is his average AB score for a defenseman from the United States at -0.43, which is 13th among current coaches and 28th in the overall study. Due to the fact he’s only been a head coach for two seasons, Smith’s advantage percentage is 48%, as the Senators have added few new players from trades and free agency in only a year’s span. Despite this, that 48% is 19th among active coaches and 48th in the entire study. However, Smith’s return improvement percentage of 60% is the 2nd best among active coaches, trailing only Toronto’s Sheldon Keefe’s 75% and is 13th overall in the study. The Senators made major strides last season and were one of the best teams in hockey in the second half of the regular season. With more young talent set to join the roster next season, and another Top 10 draft pick in next month’s draft, the tandem of Pierre Dorion and D.J. Smith appear to be guiding the Senators in the right direction. Fans should be incredibly excited for the future.

#22- Jeremy Colliton- Chicago Blackhawks

Jeremy Colliton has been the head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks for three seasons (2018-19 to 2020-21) after taking over the reigns from future Hall of Famer Joel Quenneville during that 18-19 season. His general manager, Stan Bowman, has spent $202.23 million on players for him and his staffs to work with, which is the 40th highest in the study. The results were three consecutive negative team AB seasons for the Blackhawks including the lowest score registered in the history of our work for the team at -63.61 this past season. The average team AB score of a Jeremy Colliton Blackhawks team is -44.86. Colliton’s sum of ranges number is -49, which is the 8th lowest of all active coaches and 59th overall in the study and his -10.80 coaching AB score is 61st overall in the study as well. According to the nationality data, Colliton is best at coaching forwards from Russia, as his +0.19 average AB score for Russian forward is the 12th highest among active coaches, and 30th in the overall study. His advantage percentage is 61%, which is tied for the 7th best among active coaches with Mike Sullivan and Gerrard Gallant, and tied for 12th in the overall study with the same two men. His return improvement percentage on the other hand, is only 39%, which is the fourth lowest among active coaches and 60th in the overall study.

#21. Todd McLellan- Los Angeles Kings

Todd McLellan has been the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings for the last two seasons, after previous stints in San Jose and Edmonton. His general managers spent $705.25 million on players for him and his staffs to work with in his combined locations. In his seven seasons in San Jose, the Sharks’ average team AB score under Todd McLellan was an impressive +26.10, including the best team AB season registered by the Sharks in the history of our metric in 2013-14 at +73.84. He only had two negative team AB seasons in San Jose, and one was a -3.03 season in 2012-13 in which they still made the playoffs. The average team AB score for his three seasons in Edmonton was -50.58, including a +21.5 team score in 2016-17, which was the best score registered by an Oilers team in the history of our metric. In his first season in Los Angeles, he took team that registered a -138.84 team AB score (the worst in Kings AB history) in 2018-19 to a -62.76 score in 2019-20, which is an outstanding +76.08 point improvement. This season however, that number decreased back to -125.08, which is the third lowest score registered in Kings AB history. McLellan’s sum of ranges number is a -7 (19th among current coaches, 40th in entire study), which has the opportunity to become a positive score in 2021-22. His individual coaching AB score of -4.37 is 42nd in the overall study. According to the nationality information, McLellan is best at coaching forwards outside of CAN, USA, SWE, RUS, FIN, as his 1.38 average forward score is 13th best in the league currently, and 22nd in the overall study. McLellan’s advantage percentage of 50% is 18th among active coaches and 43rd overall. However, his return improvement percentage is 38%, which is last among current NHL coaches who have a return improvement percentage number, as Dominique Ducharme and Dean Evason were rookie coaches this year as we’ve said before. That 38% return improvement percentage number is 61st in the overall study. Like the Ducks, the Kings are also one of the teams rumored to be exploring the possibility of a Jack Eichel trade, as many of their young talent gained in their outstanding rebuilding process appears to be close to NHL ready. We believe McLellan will be behind the bench for this transition from rebuilding to competitive team, as we’d be shocked to see him fired this season. We believe Kings fans have a lot to be excited about, and bright days are ahead for this organization.

#20- Dave Hakstol- Seattle Kraken

We were planning on writing a separate article on the hiring of Dave Hakstol to be the first head coach of the Seattle Kraken, however, we decided to just condense our thoughts into this study and forgo the lone article. We believe the Kraken made the best decision given the confirmed candidates they interviewed, and we will discuss why in the following explanation. According to NHL insider Pierre LeBrun, the Kraken interviewed Rick Tocchet, David Quinn, Rocky Thompson, and Joe Sacco, along with Hakstol and three other mystery candidates. Of the six revealed names, Hakstol has the highest coaching AB score at -4.27, and the 43rd overall score in the study. Hakstol was the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers for three seasons (2015-16 to 2017-18) and led the Flyers to the playoffs in two of those three seasons. The average team AB score of a Dave Hakstol Flyers team was -14.07, and his +33.93 score in 2017-18 was the 4th highest Flyers team score in the history of our work. Hakstol was fired 31 games into the 2018-19 season, which meant Scott Gordon’s 51 games were the majority, giving him credit for the full year as we discussed in the explanation pages much earlier in this report. The 2018-19 Flyers finished with a -84.59 team score, which was a 118.52 swing in the negative direction. Hakstol’s respective general managers spent $184.20 million on players for him and his staffs to work with, which is the 44th highest in the study. His sum of ranges number of -12 is 44th in the study, and he will have a chance to jump into the positive numbers this season with the Kraken depending on the AB scores of the players under him. According to the nationality information, Hakstol has positive average AB scores for American and Canadian forwards (+0.41 and +0.29 respectively). His Canadian score is 11th among active coaches and 21st in the entire study, and his American score is 13th among active coaches, and 30th in the entire study. We believe this could mean that the Kraken will target mostly forwards from the US and Canada to fit these strengths in the expansion draft and trades, which is something we will definitely be keeping an eye on. We also believed that of all the statistics we have to evaluate a coach, the Kraken needed someone with a very high advantage percentage, as they are literally building a team of players who didn’t play for Coach Hakstol the previous year. Interestingly enough, Hakstol’s 69% advantage percentage is the best among current coaches, and the 2nd best in the entire study behind only Patrick Roy’s 71%. In a weak Pacific Division, if 69% of the Kraken’s post expansion draft roster can improve their previous season AB scores under Coach Hakstol, we see no reason why they can’t make the playoffs year one, depending on the players they are able to bring in. Our entire month of July will be dedicated to expansion and the Kraken, and we believe they’re off to a great start with the Hakstol hiring. Much more to come on the Seattle front from our end so stay tuned!

#19. Rick Bowness- Dallas Stars  

Rick Bowness has been the head coach of the Dallas Stars for the last two season, which included a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in the NHL bubble during the 2019-20 season. Bowness’ Stars teams both registered negative team AB scores, however the improvement from -26.21 in 2019-20 to -5.10 did not go unnoticed. The average team AB score of a Rick Bowness Stars team is -15.65, which definitely isn’t the worst among his fellow Western Conference coaches. Bowness’ general manager, Jim Nill, spent $139 million on players for Bowness and his staffs to work with, which is 4th lowest among active coaches and 57th in the overall study. Bowness’ sum of ranges number of -8 is 20th among active coaches and 41st in the overall study. However, that number could increase if the Stars have a solid 2021-22 campaign. Bowness’ coaching AB score of -2.28 is 18th among active coaches and 36th in the overall study. According to the nationality information, Bowness excels in coaching forwards from Finland, as his average AB score for that position group is +3.22, which is 6th among active coaches and 7th in the overall study. Bowness also is very good at coaching forwards from Russia according to our data, as his +2.54 average Russian forward AB score is 5th among active coaches and 16th in the overall study. Bowness’ advantage percentage of 38% is the 5th lowest among active coaches and 71st in the overall study. However, his return improvement percentage of 53% is the 5th highest among active coaches and 36th in the overall study.

#18. Dominique Ducharme- Montreal Canadiens

This ranking is probably the most surprising ones on this list, however, at the time of this article the Montreal Canadiens just advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals last night (6/24) in large part to Ducharme’s takeover so perhaps it is justifiable to rank him over more experienced coaches such as the ones we’ve already discussed. Ducharme became the interim head coach of the Canadiens 15 games into the 2020-21 season when GM Marc Bergevin decided to fire Claude Julien after a rough stretch. Bergevin had spent $73 million on players for Ducharme and his staff to work with this season, which is the 79th overall in the study. The result was a -31.27 team AB score for Montreal in 2020-21, and maybe it could’ve been higher had Ducharme been the coach for the entire season. Interesting fact: should Montreal win the Stanley Cup this season, they’d have the lowest team AB score by a Stanley Cup winning team in the history of the metric and would become the second negative AB team to win the Stanley Cup overall, the first since the 2011-12 Los Angeles Kings. Ducharme’s sum of ranges number is -2 (18th among current coaches and 37th in the study), and will likely become a positive number in 2021-22, as his interim tag is almost certainly going to be replaced with the full time job. His individual coaching AB score of -2.41, albeit for just one season, is also 37th overall in the study. According to the nationality information, despite the small sample size, Ducharme excels at coaching forwards from Finland, as his average AB score for that position group is +2.33, which is 9th best out of current coaches and 13th best in the study. His advantage percentage is 52% (17th among active coaches, 36th in study), which showed that his replacement of Julien was the correct choice by Bergevin as if the Cup Final appearance wasn’t enough evidence. Ducharme does not currently have a return improvement percentage as he is a rookie head coach, so those numbers will be added next season for the players who play for him in consecutive years. The Canadiens shocked the hockey world last night (6/24) when they defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in six games to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. We believe a large amount of the credit should go to Ducharme and his coaching staff, who even needed to coach the majority of the series for him as he was sidelined with COVID-19. Ducharme will absolutely be named the head coach of the Canadiens immediately after the finals, and time will tell us exactly how much credit numerically he will earn for his coaching when more data is available. In the meantime, Cole Caufield appears to be an incredibly talented player and the future is bright for Montreal given their deep farm system and large amount of future draft picks.

#17. Jared Bednar- Colorado Avalanche

Jared Bednar has been the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche for five seasons, as he took over the job from Patrick Roy in 2016-17. Bednar’s general manager, Joe Sakic, has spent $319.58 million on players for him and his staffs to work with. The results were not immediate, as the Avalanche recorded the 2nd worst team AB score in the history of our work in 2016-17, with a -212.28 score, trailing only the 2019-20 Detroit Red Wings for the worst AB team of the last fourteen years. However, in 2019-20 and 2020-2021, the Avalanche recorded their two highest scores in AB history with a  +83.39 and +104.53 respectively. In 2017-18, they improved from their abysmal -212.28 score to only a -1.67 score, for a +210 point improvement. This two year swing was the highest improvement margin in the history of the metric as well. This being said, the average team AB score for a Jared Bednar Colorado Avalanche team is a -8.02, which is still solid over a five-year span. Bednar’s +49 sum of ranges number is the 14th highest among active coaches, and 21st in the entire study. This number earned Bednar a +0.35 individual coaching AB score, which is good for 28th in the study as well. According to the nationality information, Bednar excels at coaching forwards from Finland, as his average AB score of a forward from Finland is +3.26, which is 5th among active coaches and 6th in the overall study. Bednar’s advantage percentage of 37% is actually the 4th lowest of any active coach, above only John Hynes, Bob Boughner, and Jeff Blashill, who were three of the bottom four active overall coaches according to our work, and 80th in the overall study. On the other hand, his return improvement percentage is 59%, which is the 3rd highest of any active coach, and the highest of any coach with 5+ years of experience.

#16. Craig Berube- St. Louis Blues

Craig Berube has been the head coach of the St. Louis Blues for the last three seasons after a brief stint with the Philadelphia Flyers from 2013-14 to 2014-15. Berube’s respective general managers have spent $358.21 million on players for him and his staffs to work with. The results in St. Louis included a Stanley Cup Championship in 2018-19, and 2/3 positive team AB seasons during his tenure. The average St. Louis Blues team AB score under Craig Berube is an impressive +20.64. However, during his two years in Philadelphia, his average team AB score was an underwhelming -44.86, with one playoff appearance in 2013-14. Berube’s sum of ranges number of +31 is tied for 15th among active coaches and tied for 23rd in the overall study with Dean Evason of the Minnesota Wild. Berube’s individual coaching AB score of 0.66 is the 16th best in the study as well. According to the nationality information, Berube excels in coaching forwards from Russia, as his average AB score for Russian forwards was +2.34, good for 6th among active coaches and 17th in the overall study. Berube’s advantage percentage of 55% is 15th among active coaches and 29th in the overall study, however, his 44% return improvement percentage of 44% is tied for 17th among active coaches with Anaheim’s Dallas Eakins, and tied for 42nd in the overall study with Eakins as well.

#15. Lindy Ruff- New Jersey Devils

The 2020-21 season was the first season of Lindy Ruff in New Jersey, after his previous stints in Dallas and Buffalo. Ruff is one of a select group of coaches that have 10+ seasons of data available to us, as there are only fourteen total years in our database. Ruff’s respective general managers have spent $512.96 million on players for him and his staffs to work with, which is 10th among active coaches and 16th in the overall study. Starting with New Jersey, we’d say Ruff’s first season was very successful, as the team went from a -95.11 team AB score in 2019-20 under interim head coach Alain Nasreddine, to a -66.84 score under Coach Ruff, a near 30 point improvement in the right direction. Ruff was the head coach of the Dallas Stars from 2013-14 to the 2016-17 season, in which he registered three negative team AB seasons, but had a +41.19 team AB score in 2015-16, which is the highest in the history of the Stars’ team AB. That being said, the average team AB score of Lindy Ruff’s Dallas Stars was -15.01 for four seasons, which is somewhat solid. It’s no secret that the Buffalo Sabres were at their best under Lindy Ruff, as they haven’t made the playoffs since he left the team. Ruff coached the Sabres from the 2007-08 season to the 2011-12 season. In that five-year span, the average team AB score of the Sabres was +1.34, including the three best Sabres team AB scores, and only positive ones at that, in the entire existence of AB. Ruff’s sum of ranges number of +26, is 17th among all active coaches, and 25th in the overall study. This number earned Ruff a +3.56 individual coaches AB score, which is also 22nd overall in the study. According to the nationality data, Ruff excels at coaching forwards from the United States, as his average American forward AB score was +2.55, which is the 5th best among active coaches, and 8th best in the study. It just so happens, that the Devils most recent first overall pick and future face of the franchise, Jack Hughes, is American. Listening to Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald personally at the Devils’ 1995 championship banner dropping ceremony on Thursday evening (6/24), he intends to do anything and everything in his power to make Jack Hughes the NHL superstar fans and management want him to become. Perhaps the Ruff hire had something to do with this, as he mentioned several times in his press conference the good relationship Hughes has with Coach Ruff. Many expect him to earn the alternate captain “A” on his sweater under Ruff next season, which we believe would be incredible for his development into a leader for this Devils franchise. Ruff’s advantage percentage of 48% is 20th among active coaches, good for 49th in the overall study and his return improvement percentage of 42% is 21st among active coaches for 52nd in the overall study. In the case of the Devils specifically, of the thirteen players that returned to the team in 2020-21, eleven of them increased their AB scores under Coach Ruff (84%). Jack Hughes was one of those eleven players, as his score improved by an incredible +10.62 points under Ruff. Given the fact that Ruff was just hired to coach the team last season, and the large amount of praise given by Tom Fitzgerald during Thursday’s event, we have no doubt that Coach Ruff will be behind the bench for the New Jersey Devils for the foreseeable future, as we believe the Devils are definitely on the right track in their rebuild process. The tandem of Ruff and Fitzgerald is a leadership group fans ought to be excited about, and with another top-five pick in next month’s NHL draft, the Devils could be returning to contention quicker than expected right before our eyes.

#T13. Darryl Sutter- Calgary Flames

Darryl Sutter returned to the Calgary Flames to be their head coach during the 2020-21 season, as the Flames fired Geoff Ward twenty-five games in. Before returning to Calgary this season, Sutter coached the Los Angeles Kings from the 2011-12 season to the 2016-17 season, prior to working in advisory roles for various organizations before he was hired in Calgary. Sutter’s respective general mangers spent $454.35 million on players for him and his staffs to work with, which is the 12th highest among active coaches and 18th in the overall study. The results in Los Angeles were plentiful, as the Kings won two Stanley Cups during his tenure. In fact, Sutter’s +59.83 team AB score during their Stanley Cup Championship 2013-14 season is the highest score registered in Los Angeles Kings team AB history. The average team AB score of a Daryl Sutter Los Angeles Kings team was +8.01, which is outstanding given the seven-year time span. In Calgary, Sutter improved their team score from -64.30 in 2019-20  to -18.55 in 2020-2021, good for a near forty-six point improvement. Sutter’s some of ranges number of +63 is the 10th best among current coaches, and 17th in the overall study, earning him an individual coaches AB score of +4.13, which is tied with Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer for 21st in the overall study. According to the nationality data, Sutter excels at coaching American forwards, as his +1.04 average American forward AB score is the 9th best of all active coaches, and the 23rd highest in the overall study. Sutter’s advantage percentage of 45% is the 7th worst among active coaches and 61st overall in the study. However, his return improvement percentage of 48% is the 9th best among active coaches, and 27th in the overall study.

#T13. Peter DeBoer- Vegas Golden Knights

Peter DeBoer became the head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights with twenty-two games remaining in the 2019-20 season. Due to the fact that number was not a majority, we decided not to give DeBoer credit for that team’s AB performance, so we say he has only been the head coach of the VGK for a single season (2020-21). Prior to his hiring in Vegas, DeBoer coached the Florida Panthers for three seasons (2008-09 to 2010-11), the New Jersey Devils for four seasons (2011-12 to 2014-15), and the San Jose Sharks for four seasons (2015-16 to 2018-19). He is another of the few coaches with 10+ years of experience in our database. DeBoer’s respective general managers have spent $714.50 million on players for him and his staffs to work with, which is 4th among active coaches and 6th in the entire study. The results in Florida were one positive, and two negative team AB seasons, for an average team AB score of -41.03. However, the +7.91 score in 2008-09 is the 3rd highest score in Panthers team AB history and is one of their only three positive team AB seasons in general. In New Jersey, he coached the Devils to a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in the 2011-12 season, in which they fell to the Los Angeles Kings. The Devils had all negative team AB scores under him as well, for a team AB score average of -51.92 over the four-year span. In San Jose, it was the opposite, as his teams had an average team AB score of +17.91 during his-four year gig, and his only negative team score was a measly -3.63. He coached the San Jose Sharks to a Stanley Cup Finals appearance as well during the 2015-16 season. During his current tenure with the Golden Knights, DeBoer registered the highest team AB score in VGK history at +125.23 and led his team to back-to-back final-four appearances, in which they lost in both instances. DeBoer’s sum of ranges number is a solid +60, which is the 11th best among active coaches and 18th in the overall study, earning him a +4.13 individual coaching AB score, tied with Darryl Sutter for 13th among active coaches and 20th in the overall study. According to the nationality data, DeBoer excels at coaching forwards from Finland, as his +2.43 score of the position group is the 8th best among active coaches and 11th in the overall study. His advantage percentage is an outstanding 65%, which is the 3rd highest among current coaches as well as 7th in the overall study. His return improvement percentage is 45%, which is tied with Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, as well as Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper for 14th among active head coaches, as well as 39th in the overall study.

#12. Rod Brind’Amour- Carolina Hurricanes

This ranking is an example of one we definitely think will improve over time with the addition of more data. Rod Brind’Amour has been the head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes for the last three seasons, as it is the only head coaching experience he has to this date. His general manager Don Waddell has spent $205.53 million on players for Brind’Amour and his staffs to work with, which is 21st among active coaches and 39th in the overall study. The results of this were three consecutive positive team AB seasons, the first time in Hurricanes AB history this has occurred. These three positive scores make up 60% of the Hurricanes’ total positive team AB scores since the creation of our metric in 07-08. In fact the 2020-21 season AB score under Coach Brind’Amour of +47.23 is the best season score in Carolina Hurricanes AB history. Brind’Amour’s sum of ranges number of +54 is the 12th highest among current coaches, and 19th in the overall study, earning him a +4.74 individual coaching AB score which is the 12th highest in the study as well. Brind’Amour is one of a select group of coaches to have high average AB scores for multiple position groups of multiple nationalities. However, his +7.73 average AB score among forwards from Finland is by far his highest, as it is 2nd among current coaches, trailing only Mike Sullivan’s +8.47 average, and is 2nd in the overall study behind Sullivan as well. Brind’Amour has a 62% advantage percentage which is tied for 5th in the league with Edmonton Oilers coach Dave Tippett and tied for 10th in the overall study with Tippett as well. His return improvement percentage of 52% is tied with New York Rangers coach Gerrard Gallant for 6th in among current coaches and tied for 18th in the overall study with Gallant as well.

#11. Dean Evason- Minnesota Wild

Dean Evason became the interim head coach of the Minnesota Wild with twelve games remaining in the 2019-20 season, replacing Bruce Boudreau who had been coaching the team since 2016-17. His general manager Bill Guerin spent $79.49 million on players for Evason and his staff to work with, which is 2nd to last among current coaches (above only fellow rookie coach Dominique Ducharme in Montreal), for 75th in the overall study. In his first full year with the Wild, Dean Evason had one of the greatest individual coaching season’s we’ve seen in AB history. He was nominated for the Jack Adams Award for the league’s best coach, which in our opinion, was well deserved. Sure, his ranking on this list at #11 may be a bit high, but we expect another strong year out of Minnesota next season and could see them being contenders for the foreseeable future, therefore inserting Evason’s name into that elite head coach conversation. The Wild registered a -5.38 team AB score in 2019-20, and under a full year of Evason, that number increased to +35.69 (about a +40 point improvement), good for 3rd in a division with Vegas and Colorado, two of the clear best teams in the league. Evason’s sum of ranges for a 1st year coach was outstanding, as a +31 is tied for 15th best among active coaches with Stanley Cup Champion Craig Berube and tied for 23rd in the overall study with Berube as well. This number earned Evason an individual coaching AB score of +7.71, which is the 17th best in the overall study already! Despite a small sample size, Evason excelled in multiple position nationality groups, but his advancement of Calder Trophy finalist and likely winner Krill Kaprizov makes his average Russian forward AB score +6.89, which is 2nd among active coaches, behind only Jon Cooper’s +6.99, good for 4th in the overall study as well. Evason’s advantage percentage of 53% is the 16th best among active coaches, and 34th in the overall study. This 53% showed that the Wild made the right decision for their team to replace Bruce Boudreau (who scores very highly on the overall study rankings) with Evason as he got more out of their group than Boudreau did. Due to the fact he is a rookie head coach, Evason doesn’t have a return improvement percentage yet, as that is something we will be examining this time next year. The Wild made massive strides this season as we’ve discussed, and we are looking forward to seeing what they do this offseason, as they are one of the most interesting teams when it comes to the expansion draft.

#10. Sheldon Keefe- Toronto Maple Leafs

Another potentially surprising ranking on our end with this one, but similar to Dean Evason’s these numbers can’t be ignored. Sheldon Keefe took over the Leafs head coaching job from Mike Babcock twenty-three games into the 2019-20 season and coached the remaining forty-seven regular season games and their playoff bubble exit to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the play-in round, therefore earning full credit on the season. His general manager Kyle Dubas spent $168.08 million on players for Keefe and his staffs to work with, which is the 5th lowest among active head coaches and 50th in the overall study. The results were one slightly negative and one very positive team AB season for the Maple Leafs, including the 2nd best score ever registered by the club in the history of our metric in 2020-21. The average team AB score of a Sheldon Keefe Toronto Maple Leafs team is an outstanding +28.53, which among the best of our study. Keefe’s sum of ranges number of +51 is the 13th best among all active coaches, and 20th best in the overall study. This number earned Keefe an individual coaching AB score of +8.15, which is 17th in the overall study. Like Evason, Keefe is showing a wide variety of range with his nationality data chart as shown above, as his only negative averages were with defensemen from Sweden as well as defensemen and forwards from outside the USA, CAN, SWE, FIN, RUS. The numbers that stand out the most are his +4.40 average Russian forward AB score, as well as his +4 average American forward AB score. The Russian number is the 4th highest average among active coaches, as well as 9th overall in the study. Perhaps this is why the Leafs are suddenly so invested in drafting and developing Russian players, as the majority of their most recent draft picks came from Russia. The American number is the 2nd best among active coaches, as well as the 3rd highest in the entire study. Now to the interesting part, Sheldon Keefe’s advantage percentage is 47% which is 21st among active coaches and 55th in the overall study. However, his return improvement percentage of a whopping 75% is the best of any coach in our study by 15% and the best of all active coaches. We could see the massive improvements made by Toronto’s “core four” and other roster players with a full year under Keefe. Mitch Marner improved his 2019-20 AB score by +7.96 points, Jason Spezza improved by +7.58, Alexander Kerfoot improved by +4.83, Justin Holl improved by +6.65, William Nylander improved by +4.95, Jake Muzzin improved by +4.03, Zach Hyman improved by +3.02, Morgan Reilly improved by +3.91, and captain John Tavares improved by +9.43. This is incredibly rare to see this many significant improvements to a group of players, and this is something we couldn’t overlook.

#9. Gerrard Gallant- New York Rangers  

Similar to the Hakstol hiring, we were planning on writing an article the day the Rangers first hired Gerrard Gallant earlier this month (June 2021), however we wanted to release all of our statistics and coaching evaluations at the same time in the same article which is why we will discuss it here. According to multiple insiders, the Rangers interviewed Rick Tocchet, and potentially had interest in a John Tortorella reunion. Out of their former coach David Quinn, Tocchet, Tortorella, and Gallant, it was Gallant that scored the highest in our metric (Gallant #14 overall, Tortorella #30 overall, Quinn #46 overall, and Tocchet #89 overall). We absolutely love this hire, and fans of the Rangers will shortly realize why when reading the next paragraph. Gerrard Gallant was most recently the head coach of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights franchise, where he helped lead the club to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season. He was the coach of the team for three seasons (2017-18 to 2019-20) and was fired shortly before the playoffs for VGK’s current head coach Peter DeBoer. Prior to his experience in Vegas, Gallant coached the Florida Panthers for two seasons (2014-15 to 2015-16). Gallant’s respective general managers spent $335.47 million on players for him and his staffs to work with, which is 16th among active coaches and 26th in the overall study. The results in Florida were one negative and one positive team AB season, including a +58.37 team score in 2015-16, which is the best team score registered by the Florida Panthers in AB team history. Gallant was fired twenty-two games into the 2016-17 season and did not receive credit for that year. The average team AB score of a Gerrard Gallant Florida Panthers team was an impressive +11.04, despite the two year sample size. In Vegas, we believe Gerrard Gallant deserves a majority of the credit for the franchise’s early success, as the Golden Knights have yet to register a negative team AB season under Gallant or DeBoer. Under Gallant, the average team AB score of the Vegas Golden Knights was +47.94, which is simply outstanding. Gallant’s sum of ranges number is +101, which is the 9th best in among active coaches and 13th in the overall study. This number earns him an individual coaching score of +9.5, which is the 14th best in the overall study. He is one of the select group of coaches that excels in many different nationality position groups; however his best is his +7.57 average AB score for Swedish forwards. This 7.57 is 3.01 points higher than Peter Laviolette’s +4.56 average, as Gallant is far and away the best in the league in this department, and 3rd in the overall study. Gallant’s advantage percentage of 61% is tied for 7th best in the league with Pittsburgh’s Mike Sullivan, and tied for 12th in the entire study with Sullivan as well. If this average holds this season, 61% of an already solid +25.66 New York Rangers team will have their individual season AB scores increase in Gallant’s first season. This to us, is playoff level improvement and we have no doubt the Rangers will be competing for a playoff spot late into the 2021-22 season, and perhaps even make it when the league goes back to the normal format and divisions. Gallant’s return improvement percentage is also very good at 52%, which is tied with Carolina’s Rod Brind’Amour for 6th among active head coaches and tied for 18th in the overall study with Brind’Amour as well. Gallant received a four-year contract from the Rangers on June 14th, and we look forward to seeing the immediate impact he will bring to the Rangers franchise in hopes of bringing them back to relevancy and competing for Stanley Cups in the near future.

#8. Paul Maurice- Winnipeg Jets

Paul Maurice is one of the select group of coaches with 10+ years of experience in this database, as he coached the Toronto Maple Leafs for a season (2007-08), the Carolina Hurricanes for three seasons (2008-09 to 2010-11), and the Winnipeg Jets for the last seven seasons (2014-15 to present). Maurice’s respective general managers spent $647.10 million on players for him and his staffs to work with, which is the 7th most among active coaches and 11th in the overall study. The results in Toronto were an abysmal -82.94 team score which was the score that got him fired. However Ron Wilson didn’t improve the team very much the following season as it became a -82.68, which may be more reflective on the group as opposed to the coach. In Carolina, he registered a +19.99 score in his first season, improving an already positive Hurricanes team by nearly ten points upon arrival. However, he followed that up by registering two consecutive negative team AB scores in 2009-10 and 2010-11 and was fired twenty-five games into the 2011-12 season, therefore not receiving credit for that full year. The average team AB score of a Paul Maurice Carolina Hurricanes team was a respectable -6.31. It’s in Winnipeg that Paul Maurice has had the most AB success, as the average team AB score of his Jets teams were an impressive +5.6 given that it’s a seven-year time span. His +85.37 score in 2017-18, +15.43 score in 2020-21, +12.53 score in 2018-19, and +0.46 score in 2014-15 are the best scores registered by the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise since the creation of our metric in 2007-08, as well as the only positive scores recorded by that franchise in that time span. Maurice’s sum of ranges number of +116 is 8th among active coaches and 11th in the entire study, earning him a +10.74 individual coaching AB score that is 11th best in the study as well. Maurice has multiple nationality data points that stand out to us, including his +2.89 average AB score of Swedish forwards, as well as his +2.98 score of forwards from outside the USA, CAN, RUS, SWE, FIN. The Sweden number is the 6th highest among active coaches as well as 14th in the entire study, and the “other” number is the 9th best among active coaches and 13th in the overall study. Maurice’s advantage percentage of 57% is the 14th highest among active coaches and the 24th overall in the study, while his return improvement percentage of 42% is 20th among active coaches and 51st in the overall study.

#7. Bruce Cassidy-Boston Bruins

Bruce Cassidy has been the head coach of the Boston Bruins for four seasons since taking over for Claude Julien with twenty-seven games remaining in the 2016-17 season (which Cassidy did not receive credit for). Cassidy is the only coach in our metric to have above a +10 individual coaching AB score with less than five years of coaching experience on record, which is simply incredible. Cassidy’s general manager, Don Sweeney, has spent $271 million on players for him and his staffs to work with, which is 18th among active coaches and 30th in the entire study. The immediate impact Cassidy made on the Bruins team AB scores was incredible, as his average team AB score is a +70.79, which is absolutely unheard of. In fact, the 2017-18 score of +113.12 is the 4th highest in Bruins AB history, trailing only their cup winning team in 2010-11 (+124.51), their title defense team (+118.42), and their 2013-14 team (+178.83). Cassidy’s sum of ranges number of +163 is also very impressive given the little number of years he’s been coaching, as it is 7th among all active coaches and 10th in the entire study. This number earned Cassidy a +17.53 individual coaching AB score, which is the 7th highest in the overall study. Bruce Cassidy has one of the most balanced, impressive nationality information charts we looked at, as he scores very highly in several of the different position groups. However, his +6.52 average defensemen AB score for players from outside the USA, CAN, SWE, FIN, RUS stood out the most to us. This number is the highest among active coaches by about +3.5 points, and the 2nd best in the overall study. Cassidy’s “other” forward average AB score of +5.65 is the 2nd highest of all active coaches behind only Jon Cooper’s +8.10, and the 2nd best in the overall study as well. His advantage percentage of 59% is tied with Barry Trotz and Peter Laviolette for the 11th best among active coaches and 17th best in the overall study, while his return improvement percentage of 45% is tied with Jon Cooper and Peter DeBoer for 14th among active head coaches, as well as 39th in the overall study.

#6. Peter Laviolette- Washington Capitals

Peter Laviolette just concluded his first year as head coach of the Washington Capitals (2020-21), after previous stints with the Nashville Predators (2014-15 to 2018-19), Philadelphia Flyers (2009-10 to 2012-13), and Carolina Hurricanes (2007-08).  Laviolette is one of the few coaches with more than ten years of experience in our database. His respective general managers have spent $691.21 million on players for him and his staffs to work with. The results in Carolina were a +9.36 team that was improved by Paul Maurice by ten points in his first season in 2008-09. In Philadelphia, he led the Flyers to a Stanley Cup Finals appearance with their best score registered in Flyers team AB history with +86.37, as well as their 3rd highest score in +40.50. That being said, the average team AB score of a Peter Laviolette Philadelphia Flyers team was an impressive +16.31, which is the best the Flyers have ever done in a four-year stretch in AB history. In Nashville, Laviolette led the Predators to Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2016 and registered five consecutive positive team AB scores. This includes a +110.18 score in 2017-18, the best in Predators team AB history. His average team AB score in Nashville was an unbelievable +40.34 for a five-year span. This season in Washington however, he took a +34.50 team from 2019-20 and dropped it to a +15.28 team and were eliminated in five games in the first round at the hands of the Boston Bruins. Despite this though, Laviolette is one of the only coaches in the database to register positive average team AB scores for every team he’s ever coached (3+ team criteria). Laviolette’s sum of ranges number of +248 is the 5th highest of active coaches, and 8th best in the overall study. This number earned Laviolette a +24.47 individual coaching AB score which is the 6th best in the overall study. Laviolette is another coach that has an extremely impressive nationality data chart, as his +4.56 average AB score for Swedish forwards is what stands out the most to us. This Swedish number is the 2nd best of all active coaches behind only Rangers head coach Gerrard Gallant’s +7.57 average. His advantage percentage of 59% is tied with Barry Trotz and Bruce Cassidy for 11th among active head coaches and 17th in the entire study, while his return improvement percentage of 43% is 19th among active head coaches and 49th in the overall study.

#5. Mike Sullivan- Pittsburgh Penguins

Mike Sullivan has been the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins since the 2015-16 season. His respective general managers have spent $464.26 million on players for him and his coaching staff to work with which is 11th among active coaches and 17th in the overall study. The results couldn’t have been better for the Penguins, as Sullivan led the club to back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships in 2016 and 2017, as well as six consecutive positive team AB seasons. In fact, the two championship teams registered the highest team AB scores in Penguins team AB history at +77.96 (2016-17) and +74.84 (2015-16). Sullivan’s sum of ranges number of +226 is the 6th highest among active coaches and the 8th best in the overall study, earning him an impressive +25.62 individual coaching AB score. He is the only coach in our top-five rankings with less than eight years of experience in the database, making is above twenty score even more impressive. Sullivan has terrific nationality chart information, as his +8.53 average forward from Finland AB score is the best of all active coaches and the best in the overall study. Sullivan is also very good at coaching defensemen from Finland, as his +4.04 average position group AB number is the 2nd highest among active coaches, trailing only Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper, and is 3rd overall in the overall study. In addition to this Sullivan’s impressive +3.55 average Canadian forward AB is the 3rd highest among active coaches behind Minnesota’s Dean Evason and Boston’s Bruce Cassidy, as well as 9th overall in the entire study. Sullivan’s advantage percentage is 61%, which is tied with Rangers coach Gerrard Gallant as well as Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton for 7th best among active coaches and 12th in the overall study. However, his return improvement percentage is 41%, which is 22nd among active coaches and 54th in the overall study.

#4. Barry Trotz- New York Islanders

Barry Trotz has been the head coach of the New York Islanders since the 2018-19 season after previous stints with the Washington Capitals (2014-15 to 2017-18), and the Nashville Predators (2007-08 to 2013-14). He is the only coach in our database to have coached in all fourteen years of our study. His respective general managers have spent $802.26 million on players for him and his staffs to work with, which is the highest of all active coaches as well as the most in the overall study as well. During his time in Nashville, he registered four negative and two positive team AB seasons, for an average team AB score of -15.46 in the six-year span. During is time in Washington however, Trotz transformed the Capitals into one of hockey’s best teams, winning a Stanley Cup for the franchise in 2017-18. All four of Trotz’s Capitals teams were positive AB teams, including a +156.88 score in 2016-17, the 2nd highest in Capitals team AB history behind the 2009-10 team’s +169.97 score. The average team AB score of a Barry Trotz Capitals team was an astonishing +80.43. Finally, during his time with the NY Islanders, Trotz has registered two positive and one negative team AB seasons, including a +76.49 score in 2018-19, which is the best score registered by an Islanders team in the history of the metric. Trotz has led the Islanders to the conference finals in two consecutive seasons, falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning both times. The average AB score of a Barry Trotz New York Islanders team is +28.28. Trotz’s sum of ranges number of +283 is the 3rd highest among active coaches and 4th in the overall study, earning him a +28.18 individual coaching AB score, which is the 4th best score in the overall study. Like the other coaches in our 1-7 range, Trotz’s nationality chart data is extremely impressive, as his +4.86 average Russian forward AB score, his +3.41 forwards from Finland AB score, and his +2.79 defensemen from Finland AB score are the points that stand out the most. The Russian forward AB average is the 3rd highest among active coaches and the 7th best in the overall study. The Finland forwards AB average is the 4th highest among active coaches and 5th in the overall study. Lastly, the Finland defensemen AB average is the 3rd highest among active coaches and 4th in the overall study. Trotz’s 59% advantage percentage is tied with Washington’s Peter Laviolette, as well as Boston’s Bruce Cassidy for 11th among active coaches and 17th in the overall study. His return improvement percentage is 47%, which is tied with Vancouver’s Travis Green for 11th among active coaches and 30th in the overall study.

#3. Jon Cooper- Tampa Bay Lightning

Jon Cooper has been the head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning since the 2013-14 season, and all he has done since his arrival is win games. His respective general managers have spent $536.15 million on players for him and his staff to work with, which is 9th among active coaches for 15th in the overall study. Cooper just led his team back to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second consecutive season with last night’s win over the New York Islanders (6/25) and is looking to become the first coach since Mike Sullivan with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017 to win back-to-back championships. In eight seasons with the Lightning, Jon Cooper has only registered one negative team AB score in 2016-17. Since that year, he has had four consecutive positive team AB seasons including two +100 team AB scores in 2017-18 and 2018-19, which were also the two highest scores in Lightning team AB history. The average AB score of a Jon Cooper Tampa Bay Lightning team is +55.23, which illustrates the Lightning’s sustained success perfectly over Cooper’s eight-year tenure. Positive AB teams have won the Stanley Cup 12/13 times, and the higher AB team in the Stanley Cup Final won the championship 11/13 years. If history repeats itself (which it didn’t in the case of the Vegas Golden Knights we referenced in our last article,) the Tampa Bay Lightning should win the Stanley Cup over the Montreal Canadiens, making Cooper’s team officially back-to-back champs. Cooper’s sum of ranges number of +271 is the 4th highest of all active coaches, and 5th in the overall study, earning him a coaching AB score of an impressive +28.69, which is the 4th highest score in the study. Cooper’s great work continues in the nationality information chart, as his +6.65 average Swedish defenseman AB score, his +8.10 “other” forward AB score, his +6.99 average Russian forward AB score, and his +4.88 defensemen from Finland AB score are all extremely high. The Swedish defenseman number is the best among active coaches and the best in the overall study. The Russian forward number is also the best among active coaches and the 3rd highest in the overall study. The Finland defensemen number is the best among active coaches as well, and the 2nd best in the overall study. Finally, the “other” forward number is the best among active coaches but 9th in the overall study. Cooper’s advantage percentage of 63% is the fourth best among active coaches and 9th best in the overall study, while his return improvement percentage of 45% is tied with Vegas’ Peter DeBoer, as well as Boston’s Bruce Cassidy for 14th among active coaches and 39th in the overall study. We believe Cooper and his team will win the 2020-21 Stanley Cup and become the 2nd back-to-back champion in the modern era. They will have to solve their salary cap issues however, as Nikita Kucherov will be fully healthy and not LTIR eligible during the 2021-22 campaign. This will cause them to make interesting moves in the expansion process and trade market that we will certainly monitor. Much more to come on this so stay tuned!

#2. Alain Vigneault- Philadelphia Flyers

This one was by far the most surprising result of any of the coaches we have looked at to this point. However, since the gap between Vigneault, Cooper, and Trotz is so tight as of today, we project that after next season, our #1 will remain the same, Cooper will jump to #2, Trotz to #3, and Vigneault down to #4, but for now we can not discount the great work AV has done. Alain Vigneault has been the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers for the last two seasons (2019-20 and 2020-21) after previous gigs with the New York Rangers (2013-14 to 2017-18) and Vancouver Canucks (2007-08 to 2012-13). Vigneault is one of two coaches to have coached for 13/14 years of our database’s existence, for the three different clubs we just referenced. His respective general managers have spent $780.84 million on players for him and his staff to work with, which is the 3rd highest among all active coaches as well as 4th in the overall study. His results in Vancouver were outstanding, as he led the Canucks to a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in the 2010-11 season. In his six seasons with the team, the Canucks only registered one negative team AB score in 2007-08. However, the +122.60 score they earned in the 2010-11 season was the highest a Canucks team has ever registered in the history of the AB metric. We also find it very interesting that the Canucks haven’t even come anywhere near a positive team AB score since Vigneault left the team, as their last recorded positive score was +9.09 in 2012-13. The average team AB score of an Alain Vigneault Canucks team was a +47.89. His impressive ways continued during his tenure with the Rangers, as they also registered their highest team AB score of +122.63 under Coach Vigneault in 2014-15. Vigneault also led the Rangers to a Stanley Cup Finals appearance during the 2013-14 season. In his five years with the team, the Rangers only registered one negative team AB score under Vigneault, and their average team AB score during that span was +35.91. Vigneault’s time in Philadelphia got off to a great start, as the team’s +41.89 score in his first season was a +126.48 point improvement from the –94.31 score the Flyers registered in 2017-18. This season however, that number dopped back to -91.19, which is the second worst score of any Alain Vigneault team in the history of our database. Vigneault’s sum of ranges number of +302 is the 2nd highest among active coaches behind only the #1 coach in our rankings and 3rd in the overall study, earning him a solid +29.06 individual coaches AB score, good for 3rd on in the overall study as well. His nationality data chart information almost consists only of positive averages, as his +4.95 average defenseman from Finland AB score, his +4.72 “other” average forwards AB score, and his +3.30 “other” average defensemen AB score were the ones that stood out the most. The Finland defensemen number is the 5th best among active coaches, as well as 8th best in the overall study. The “other” defensemen number is 2nd among active coaches behind only Boston’s Bruce Cassidy and the “other” forward number is 4th of all active coaches and 5th in the overall study. Vigneault’s advantage percentage of 60% is 10th among active head coaches and 16th in the overall study, while is return improvement percentage of 46% is 13th among active coaches and 37th in the overall study. The Philadelphia Flyers are definitely a team we could see rebounding after their awful season this year.

#1- Joel Quenneville- Florida Panthers

Now time for the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Kudos to those people that read all fourteen thousand words up to this point. Joel Quenneville has been the head coach of the Florida Panthers for two seasons now (2019-20 and 2020-21) after a Hall of Fame tenure with the Chicago Blackhawks (2008-09 to 2017-18) and a year with the Colorado Avalanche (2007-08). His respective general managers have spent $781.96 million on players for him and his staffs to work with, which is 2nd among active coaches, trailing only Barry Trotz, and good for 3rd in the overall study. The results of Quenneville’s work in Colorado was a +5.77 team AB score, which would be their only positive score until Nathan MacKinnon’s rookie season in 2013-14. Most people know about Quenneville’s results in Chicago, as the Blackhawks won three Stanley Cups in a six-year time span. The three cup winning teams AB scores were three of the four highest registered Blackhawks team AB scores in the history of the metric, as the fourth was also a Joel Quenneville team in the 2013-14 Hawks. Quenneville’s Blackhawks registered positive team AB seasons in nine of his ten of his years with the club, for an average team AB score of +61.67 over that same decade span, one of the best of any franchise at any point in the database. The Blackhawks have also failed to register a single positive team AB score since firing Quenneville for Jeremy Colliton fifteen games into the 2018-19 regular season. So far, in Florida, we are starting to see Quenneville’s impact on the Panthers’ team AB scores quite clearly, as he took a -99.60 score registered by the 2018-19 Panthers and turned it into a -19.09 score in 2019-20 for an +80.51 point improvement, and then took that same -19.09 and turned that into a +27.32 score this past season. In total, Quenneville improved the Panthers up +126.92 points in two seasons and registered the best score by a Panthers team in the history of our metric, which earned him a Jack Adams Award nomination this season. Quenneville’s sum of ranges of +411 is the best among active coaches as well as the best in the overall study, earning him a +43.78 individual coaches AB score, which is also the best in the overall study. Quenneville’s nationality chart information is also one of the most impressive of the ninety-six coaches in our study, as his +2.98 average Canadian forward AB score, his +2.33 average Swedish defenseman AB score, his +4.64 “other” forward AB score, and his +2.79 average American forward score stood out the most. The Canadian forward number is the 4th best among active coaches and the 4th best in the overall study. The Swedish defenseman number is the 5th best among active coaches and 8th in the overall study. His “other” forward number is also the 5th best among active coaches and the 7th best in the overall study. Lastly, his American forward number is 3rd among active head coaches, and 6th in the overall study. Quenneville’s advantage percentage of 65% is 2nd among active head coaches behind only Seattle’s Dave Hakstol, and 6th in the overall study. A 65% score across a thirteen-year career is incredibly impressive, and his return improvement percentage of 49% over the same span is equally as impressive give that it’s the 8th highest among active coaches and 25th in the overall study.

This concludes our explanation of our new coach’s metric as well as the rankings of the twenty-nine coaches we have data available for as of today. We thank you for taking the time to read all the way through this massive study, as this is the product of a year’s worth of hard work, heavy thinking, and dedication. The next project we will work on is the GM evaluations similar to what we just finished doing with this project, as well as the highly anticipated Seattle Kraken research and Vegas Golden Knights reflection work. Our job is far from over here at hockeyfreeforall.com, as we are only getting started in our coverage this summer. We hope you enjoyed this study and hope you will stick around the website for the multitude of projects soon to be released. Again, thank you for your time and stay tuned. So much more to come.

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