There was this coach I heard about. He hadn't yet served as an NHL head coach. His qualifications indicated he was ready to do so.
So like a fan of a new indie band double-checking its coolness with a music snob, I reached out to an NHL team executive to ask how they felt about the guy.
"I don't know why he's on the 'Wow, why doesn't he have a head-coaching job yet?' tier," they said. "If we count NHL assistants and AHL head coaches, there are about 100 guys in the candidate pool. What makes him stand out to you as being among the top of that group?"
I didn't really have an answer. To quote the movie "Major League": Well, cross him off then ...
If last offseason was the NHL's Summer of the Netminder, this one is the Summer of the Bench Boss. As that team executive noted, the number of potential candidates for open jobs could reach triple digits when one factors in former head coaches, current assistant and associate coaches, minor league coaches, junior and NCAA coaches, international coaches and some of those out-of-the-box options, like when Martin St. Louis went from coaching his kids to coaching the Montreal Canadiens this season.
The Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Vegas Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets all have official vacancies; the Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers all currently have interim coaches.
Here is what I'm hearing on some of the top candidates, some other coaches who are being discussed by teams (but probably won't make the cut this year) and some rising coaching candidates to tuck away for the future.