With a resume of over 1,000 NHL games as a player and many years spent as an assistant coach or in senior hockey roles, it’s no surprise Andrew Brunette is the odds-on favorite to be named the next full-time head coach of the Florida Panthers.
Online sportsbook Bovada lists Brunette (-130) as the clear front-runner for the full-time Panthers coaching gig. The list of other potential candidates is impressive and filled with experienced coaches, including some who have won Stanley Cup rings as an NHL head coach already.
Odds To Become Next Permanent Head Coach Of The Florida Panthers
Odds as of December 2 at Bovada
Why Brunette Will Be Named Panthers’ Permanent Head Coach
As playing careers for NHL head coaches go, Andrew Brunette had a very good one. A seventh-round pick in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, Brunette was extremely durable, playing at least 77 games in 13 consecutive seasons and recording over 700 career points.
After his playing career, Brunette joined the Minnesota Wild organization and held several different senior roles for the club. He was an adviser before becoming an assistant coach and then eventually the assistant general manager.
Brunette jumped to Florida in 2019 and immediately became an assistant coach for the Panthers. The Sudbury, Ontario native appears well-liked by Panthers players and he inherits a very talented roster that has performed to expectations during his short stint as the interim head coach.
Florida had a strong start to the season and there is no reason to expect the team to slow down any time soon. Many believe that once the Panthers have done their due diligence with all the candidates, it will be Brunette who is left standing behind the Florida bench.
Florida Panthers Head Coach Alternative Options
Despite not having a permanent head coach currently in place, the Panthers have had such a great start to the season that their odds to win the Stanley Cup have dropped significantly since opening night.
The lineup of potential candidates who would be eager to coach this group is long with experienced veterans who have achieved great success at the NHL level already.
John Tortorella (+500)
Tortorella is the winningest American-born coach in NHL history. The two-time Jack Adams Award winner has a head coaching resume that dates back to 1999 when he first took over behind the New York Rangers bench. Not only does Tortorella have a lot of previous success in multiple organizations but he has connections to several key Panthers personnel.
Florida general manager Bill Zito was in the Columbus organization during Tortorella’s time as the Blue Jackets head coach. Current Panthers Sergei Bobrovsky and Anthony Duclair both played for Tortorella in Columbus as well. There was a time when some considered Tortorella the favorite for this job.
Dan Bylsma (+700)
Bylsma last coached in the NHL during the 2016-17 season. The former Penguins and Sabres head coach quietly amassed 320 career wins in just under eight seasons and hoisted the Stanley Cup while coaching in Pittsburgh. Bylsma won the Jack Adams Award in 2010 and is currently an assistant coach in the AHL.
Mike Babcock (+1400)
Any head coach who has won a world championship gold medal, an Olympic gold medal and a Stanley Cup will have his name raised when NHL coaching vacancies arise. Babcock won a Stanley Cup as a head coach in Anaheim and then again in Detroit, before not getting a chance to finish out his contract in Toronto. The native of Saskatoon is now coaching the University of Saskatchewan Huskies program.
Rikard Gronborg (+2000)
Gronborg is the clear long shot on this list. The current ZSC Lions head coach in the Swiss National League has been rumored for open NHL coaching positions before. It is believed Gronborg was in consideration for the Buffalo Sabres job before they ultimately hired Don Granato. At +2000, if the analytically minded Gronborg is named Panthers head coach, those who risk a wager on him will be well rewarded.
The Florida Panthers are loaded with talent and many expect them to perform well regardless of who is behind their bench. Players like Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad, who is a serious Norris Trophy candidate, will lead this team to great results.
Brunette at -130 makes so much sense. His resume and experience both on the ice and in various senior hockey roles had him on a trajectory to be an NHL head coach one day.
There is definitely value in names like Tortorella, Babcock and Gronborg, who are all paying out at big plus-money odds, but my money will be on Brunette remaining the man behind the bench in Florida.