Joel Quenneville is reportedly close to signing a long-term deal to coach Florida, which would mean one less prime candidate for the Flyers’ job.
A source close to the Panthers said the deal with Quenneville was “not done yet,” but that the sides were close and that an announcement could come as early as Monday.
If Quenneville is hired, he would be reunited with former Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon, who is now Florida’s GM. Quenneville won three Stanley Cups with Chicago, and he is high on the Flyers’ wish list.
Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher will address the media Monday on a variety of topics, including the coach search.
Last week, Fletcher said he would name a coach well before the June 21 NHL draft.
Dan Bylsma, hired by Fletcher as Pittsburgh’s AHL coach when he was an assistant GM with the Penguins, Alain Vigneault (648-435-35-98 career record), and Guy Boucher, the former coach at Tampa Bay and Ottawa, are believed to be among the Flyers’ candidates if Quenneville is hired by Florida.
There is also a possibility that interim coach Scott Gordon is elevated to head coach. In exit interviews with the media Sunday, the players strongly supported Gordon.
“I’ll be honest. Gordo did a great job this year,” right winger Jake Voracek said. “He gave us new life and ideas. He is a really good coach.”
Voracek said the playoff deficit Gordon inherited “was too big for us to make up. He’s got a tremendous amount of respect from the players. What kind of coach do we need? I don’t know. Coaches give you ideas, but you as a player have to execute it.”
The Flyers went 25-22-4 under Gordon, including an 18-4-2 run that brought them to within three points of a playoff spot with 13 games left. They had been 16 points behind.
“It’s pretty hard for anyone to come in with the situation he was handed at any level,” goalie Carter Hart said. “So for him to do that at the NHL level and excel really speaks words to his coaching style and how much the guys respect him.”
The Flyers faded down the stretch, losing 10 of their last 13 games.
The Flyers are hoping to jump from No. 10 to No. 1 in Tuesday’s draft lottery in Toronto.
They climbed from No. 13 to No. 2 in the 2017 lottery and selected Nolan Patrick. They had a 2.4 percent chance to draft that high.
On Tuesday, they will have a 3.5 percent chance to land the No. 1 pick. Colorado has the best odds (18.5 percent) to select No. 1. Ottawa had the NHL’s worst record this season, but the Senators traded their No. 1 pick to Colorado.
Center Jack Hughes and right wingers Kaapo Kakko and Vasili Podkolzin are regarded as the draft’s three best players.