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Devils Implications Could Arise from Maple Leafs Coaching Staff Decisions

If/when the Toronto Maple Leafs make changes to their coaching staff, it could have a trickle effect on who Sheldon Keefe surrounds himself behind the New Jersey Devils’ bench.



New Jersey Devils
Lane Lambert was fired as head coach of the New York Islanders in January, could join Toronto Maple Leafs as an assistant. // AP Photo/John Munson

When the New Jersey Devils addressed their head coaching situation, it closed one door but opened up another.

Who will be the supporting cast around Sheldon Keefe?

Former Devils interim head coach Travis Green remained supported by assistant coaches Sergei Brylin, Ryan McGill, Chris Taylor, and Dave Ragolski when the Devils fired Lindy Ruff back in March.

Now, Keefe is the Devils’ head coach moving forward, and it’s not unreasonable to expect some changes to his left and right.

One assistant who is believed to be safe is Brylin. In fact, he was the only assistant coach in attendance at Keefe’s introductory press conference, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see him remain behind the Devils’ bench.

However, the rest of the coaching staff will be evaluated as Keefe stated last week.

“Very similar [as the players] with the coaching staff. The plan is to spend time with each assistant coach and get a sense of where they’re at and how they feel about the group and how we may be able to work together,” Keefe said. “And then in the appropriate time when I feel comfortable with it, we’ll make some decisions on how we progress as a staff and I’m excited for that. Like I said, there’s a lot of work ahead. But that will be the priority for me — to spend time with both the players and the coaches here in the very near future.”

A factor that could speed up Keefe’s process is how Maple Leafs new head coach, Craig Berube, handles his coaching staff.

According to insider Darren Dreger, the New York Islanders’ former head coach, Lane Lambert, could be joining Berube in Toronto.

“I have heard some names over the last few days, maybe even going into the weekend that are of interest to me, Dreger said via TSN’s First Up. “I’ve heard that Lane Lambert, formerly of the New York Islanders, could join the Toronto Maple Leafs. I assume he would manage the forwards under the guidance of Berube. Mike Van Ryn, I believe is staying with the Maple Leafs, he would help manage the defense. Still a question mark beside Marc Savard.”

After speaking with Maple Leafs reporter Kevin McGran last week, McGran believed all but Van Ryn would be let go of by the Maple Leafs.

Now, Lambert is a name who could be joining Berube, as well as Savard who mutually parted ways with the Calgary Flames a few weeks ago. Brad Lauer is also a name in the running with Toronto.

That means Keefe’s former assistant coaches Guy Boucher and Dean Chynoweth, goaltending coach Curtis Sanford, and Keefe’s former video team in Toronto could all become available on the coaching market.

McGran explained he could see Boucher follow Keefe to New Jersey, as well as Keefe’s video team who he cherished in Toronto.

“Well, I think he likes Guy Boucher [who worked with] the [Toronto] forwards and the six-on-five and the powerplay,” McGran said. “I imagine Boucher will walk the plank [in Toronto]. I think all these guys are gonna walk the plank and Berube will bring in his own staff. He might keep Mike Van Ryn. But, I think [Boucher] would be available. He would probably like to bring his video team if he could because the Leafs’ video team was absolutely amazing. Jordan Bean and a few of the other guys. But those guys tend to be homebodies.”

Boucher ran the Maple Leafs’ power play that was an NHL sixth-best 24.0% last season. After Dougie Hamilton became injured, the Devils’ power play only converted on 16.2%.

Toronto also had the top power play in the NHL during the 2021-22 season, and second-best in 2022-23, although that was before Boucher.

Regardless, given the fact that the Maple Leafs didn’t have a Hamilton-like player to quarterback their power play and he’d be working with players of similar talent to Auston Matthews and William Nylander, Boucher’s availability could serve as a significant upgrade for the Devils.

The 2024 NHL Draft isn’t a hard deadline for Keefe to name his henchmen. However, he and Devils General Manager Tom Fitzgerald will likely want to have the coaching staff sorted by then. However, Berube and the Maple Leafs might have to first decide their path forward before Keefe can poach personnel for himself.

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