The Nashville Predators have fired head coach John Hynes and have hired Andrew Brunette to be their new head coach. The coaching change marks the first significant move as the Predators transition into the Barry Trotz-led era of their organization. The team missed the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons while losing in the first round or qualifying round in the 2020 bubble every year since 2019.
Andrew Brunette Before the Predators
Brunette became interim head coach of the Florida Panthers during the 2021-22 season. During his short, one-year stint as head coach, the team posted a 58-18-6 under his guidance. Those 75 games with the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Panthers are the only games where he was head coach. His other coaching experience comes from being the assistant coach with the Minnesota Wild, Panthers, and, most recently, with the New Jersey Devils during the 2022-23 season. He has been fantastic at reconstructing power plays throughout his coaching tenure.
The Devils hired Brunette to a three-year contract for the 2022-23 season. The season before he joined their organization, they had a bottom-five power play, scoring at a 15.62 percent clip. During his first season with the Devils, their power play became a well-oiled machine, producing at a 21.9 percent rate, good for 13th in the NHL. The Devils averaged 3.52 goals per game this season, primarily due to Brunette. While the Predators may not have the high-end scoring weapons that the Devils do, Brunette should help the Preds raise their offensive ceiling, potentially breaking into the top 20 of scoring in the NHL.
Brunette Will Help Improve Predators Offense
The Predators had a bleak offence this past season. They finished 28th in goals for, 23rd in shots on goal and had a power-play percentage of 17.6, good for 27 out of 32 teams. Brunette’s offensively-minded coaching style will benefit the Predators, which should help fix some of their scoring woes. With the youth movement in full swing, a coach like Brunette should be able to help players like Luke Evangelista, Tommy Novak, Philip Tomasino, Joakim Kemell, and other budding stars develop their offensive skills better than under Hynes.
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The Predators were only one of two teams not to have a player reach the 60-point mark. Roman Josi scored 59 points this season, leading the team in scoring. The NHL has become a higher-scoring league over the years, but the Predators have struggled to adapt to the new wave of hockey. Hiring Brunette is the Predators finally attempting to adapt to the new NHL. Evidence of a defense-first mentality not working anymore can be seen with the Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes arguably had the best defense in the NHL this season, allowing the second-least goals per game and having the best penalty kill. The issue for the Canes is their scoring drying up in the playoffs, despite their fantastic defense. The Predators could still have a lousy offense next season, but with Brunette, that is less of a likelihood.
John Hynes, now former head coach of the Predators, was a controversial figure among fans. During his four seasons as head coach, the team made the playoffs three years, losing in the first round each time. While injuries to every major player this season hurt their playoff odds, the Predators still proved to be a massive disappointment. Blaming Hynes for the injuries is unfair, but their inability to adapt while having one of the worst offenses in the NHL does fall on his shoulders.
Trotz wanted to make the Predators his team when he took over, and evidently, Hynes did not fit in his future plans. The Predators’ offense should be better next season, and while the playoffs may be more hopeful than realistic, the on-ice product should be much more fun to watch with Brunette behind the bench.