Given the years Mike Babcock, John Tortorella, and Todd McLellan had at the helm of their respective teams, it’s no surprise they were named as nominees for the NHL’s coach of the year award.
The nomination is the third for Babcock, and his first as the head coach of the Maple Leafs. With first overall pick Auston Matthews leading the team, Babcock and Toronto were treated to an Eastern Conference wild card spot. The Maple Leafs were the NHL’s last-place team last year with 69 points, and Babcock elevated them this year to a 95-point finish.
Tortorella’s Blue Jackets swept the league with a 16-game win streak back in December, a far cry from Columbus’ abysmal start to the season prior. After finishing with 76 points last season, the Blue Jackets had their first 100-plus point season in franchise history, ending the 2016-17 season with 108 points.
Rounding out the nominees is McLellan, a bit of a surprise pick but quite deserving nonetheless. The Oilers got back to the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons thanks to a 103-point finish for second place in the Pacific Division. Last year, Edmonton finished with 70 points and 31 wins.
The Jack Adams will be awarded at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 21.