Ranking the Islanders’ 3 best replacements for Barry Trotz

Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello shocked the NHL world on Monday, announcing that he was relieving head coach Barry Trotz of his duties. 

New York is coming off a disappointing 2021-22 season, missing the playoffs for the first time under Trotz after going 37-35-10, finishing fifth in the Metropolitan Division. It was Trotz’s fourth season as head coach of the Islanders. 

New York may have underperformed this season, but made it to the Eastern Conference finals in 2020 and were one game away from a Stanley Cup appearance last season before falling in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup semifinals. 

Lamoriello explained that the reasoning behind the firing was that he believed the players “need a new voice.” 

The news shakes up the NHL coaching world. Now, one of the best head coaches is on the market. Trotz has the third-most wins in NHL history with 914, in addition to a Stanley Cup win under his belt. 

MORE: Why did the Islanders fire Barry Trotz?

For the Islanders, the search for Trotz’s replacement begins. Here is a look at some potential candidates for the Islanders’ head coaching job. 

Potential head coaching candidates for the Islanders

1. Lane Lambert

This list should have one man and one man only on it, and it’s Lambert. 

The associate head coach for the Islanders has been one of the top targets for other head coaching vacancies, but he makes the most sense for the Islanders to make head coach. What made the Islanders so successful before this season was their defense. There may not be a man that knows Trotz’s system better than Lambert. 

Lambert, 57, was with Trotz during his time with the Predators and the Capitals, helping Washington win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 2018. In total, he has been Trotz’s right-hand man for over a decade. 

Lamoriello may want to go outside the current coaching staff for Trotz’s successor, however, if he does not promote Lambert, he runs the risk of likely losing Lambert as well. He can keep the defensive system that was the main cog behind the Islanders’ playoff runs in 2020 and 2021, while getting a new voice in the head coaching role. 

MORE: Islanders 2022 offseason outlook

2. David Quinn

You want a new voice that will resonate with younger players? Quinn checks those boxes. 

Quinn, 55, coached the Rangers for three seasons before he was fired last summer. It was his first head coaching gig in the NHL after he was hired from Boston University, compiling a record of 96-87-25. While he did not have a position in the NHL this season, he coached Team USA at the 2022 Winter Olympics, who was the youngest team in Beijing. The national team swept their group play before falling in the preliminary round.  

A major issue with Trotz was his perceived unwillingness to give budding forward Oliver Wahlstrom more playing time. Wahlstrom is a player with a high offensive ceiling, but defensive liabilities. That is not a fit for Trotz’s system. 

Quinn is itching to get back into the NHL and could be the fresh point of view Lamoriello is looking for. 

MORE: NHL playoffs schedule 2022: Full bracket, dates, times, TV channels

3. Alain Vigneault

How about replacing one veteran NHL coach with another? Vigneault was fired by the Flyers in December of the 2021-22 season after the team started off slow. However, they failed to perform after Vigneault’s departure, so perhaps less of it was on AV and more on the team itself. 

Vigneault, 60, has 19 years as an NHL coach under his belt. He spent four seasons with the Canadiens, seven seasons with the Canucks and five with the Rangers. His 722 wins rank eighth all-time on the NHL coaching list. 

He’s been to two Stanley Cup finals, but failed to get the Cup in either season. Given Vigneault extensive time in the Metropolitan Division, Lamoriello has had plenty of time to observe Vigneault’s teams. Perhaps there is something there to the GM’s liking.