Dave Hakstol makes a speech after accepting the Herb Brooks Coach of the Year from Dan Brooks at the NCHC Awards Celebration at the Muse Event Center on Thursday, March 19, 2015, in Minneapolis, Minn.
Rookie head coach Dave Hakstol has made the jump from UND of the NCAA to the NHL with the Flyers.
As shown from HockeyDB, he’s been quite successful at the NCAA level having compiled quite the solid record as coach in 11 seasons behind the UND bench. He’s also coached notable NHL names such as Travis Zajac, TJ Oshie and Jonathan Toews among others.
Of course, the college game and NHL game are a bit different, so aside from the obvious learning curve, what can we expect from Hakstol this season.
Our very own Jess Schmidt was able to break down Hakstol’s system in an earlier post on this site. So we’ll have an idea from there as to what Hakstol does strategically.
Also, since Hakstol retained the assistant coaches, it’s likely special teams will be run the same way as they were under Craig Berube. So there should be no real change there.
Given Hakstol’s attention to speed and detail, it’s likely to be a long season for RJ Umberger and Vinny Lecavalier who no longer have the legs and speed to keep up with the game. It’s very possible that both of them find themselves in the pressbox rather quickly this season in favor of younger, faster players.
Hopefully Hakstol will improve deployment issues found under his predecessor. Hakstol should find himself able to play the younger prospects more than Berube did. Also, Hakstol should be able to find a way to help Sean Couturier find offensive minutes to improve his scoring.
Hakstol will likely be given credit for the rebound of Matt Read despite the fact that Read’s issues are likely the result of playing through an ankle injury for most of the season.
From the game in Jess’s piece, Hakstol showed a system based on puck carrying rather than dump and chase. This is something that will be very useful in the NHL game as carrying the puck is a more effective method for generating scoring chances than dump and chase.
One thing to realistically assume is that Hakstol will need some time to adjust to coaching men instead of boys, but of course he has shown the ability to have winning tactics which means he’s likely able to adapt and adjust when the going gets tough.
The best part about Hakstol is, if he succeeds he might make terrible contracts like Lecavalier, Umberger and MacDonald tradeable, and that alone would be the biggest realistically possible win for Hakstol this season.