If you’re Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach Spencer Carbery, you have to feel good about your chances of becoming an NHL head coach for the 2023-24 season.
The 41-year-old has seen his name pop up in all kinds of rumours since the Maple Leafs were eliminated by the Florida Panthers in the second round of the playoffs.
Carbery has interviewed with the New York Rangers, reportedly met with the Washington Capitals, and spoken with the Anaheim Ducks. He’s also one of the candidates to take over in Toronto if Sheldon Keefe is shown the door.
While Carbery is far from a household name, it makes sense that he’s caught the NHL’s attention.
Over the last two years in Toronto, he’s been at the helm of a power play that’s scored at a 26.6% rate — making it the second-best unit in the NHL. In 2021-22 and 2022-23, the Maple Leafs had their two best power-play percentages in franchise history.
Carbery obviously has some elite offensive talent to work with, but the Maple Leafs had never topped 23.8% in the Auston Matthews era and the team ranked 16th in the NHL in power-play success rate the year before he arrived.
Prior to his work with Toronto, Carbery built an excellent resume as an AHL head coach, putting up a 104-50-9-8 record and winning the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award in 2021, which recognized him as the league’s most outstanding coach that season. He won another coach of the year award at the ECHL level in 2014.
The combination of Carbery’s work with the Maple Leafs and his coaching accolades at lower levels put him in good standing around the NHL. He also has a few other qualities that make him appealing. At the age of 41, teams may feel like he has a better chance to connect with his players, and he played pro hockey with three years of ECHL action under his belt.
Based on the Maple Leafs’ consistent playoff underperformance over the last few years, they aren’t an intuitive candidate to poach coaching talent from. That said, Carbery profiles as an appealing candidate to NHL teams thanks to his power-play pedigree and record of success at lower levels.
The NHL offseason is still weeks away from kicking into high gear, but Carbery’s name already has plenty of buzz attached to it.