The 2020-21 NHL season was a campaign to forget for the Buffalo Sabres. In a season that was marred by injury problems and uncertainty about Jack Eichel’s future, the Sabres finished with a 15-34-7 record that saw them miss the playoffs for the 10th straight year. Now, with the 1st overall pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, the organization hopes that the future will start to look brighter. However, one of the important steps in that process is figuring out who will be the next full-time head coach.
After going 6-18-4 in the first 28 games of the season, the Buffalo Sabres relieved Ralph Krueger of his head coaching duties. They then replaced him with Don Granato as the interim coach for the remainder of the campaign. While he had coached in lower leagues before, this was Granato’s first crack at an NHL time. Buffalo ended up having a 9-16-3 recorded under him, which was a slight improvement over what Krueger did. However, was it enough to warrant a return?
Bovada seems to think so. At +130 odds, Granato is favored to be the next Sabres full-time coach. It may just come down to management liking what he did with the team in the second half of the 2020-21 season. Sometimes, it takes time and experience for a team to gel together under the right coach. If Granato can continue to get his team to buy into his vision, Buffalo shouldn’t be nearly as bad as it was last season. Nevertheless, even if the odds are in his favor, nothing is guaranteed.
Here’s a look at the rest of Bovada’s odds on the situation.
Buffalo Sabres Odds: Who Will Be the Next Full-Time Coach?
Odds via Bovada as of Thursday, June 10
- Don Granato (+130)
- John Tortorella (+350)
- Gerard Gallant (+500)
- Bruce Boudreau (+600)
- Mike Babcock (+700)
- Claude Julien (+800)
- Rick Tocchet (+900)
Tortorella the Next Leading Candidate
Since parting ways with the Columbus Blue Jackets once their season came to an end, John Tortorella’s name has been thrown around as a candidate for any team with a head coach vacancy. Now, he has +350 odds to be the next Buffalo Sabres bench boss.
Regardless of what people say about his personality, Tortorella has a proven track record of success. He has a Stanley Cup and two Jack Adams Awards under his belt. Yes, he does wear out his welcome everywhere he goes, but Tortorella does have a history of helping turn teams around. When he first arrived in Columbus in 2015-16, the Blue Jackets had only made the playoffs twice in the franchise’s existence. However, they qualified for the postseason four times in six seasons under Tortorella’s watch. Surely, the Buffalo Sabres would welcome those results.
Could Gallant End Up Joining the Buffalo Sabres?
One of the most highly-touted available head coaches happens to be Gerard Gallant. The 2017-18 Jack Adams recipient just won a gold medal at the IIHF World Championships with a Team Canada roster that a lot of people thought couldn’t get it done. Following that performance, he now has +500 odds to be the next full-time coach of the Buffalo Sabres.
While Gallant may not have a Stanley Cup under his belt, he’s succeeded with underestimated teams in the past. Nobody thought that the Vegas Golden Knights would be good in their inaugural season, but Gallant coached them all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. That’s not to say the Sabres will go on a championship run next season, but it would be interesting to see how much he could get out of their underperforming core.
One thing that might be an obstacle is that Gallant met with the New York Rangers before ahead of the world championship. If the Rangers are still high on him following his gold medal victory, the Sabres may have to look elsewhere.