Canucks reportedly show interest in Marlies coach Dallas Eakins

The season is over, so the pickings are very slim for posts. We’ll have some stuff later this week on the contract that the Leafs should give to Nazem Kadri. Meanwhile, Jeffler is digging around some team data in all the Maple Leafs games this year. Maybe we’ll talk about the Eastern Conference Finals. Probably not, since people seem to think that because the Leafs were impressive against Boston, had they held on in Game 7 then they would have had as easy a time against the New York Rangers as the Bruins did.

The only major Leafs news out of the weekend was more Canucks-related. Vancouver fired their head coach of seven years Alain Vigneault, and a lot of names have been rumoured to be the replacement. One of them appears to be Dallas Eakins.

The Vancouver Canucks are asking about Dallas Eakins.

The Canucks have requested permission from the Toronto Maple Leafs to talk to Eakins, head coach of the Marlies, about their job opening, according to Hockey Night in Canada.

Eakins is widely viewed as a prime NHL coaching prospect after four seasons behind the bench with the Marlies, helping develop such NHL talent as Nazem Kadri, James Reimer and Jake Gardiner. He has been the Marlies head coach since 2009 and has two years left on a three-year AHL deal that includes a clause allowing him to consider NHL opportunities this summer.

And that would be the extent of Eakins’ credentials that I’d have been made aware of. There’s some handwringing in Toronto about the decision to hire Randy Carlyle when Eakins is clearly going to be an NHL coach someday, and may as well have done it in an organization where he knows a pile of the players. It’s not just Kadri, Reimer and Gardiner (how could Eakins be responsible for a goaltender’s development?) but a good portion of Maple Leafs this season had some AHL experience with the Marlies.

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Matt Frattin, Carl Gunnarsson and Tyler Bozak would be the major omissions, but Ryan Hamilton and Joe Colborne have of course been up and down (or East and West, if you’re looking at Toronto’s geography) this season and have experience dealing with Eakins.

Eakins made headlines in the fall when he criticized the shape that Nazem Kadri was in (round is a shape) and is also complicit in some of the organizational issues the Leafs have run into in regard to head hits and concussions. That said, the Marlies have had success under him despite not an awful lot of top-tier talent on the squad. The Leafs have had a thin prospect cupboard for years, but Eakins provided Carlyle will plenty of re-inforcements this season, as guys like Hamilton and Colborne stepped into depth roles on the club during the playoffs.

Nothing’s finalized yet, of course, but the general worry is that eventually, Eakins will leave the organization, and will coach a team not in Toronto. Perhaps that’s this summer. Dallas has a vacancy to fill, and perhaps the New York Rangers will as well.

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