When the Rangers' brass gathers for organizational meetings in La Quinta, Calif., starting Monday, the agenda will be wide-ranging and critical to mapping the future of the franchise.
Topping the list will be the search for a head coach, with perhaps a new candidate: Dan Bylsma. With the Bruins sweeping the Penguins, who scored only two goals -- none by Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin -- in four games in the Eastern Conference finals, speculation began late Friday that Bylsma, who has a year left on his contract in Pittsburgh, will be dismissed.
One candidate who received permission to speak with the Rangers seems to be off the market. The Edmonton Oilers fired Ralph Krueger Saturday, and TSN, citing sources, said Dallas Eakins, the highly regarded coach of the AHL's Toronto Marlies, has an agreement in place to assume the job.
If available, Bylsma, 42, would be the youngest of the experienced bench bosses on the market, a list that includes former Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, former Sabres coach Lindy Ruff and John Tortorella, who was fired by the Rangers on May 29.
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, whose contract ends June 30, prefers staying in Arizona if the on-again, off-again ownership situation can be resolved this month. Former Lightning coach Guy Boucher and former Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice also are available. The Canucks and Stars also have job openings.
Bylsma won the Stanley Cup in 2009 just four months after he replaced Michel Therrien. This year, he got to 200 wins faster than any other NHL coach.
But since winning the Stanley Cup, the Penguins have lost in the conference semifinals once and the quarterfinals twice before being swept in the conference finals this year. This season's ouster came after the front office went all in with the acquisitions of Jarome Iginla, Jussi Jokinen, Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray before the trade deadline. Penguins chairman Mario Lemieux and general manager Ray Shero had no immediate comment on Bylsma's future.
Vigneault, believed to be the front-runner, reportedly is one of the candidates to have received a short questionnaire from the Rangers, TSN reported. Mark Messier -- special assistant to president and GM Glen Sather for four years -- has no significant coaching experience but has thrown his hat in the ring.
As important as the coach is the contract extension of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, entering the final year of his deal, which Sather has said will get done. A buyout of Brad Richards' contract, which has $36 million remaining, needs to be weighed, as well as new deals for restricted free agents Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin and Mats Zuccarello.
The salary cap will drop from $70.2 million to $64.3 million. The Rangers currently have about $14 million in cap space, with about half targeted for restricted free agents next season.
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