The Buffalo Sabres’ coaching search is moving forward after the club fell short on landing high-profile candidate Mike Babcock.
The Sabres reportedly received permission to speak with Dan Bylsma and the club will visit with the former Pittsburgh Penguins bench boss later this week, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
Bylsma, 44, is considered to be one of the top available coaches on the market. The 2010-11 Jack Adams Award winner sat out the 2014-15 season after he was fired by the Penguins following a six-year stint with the club that included one Stanley Cup championship. He posted a 252-117-32 record (.668 win percentage) in 401 regular season games during his tenure in Pittsburgh with a playoff record of 43-35.
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Friedman mentioned that Bylsma could appeal to the Sabres because he worked with highly-touted draft prospect Jack Eichel as assistant for Team USA at the 2015 world championships in Czech Republic. The Sabres own the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and they are widely expected to select Eichel.
Sabres general manager Tim Murray confirmed to WGR Radio earlier in the week that they heavily pursued Babcock before the former Detroit Red Wings coach agreed to an eight-year, $50 million with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“When a team like Toronto is involved, you can never be surprised,” Murray told the local radio station on Thursday. “It’s the Toronto Maple Leafs, it’s in Toronto. … Am I surprised? I don’t even know how to answer that. Nothing surprises me.”
The Sabres are looking for a new head coach this off-season after the club fired coach Ted Nolan, who finished with the worst record in the NHL this past season.