Maple Leafs assistant coach D.J. Smith could draw interest from NHL teams

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With potential off-season salary cap issues looming, the Toronto Maple Leafs roster is sure to undergo some alterations in the summer.

Mike Babcock’s coaching staff may look different as well, as assistant D.J. Smith could draw interest from NHL teams in the market for a new head coach, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported Saturday during the Headlines segment of Hockey Night in Canada.

“Many believe D.J. Smith had the job with the New York Islanders until Barry Trotz became available,” Kypreos said before adding that the Ottawa Senators could be one of the teams interested.

The Sens recently fired Guy Boucher and Marc Crawford is serving as interim coach. Elliotte Friedman explained that prior to Ottawa hiring Boucher back in 2016 the club had asked the Maple Leafs for permission to speak with Smith but that request was rejected by Toronto.

Bill Peters, Todd McLellan, and Paul MacLean are among Babcock’s former assistants who over the years landed head coaching gigs of their own. Smith could be the next one.

“The thing with D.J. is, in my opinion, he’s going to be a good NHL head coach,” Babcock said one year ago. “I always look when I’m hiring for serial winners. Wherever they’ve gone, they’ve won. That means something. Did you win in the playoff time? Were you able to deliver?”

Smith spent three years as head coach of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals where he won a championship in 2014-15 prior to joining the Maple Leafs for the 2015-16 campaign.

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