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Head Coach Hunt: Todd Nelson

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The current Dallas Stars assistant will get a shot at the bench in Anaheim.

Edmonton Oilers v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Todd Nelson

Age: 49

NHL Record: 17-22-7

AHL Record: 294-153-54

After a story from Eric Stephens of The Athletic on the Ducks head coaching search suggested current Dallas Stars assistant Todd Nelson as a candidate, TSN’s Bob McKenzie confirmed that he would indeed be getting an interview with Bob Murray.

While the prevalent feeling amongst league executives is that Eakins is the presumed bench-boss-to-be in Anaheim, recent reporting has cast some doubt on that assumption. Lane Lambert had previously been confirmed to have an interview lined up with Murray, and now Nelson is the fourth candidate we know for a fact to be in the mix, along with the recently added Rick Bowness.

Currently an assistant under Head Coach Jim Montgomery for the Dallas Stars, Todd Nelson has had plenty of AHL head coaching experience. The most successful stint saw him lead the Grand Rapids Griffins (DET) to a Calder Cup title in 2017. He was also known for running effective power play units in Grand Rapids and running overwhelming offensive systems focusing on getting a high volume of shots to the net.

Outside of assistant stints with the Atlanta Thrashers and Edmonton, his only head coaching experience came with the Oilers in 2014-2015, where he ironically took over for the fired Dallas Eakins on an interim basis. After the season, he was passed on for Todd McLellan before he took the job leading the Red Wings affiliate in Grand Rapids.

In his first and only year for the Dallas Stars, Nelson ran their 11th ranked power play and has received some amounts of praise for his work there despite the fact that they received the third-fewest chances with the man-advantage.

While reports are that Ducks ownership would like Eakins to be their guy, Bob Murray is insistent on taking his time and expanding the field of candidates to do his due diligence, ensuring that the best available pick is made. Given that Murray’s fate is likely tied to this hire and the fact that it will probably be his final one, it makes sense that he would want to take his time.

The trend is also clear that Murray is looking for relatively new blood with little-to-no NHL head coaching experience. The AHL isn’t only a development league for players, and Murray is proving that the league is ripe with fresh coaching talent ready to make the leap to to the NHL.