NHL team that landed best draft lottery odds moves on from coach

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

The Anaheim Ducks slumped down the stretch to finish last in the league and gain the best odds for the NHL draft lottery.

But Dallas Eakins won’t be around to coach Connor Bedard if the Ducks manage to land the top overall pick on May 8 and draft the generational talent.

The Ducks announced Friday that the team wasn’t renewing Eakins contract after he had spent four seasons with the parent club and eight in the organization.

“This was a very difficult decision, one that comes after careful and considerable deliberation,” Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek said in a statement. “At the end of the day, I simply feel that a fresh perspective and new voice will be beneficial for the team. Dallas has handled himself with class and character through a difficult season, and we wish him the best in the future.”

Follow every game: Latest NHL Scores and Schedules

Verbeek, who was hired in February 2022, inherited Eakins as coach. After trading away several pending unrestricted free agents that season, Verbeek made offseason moves to try to improve on the team’s 76-point finish.

Veterans Ryan Strome, Frank Vatrano, John Klingberg and Dmitry Kulikov were added to help bring along youngsters Troy Terry, Travis Zegras, Mason McTavish and Jamie Drysdale. But Drysdale suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in October.

With the team struggling, Verbeek moved defensemen Klingberg and Kulikov at the trade deadline. Anaheim had only three wins after the deadline and went 0-11-2 down the stretch to finish with a league-worst 58 points and 13 regulation wins. The Ducks ranked second-to-last in power play and penalty kill and last in goal differential (-129).

Eakins, who previously coached the Edmonton Oilers, finished his Ducks tenure with a 100-147-44 record.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY