According to a couple of sources, it appears as though the Sharks' coaching search is over as the team is set to name former New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers bench boss Pete DeBoer as the ninth head coach in franchise history. DeBoer, 46, was fired by New Jersey last December after 248 regular season games and 24 playoff contests, all coming during the 2012 postseason when he led the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final, following a three-season stint behind Florida's bench.
Despite a distinct lack of talent up front, especially following the departures of Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk, DeBoer's Devils teams were consistently among the league's most suffocating defensive clubs prior to the 2014-15 season. From 2012 through 2014, no team in the NHL allowed fewer five-on-five shot attempts per minute than New Jersey while only the Kings and Blackhawks, both Cup winners over that span, were better in terms of overall puck possession. DeBoer doesn't deserve all the credit for that as the Devils' trademark trapping style has led to terrific defensive results throughout Lou Lamoriello's tenure regardless of who's been behind the bench, but DeBoer at least deserves credit for not hindering that process despite some very unimpressive rosters.
At the same time, none of those Devils teams following the Cup run made the playoffs due in large part to Martin Brodeur's sharp decline and an inability to score in the shootout, but also courtesy one of the worst five-on-five shooting percentages in the NHL which may have partially been a factor of DeBoer's conservative, dump-and-chase heavy style of play. Fairly or not, DeBoer has also earned a reputation as a poor handler of young players which makes him a bit of a curious choice for a team ostensibly undergoing a rebuild.
Still, there are plenty of things to like about DeBoer's tenure in New Jersey and there's no doubt this is a vastly better choice than some of the other names the Sharks were considering like Adam Oates and Randy Carlyle. Whether DeBoer will be able to adapt his system to a roster that boasts more offensive talent than the Devils and whether he'll be willing to work with young players like Tomas Hertl and Mirco Mueller as they develop rather than scratching them at the first sign of trouble remains to be seen but it's worth keeping in mind he's still a relatively young coach capable of learning from past mistakes. In truth, with Mike Babcock off the board, there wasn't much in the way of elite coaching talent available and at the very least the Sharks were able to avoid a potentially disastrous misstep like Carlyle or Oates.