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Report: Predators to bring in Andrew Brunette as next head coach

Former Panthers interim head coach was hired by Devils this past season.

Associate coach Andrew Brunette of the New Jersey Devils works the bench against the New York Islanders at the Prudential Center on December 09, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey. The Islanders defeated the Devils 6-4. Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Nashville Predators are set to hire Andrew Brunette as their next head coach, per Kevin Weekes of NHL Network. Brunette was hired by the New Jersey Devils before the 2022-23 season as associate head coach under Lindy Ruff. Brunette had been let go by the current Eastern Conference champion Florida Panthers after last season, when he was named interim head coach in place of Joel Quenneville. The Predators let go of head coach John Hynes after this season.

Nashville failed to qualify for the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs after making it in eight straight seasons. The Predators had made the playoffs in every season under Hynes after he took over for Peter Laviolette back in 2019-20. Nashville has made the playoffs in 15 of 24 seasons since coming into the NHL back in 1998. The Preds made their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final in 2017, losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Brunette was tasked with improving the Devils offense and power play during this past season. While New Jersey made strides in the standings, the power play was still somewhat disappointing, finishing middle of the pack. The Devils offense did improve but that could have been a product of Jack Hughes and a healthy roster. Brunette also had a bit of a run in with the law after being arrested for a DUI while driving a golf cart in Florida. That could have played a factor in New Jersey allowing Brunette to go elsewhere after he was hired, seemingly as the heir to the HC job if/when Ruff steps down.

The Predators have an interesting roster. You have a core centered around a few aging veterans and Filip Forsberg, who is signed through 2029-30. The defense is anchored by Norris Trophy winner Roman Josi and Ryan McDonagh. The Preds are set in goal with Juuse Saros, who should get a contract extension after next season. You also have a few promising young forwards in Tommy Novak, Philip Tomasino, Cody Glass, Juuso Parssinen and Yakov Trenin. It will be a bit of a work in progress, but Nashville can get back to the postseason sooner rather than later if things go well under Brunette.