Should Flyers be interested in rising coach who oversaw NHL's top power play?


Throughout May and into June, we're looking at potential candidates for the Flyers' head coaching vacancy.

"We're going to sit down and try to build that ideal candidate profile and really keep all options open, maybe look at it from a little broader perspective," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said May 3. "Clearly we have to sit down and really drill down in terms of what we're looking for. I'm sure there will be a lot of quality candidates we'll speak to."

We've looked at Barry TrotzRick TocchetPaul MauriceJim MontgomeryJohn TortorellaPeter DeBoerScott SandelinDavid QuinnKirk Muller and Mike Vellucci. Next up in our series is Spencer Carbery.

Why Carbery would be a fit

At only 40 years old, Carbery is viewed in hockey circles as one of the game's top rising coaches. The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun reported that people around the NHL believe it's only a matter of time until the Maple Leafs' assistant coach starts to be considered for head coaching gigs.

Prior to joining Sheldon Keefe's Toronto staff ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, Carbery was named AHL Coach of the Year last season while leading the Capitals' AHL affiliate Hershey. Over three seasons as head coach of the Bears, Carbery went 104-50-17. The Phantoms play in Hershey's division, so the Flyers saw much of Carbery's work.

Impressively, four years after playing his final game with the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays, Carbery was winning ECHL Coach of the Year with the club.

What could really intrigue the Flyers aside from Carbery's up-and-coming label? His power play prowess.

In his first season with the Maple Leafs, Carbery oversaw the NHL's top-ranked man advantage. Toronto finished with a league-best 27.3 power play percentage this season under Carbery's watch. Last season, the Maple Leafs ranked 16th in power play percentage at 20.0.

Sure, Toronto possesses some elite man advantage talent, but Carbery made adjustments in how the Maple Leafs utilized it.

As Toronto stood atop the league, the Flyers sat below everyone. They finished with an NHL-worst 12.6 power play percentage. Addressing the man advantage, both in personnel and coaching, is a major focus for the Flyers.

Why Carbery would not be a fit

Is Carbery too young and inexperienced? It's a question any team considering him will have to contemplate.

Carbery is only seven and a half years older than Cam Atkinson, one of the Flyers' leaders who turned 33 years old on Sunday.

Given how far the Flyers fell this season, they could be searching for a coach with a real presence and aura to him. Players respecting their coach is everything. While Carbery is touted for his enthusiasm and smarts, he never played in the NHL or AHL. When moments call for him to be hard or demanding, will his message resonate?

Fletcher and the Flyers are not in a good spot to take a gamble. Not after the club missed the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 1992-93 and 1993-94. And not with fans stewing in frustration and perhaps waiting for a pedigree-laden hire to jump-start the fixing.

The coaching decision could go a long way in reigniting belief among the fan base. The Flyers have many big names available on the coaching market; it would be a risk to pass on all of them for a name without the wow factor.

The Flyers' job is brimming with pressure and challenges, a tall order for a rookie NHL bench boss.

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