- The award for best coach in the NHL is a neck-and-neck race, according to oddsmakers
- Jon Cooper led the high-powered Lightning to historical heights
- But Barry Trotz worked miracles with an Islander team that missed the playoffs by 18 points the year prior
Three weeks out from the 2019 NHL Awards Ceremony (June 19th, Las Vegas), the Jack Adams Trophy odds have been updated and it’s a very tight race.
Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper is a slight favorite over Barry Trotz, who just led the Islanders to their highest point total (103) since 1983-84. St. Louis Blues boss Craig Berube rounds out the trio of nominees, but isn’t considered a serious contender since he took over mid-season.
Updated 2019 Jack Adams Trophy Odds
|Nominee||Jack Adams Trophy Odds at Bovada|
|Jon Cooper (Lightning)||-1250|
|Barry Trotz (Islanders)||+110|
|Craig Berube (Blues)||+1200|
*Odds as of 5/28.
Tampa Bay Was Historically Good Under Cooper
The Lightning racked up a staggering 62 wins during the regular season — tying the 95-96 Red Wings for most wins ever — and led the league with a +103 goal difference, 41 goals higher than the second-best team (Calgary).
They were the highest scoring team in the NHL (325 goals for) and fifth-best defensive team (222 goals against). Their prowess at both ends is a tell-tale sign of a well-coached team, as was their potent special-teams play. The Lightning led the league in power-play percentage, connecting at a 28.1% clip, the best rate in over three decades. They also tied for first in PK% at 85%.
Cooper also deserves credit for navigating some significant injuries. Starting goalie Andrei Vasilevski missed 13 games due to injury, while reigning Norris Trophy-winner Victor Hedman missed 12.
Anton Stralman, Ondrej Palat, Ryan Callahan, and Dan Girardi accounted for another 68 man-games lost. But Tampa never faltered. Backup goalie Louis Domingue wound up with a sterling 21-5 record despite posting just a .908 SV%. The team only lost back-to-back games twice all year and didn’t suffer a single three-game losing streak.
Trotz Orchestrated a Miraculous Turnaround on Long Island
As great as Tampa Bay was, Cooper was clearly working with an unparalleled amount of talent. Hart Trophy-shoo-in Nikita Kucherov is just the tip of the iceberg. Tampa was the only team in the league with three 40-goal scorers (Kucherov, 41 G; Steven Stamkos, 45 G; Brayden Point, 41 G). If the NHL handed out an award to front offices, the Lightning would win going away. Their ability to fit this many stars and above-average role players under the salary cap is a tremendous feat.
The Islanders, on the other hand, assembled much the same roster as the 2017-18 team that finished with just 80 points and gave up the most goals in the NHL. Actually, “much the same” is a euphemistic; they lost leading scorer and captain John Tavares to Toronto in free agency.
Yet Barry Trotz managed to lead the Isles to their first playoff berth in three years and within one point of the Metro Division title. He slashed their goals against from 296 to 192; they literally went from worst to first in the category, the first team in the NHL ever to do so.
The Islanders defense and goaltending has slightly improved under Barry Trotz pic.twitter.com/WlIAYR4y6V
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) January 4, 2019
The one big roster addition was goalie Robin Lehner, who had a Vezina-caliber season in the New York net. But a lot of Lehner’s success has to be credited to Trotz’s systems. The Islanders cut their shots-against by almost five per game (from 35.6 to 30.9). So yes, Lehner was great and should undoubtedly be in the Vezina conversation, but Trotz’s work behind the bench made his life easier.
Need further proof of that? Just look at Thomas Greiss’ stats. He played 43 games (just three fewer than Lehner) and his SV% was just three points lower than Lehner’s (.930 vs .927). Last year with the Isles, he had an abysmal .892 SV% and 3.82 GAA.
Where’s the Value?
It’s important to note that the voting took place before the playoffs, so don’t worry about Tampa’s early exit or New York’s first-round upset over Pittsburgh when it comes to the Jack Adams.
The history of this award favors Trotz over Cooper. The coach of the President’s Trophy-winner has only taken home the award once since 1999-2000. Coincidentally, that was Trotz with Washington in 2015-16. Voters have long favored the coach that did more with less, so to speak, and between Trotz and Cooper, there’s no question who squeezed more juice from their orange.
Pick: Trotz (+110)
Additional SBD NHL Awards Coverage
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- 2019 Hart Trophy Finalist Odds: Kucherov Listed as Heavy -1300 Favorite; Is There Any Reason to Bet McDavid or Crosby?
- 2019 Selke Trophy Finalist Odds: O’Reilly Listed As Odds-On Favorite Over Bergeron & Stone
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