Who Could Be New Jersey Devils Next Head Coach After Lindy Ruff Firing?

Lindy Ruff's time as the head coach of the New Jersey Devils is officially over. General Manager Tom Fitzgerald now faces the biggest decision of his Devils tenure when he begins his head coaching search. There are plenty of good options, but who is the right one to take a budding young Devils team to the top?

New Jersey Devils v Vancouver Canucks
New Jersey Devils v Vancouver Canucks / Derek Cain/GettyImages
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Mike Sullivan - Pittsburgh Penguins Head Coach

Sullivan will be the hot name surrounding the Devils, and any open job for that matter. The Pittsburgh Penguins are in danger of missing the playoffs for the second year in a row and look directionless. Sullivan has been the Penguins coach for nine seasons and has back-to-back Stanley Cup wins on his resume. However, the Penguins have a new GM in Kyle Dubas, and disappointing results this season might not mean the Penguins move forward.

If Sullivan becomes available, then he should cut to the front of the line for the Devil's job. He has shown with his time in Pittsburgh that he can coach elite, young talent. Those Penguin championship teams were fast-paced and attacking while also being able to shut down other teams in the defensive zone. His pedigree would command players' attention in the locker room and would get them to buy in. If Pittsburgh's struggles continue, then odds are Sullivan will hit the open market, making it a no-brainer decision for Fitzgerald.

Dan Bylsma - Coachella Valley Firebirds Head Coach

From one Penguins coach to another. Dan Bylsma, like Sullivan, was a Stanley Cup champion head coach with the Penguins, albeit from 2009. That being said, after a rocky stint as the head coach with the Buffalo Sabres and an assistant job with the Detroit Red Wings, Bylsma has had a successful yet brief stint as the head coach of the Coachella Valley Firebirds of the AHL. In his first season as head coach and the team's first season of existence, he guided them to the Calder Cup Finals before losing in seven games. This season, he has the Seattle Kraken's AHL affiliate up in second place and poised for another deep playoff run.

Bylsma has had a career resurrection with Coachella Valley, and it wouldn't be all too shocking if Fitzgerald, who worked with Bylsma in Pittsburgh, gave him another chance behind an NHL bench. He has experience working with a very young Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, making the prospect of working with Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier enticing.