The Washington Capitals have quite the decision to make when the 2022-23 campaign wraps up. The Caps, who hold a 0.6 percent chance of making this year’s playoffs according to MoneyPuck, do not currently have a head coach under contract for next season.
After two first-round exits and missing the postseason entirely in 2023, Peter Laviolette’s three-year deal that he signed in 2020 is expiring. The Caps could extend his deal at some point this offseason but they also cannot hide from the team results during his tenure.
On Monday morning, ESPN’s Emily Kaplan released a list of up-and-coming NHL coach and general manager candidates. This list was curated with the help of a 24-person poll. Those people work in and around the NHL which included agents, front-office executives, and league officials.
One of the potential future head coaches was listed with specific mention of the Caps’ possible upcoming vacancy, former Hershey Bears bench boss Spencer Carbery.
The 41-year-old is one of the buzziest names on the coaching circuit — and that’s even before he landed in Toronto, center of the hockey media universe. A few respondents said to monitor Carbery as an option for the Capitals should they make a change. Carbery is thought highly of in the Caps organization after three years leading its top minor league affiliate, the Hershey Bears. He has been a quick riser after winning ECHL Coach of the Year (2014) and AHL Coach of the Year (2021). Washington wanted to keep him on, but Carbery took an assistant job with the Maple Leafs in 2021. Since Carbery took over running the power play, Toronto has the league’s second-best man-up unit (behind Edmonton).
Carbery was in charge of the Caps’ AHL affiliate in Hershey for three seasons. He amassed a 104-50-17 record with the Bears and had signed a multi-year extension with the team shortly before departing to take a role on Sheldon Keefe’s bench in Toronto.
“We are pleased to sign Spencer to a new contract,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said at the time. “Spencer is a talented, young head coach and his track record of winning at the professional level, while also developing players, makes him the ideal coach for our top prospects.”
The now 41-year-old Carbery was the second-youngest coach in the AHL at the time of his hire. His first foray into the coaching world came immediately after his playing career ended. The South Carolina Stingrays hired him as an assistant coach for the 2010-11 season after playing for the ECHL team for two seasons. The very next year, he was promoted to head coach. He then went on to take the Stingrays to the playoffs all five years he coached them, posting a 207-115-38 record.
Carbery reportedly interviewed to be the San Jose Sharks head coach in 2022 before former New York Rangers coach David Quinn eventually received that job.
Headline photo: JustSports Photography
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