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Report: Woodcroft, Evason top candidates for Jackets' coaching job

Jonathan Kozub / National Hockey League / Getty

Jay Woodcroft and Dean Evason are among the finalists for the Columbus Blue Jackets' head coaching vacancy, reports The Athletic's Aaron Portzline.

Both candidates have attended several interviews with president of hockey operations and general manager Don Waddell and other members of Columbus' front office.

Woodcroft coached the Edmonton Oilers for parts of three seasons - his only NHL head coaching job - before he was fired after a 3-9-1 start to the 2023-24 campaign. He led the Oilers to the 2022 Western Conference Final. His .643 points percentage is the eighth-best mark all time among coaches with at least 100 games.

Evason's only stint as an NHL bench boss came with the Minnesota Wild, whom he guided for parts of five campaigns before he was let go following a 5-10-4 start in 2023-24. He led the Wild to four postseason appearances but never won a round. His .639 points percentage is 12th-best all time among qualified coaches.

Former San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings bench boss Todd McLellan was reportedly Waddell's first choice for the job but is no longer in the running after contract negotiations fell apart. Because McLellan still had another year left on his contract before the Kings fired him last season, the two teams need to negotiate how much of his contract Columbus would pay.

However, the Blue Jackets could circle back to McLellan, a source told Portzline.

Pascal Vincent coached the Blue Jackets to a disappointing 27-43-12 record in 2023-24 before he was fired in June. Columbus hired Vincent late in training camp last year to replace Mike Babcock, who resigned before coaching a single game with the club following allegations of player mistreatment.

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