Andrew Brunette for Jack Adams Award after First Season with Nashville Predators

Preds have never had a Head Coach win the Jack Adams award for coach of the year, but there is a strong case for Andrew Brunette to be the franchise's first.
Nashville Predators v Florida Panthers
Nashville Predators v Florida Panthers / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

The Nashville Predators earned a playoff berth with a 99-point season, and it is a truly improbable accomplishment for Head Coach Andrew Brunette in Year 1.

Few teams get to the postseason with the amount of talent subtraction and overall turnover that the Predators had last offseason, and especially not when you also replace the head coach and general manager.

But they found a way to do it, and much of that is due to the contributions from their bench boss. Brunette has had a profound effect on this roster and instilled the term "relentless" into their identity, and it has showed at several points, most notably the 18-game point streak from February to March.

Looking at the Jack Adams Race and Where Bruno Fits Into the Debate

Those outside of Nashville have not held back on their praise for Brunette either, as he looks to be a surefire contender for the Jack Adams Award this season.

While Rick Tocchet from Vancouver has done an excellent job in his own right and appears to be the front runner, what Brunette has done has been even more astounding, and he should ultimately win the award.

The Predators have never had a head coach win the Jack Adams award, but ironically enough, Barry Trotz has won the award twice while coaching the Islanders (2019) and Capitals (2016).

Brunette Has Gotten More Out of his Roster than Any Other Head Coach

Let me make it clear that it is not just because the Predators got more points than expected that Brunette should be coach of the year. It is how the Predators got to that point, and maybe more impressively, what he has gotten out of various players on the roster.

Gustav Nyquist is exhibit A in that regard. Nyquist came to Nashville last offseason in free agency, as he was signed to a cheap two-year contract and expected to be a stopgap for the middle six, which is about the caliber of player he has been for his entire career.

What ended up happening was Nyquist's best season by a country mile, notching a career high 75 points and turning into a huge playmaker on the Predators' first line. It would be one thing if this was at age 27 or something close to it, but Nyquist did what he did at age 34, well beyond anyone's wildest expectations.

Besides Nyquist, let's talk about the season Jeremy Lauzon just had. It is not even just that he broke the NHL's single season hit record with 383, but he became more disciplined and refined in every aspect of his game, and became a true key piece on the Predators' defense.

Now unlike Nyquist, Lauzon had his breakout season at age 26 which is more sensible, but his contributions this year were none he had made for any other team in his career, which is a huge credit to Brunette.


Besides getting strong years out of established studs like Filip Forsberg, Ryan O'Reilly, and Roman Josi, Brunette got exceptional if not career campaigns out of guys like Colton Sissons, Michael McCarron, and Mark Jankowski. Even Ryan McDonagh, who is known as a purely defensive defenseman, eclipsed the 30-point mark for the first time since he has turned 30, and did it at age 34.

What is also incredible about what Brunette has done is how he has kept the season afloat despite multiple instances where it did not look promising. And it is not just about the 18-game point streak after the horrible week that resulted in a U2 concert getting canceled.

The Predators started their season 5-10-0, at which point everybody was saying that things were going as expected. They did go on a 13-3-0 streak afterwards, which piqued people's interest again, but they went back into a slump, which made us think that the previous streak was a fluke.

It is way harder to go on a hot streak the second time than it is to go on it to begin with, and the fact that it happened multiple times with an inexperienced and subpar roster is insane. It truly speaks to the term "relentless," which is not just how the Predators have described themselves, but how they have played, and it would not have happened without Brunette's contributions.

Andrew Brunette Separates Himself from Rick Tocchet in Key Ways

There is no denying that the Vancouver Canucks have soared beyone expectations this year, and if Tocchet does indeed win the Jack Adams, he is far from undeserving. But when you dig deep to look at trends for the Predators and Canucks and all of the players involved, what Brunette has done is just that much more impressive.

The way the Canucks started the season was truly mind blowing, and that in itself is a more than valid argument to vouch for Tocchet. But they did not finish the season nearly the same way, and have essentially been a .500 team since the All-Star break, and that is after adding Elias Lindholm to their roster.

Tocchet and the Canucks never proved that they could get back to or stay near that high level of play from the beginning of the season, yet Brunette and the Predators showed that they could get hot and play their best hockey at any time, no matter what happened at any other point beforehand.

You can also see a difference between the two coaches when you look at the players both had at their disposal, and how all of them fared.

Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, JT Miller, and Quinn Hughes all had some of if not the best years of their careers, but all of them are proven top talents and had very strong seasons before this one. Not only that, but none of them are near their 30's, except Miller who just recently turned 31.

Even Filip Hronek, who just had a career year in terms of points, is just 26 years old and is a former high draft pick with offensive skill. The only guys on the Canucks who had years outside of the ordinary were Dakota Joshua and Nils Hoglander, but Hoglander is a former top 50 draft pick who has had hype around him.

There is also Capitals Head Coach Spencer Carbery who is getting praise, including ESPN's John Buccigross who previously said Carbery should be the Jack Adams winner if the Capitals sneak into the playoffs, which they officially did on Tuesday.

One thing we do know it's inevitable in this year's Jack Adams race that there are several well-deserving candidates and the voting will be intriguing to watch.

It is clear that Brunette and Tocchet have both done tremendous jobs this year and are deserving of the Jack Adams Award in their own rights. But what Brunette has done with the players on the roster and overall team's ability to win is more difficult to do, and since there can only be one winner, he should be the one.