Mailbag: NHL's best available coaches

Updated: December 2, 2011, 11:19 AM ET
By Craig Custance

In compiling questions for our Friday mailbag, I was asked to name my top five coaches in the NHL. But considering the turnover we've seen this week, as well as the likelihood that more changes could be coming, a look at the five best available coaches might be more useful. So for all the fans hoping their team makes a change behind the bench, here are the top five experienced candidates:

1. Randy Carlyle -- Bruce Boudreau got snapped up in less than a week, so it's hard to imagine Carlyle lasting long on the open market. The Ducks would be more than happy to grant permission to anyone interested in hiring Carlyle, who signed an extension in August that lasts through the 2013-14 season. The budget-conscious Ducks would welcome help in paying that deal.

But most importantly, Carlyle deserves the opportunity. He led the Ducks to a Stanley Cup and is among the most respected coaches in the game. It's a natural to connect him to Brian Burke in Toronto, but Ron Wilson has that team in position to make the playoffs. Burke himself got out front of the story with his tweet, "Sad to hear about Randy Carlyle. But our coach isn't going anywhere!" It'll be interesting to see if that comment from Burke is enough to quiet Carlyle rumors if the Leafs string together a few losses. A Ron Wilson contract extension would go a long way toward ending rumors in Toronto.