Dan Bylsma’s seemingly inevitable marriage to the Buffalo Sabres

Pittsburgh Penguins' coach Dan Bylsma, center, looks at the scoreboard during a timeout in the third period of Game 5 of a first-round NHL playoff hockey series against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Pittsburgh, Saturday, April 26, 2014. The Penguins won 3-1. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Dan Bylsma wants to coach again in the NHL.

He nearly took over the Florida Panthers last season, but ultimately it wasn’t a match. (Money was a factor, as Bylsma wanted upwards of $2.5 million per season.)

The Pittsburgh Penguins, still paying him after his firing last year, have granted permission for him to interview with the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils and the San Jose Sharks about their coaching gigs.

The Sharks are apparently interviewing anyone that’s ever had the word “coach” as a prefix to their name. Among the suspected San Jose candidates: Bylsma, former Devils coach Peter DeBoer, current Devils (tri-? co-?) coach Adam Oates, 2016 Canada world junior coach Dave Lowry, Boston University coach Dan Quinn, potentially Trent Yawney of the Ducks and Kevin Dineen of the Blackhawks, and potentially Randy Carlyle.

So that’s a rather crowded field.

The Devils have permission to speak to him as well, even if it already happened in Prague. From Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record, skepticism on the Bylsma/Ray Shero reunion in Jersey:

Don't get carried away on the Bylsma thing. Shero talked to him already while at world championships. Things could change but don't expect Bylsma and Shero to reunite in NJ. Buffalo seems far more likely.

Which brings us to Buffalo.

There are glaringly obvious reasons why Bylsma and the Sabres are a fit. There’s the fact that Buffalo is slowly becoming the cradle of USA Hockey, and Bylsma is a prominent part of that program. There’s the Jack Eichel connection, as Bylsma coached him as an assistant at the world championships in Prague; and while Sidney Crosby was a bit more fully formed when Bylsma got him in Pittsburgh, he knows from coaching young star players.

More connections, from Elliotte Friedman:

“And the other thing too is Tim Murray, one of the guys he’s tightest with is Chuck Fletcher of Minnesota, who was the assistant GM in Pittsburgh when they had Bylsma and won the Stanley Cup. So I have a feeling if Fletcher gives Bylsma any kind of good recommendation to Tim Murray, that’s going to help Bylsma’s situation there.”

There was also some crossover with Murray and Bylsma when both were with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Bylsma as a player and Murray as director of player personnel.

But let’s be honest here. One of the main reasons this is a match is Terry Pegula, who will meet whatever price Bylsma is asking for if Murray wants him; and after Mike Babcock spurned the Sabres for the Toronto Maple Leafs, one assumes Pegula would like to have a coach with some prominence and a Stanley Cup to his credit over, say, an AHL coach like Luke Richardson, who is also expected in the mix.

It's not exactly breaking news that the man likes to make a splash.

I still think the St. Louis Blues are the most interesting fit for Bylsma, based on personnel and his reputation for taking over a very good team and making it a champion. But it sounds like Ken Hitchcock will be staying on for next season, even if they totally would have pushed him upstairs for Babcock.