Will Sheldon Keefe become available for New York Rangers

The New York Rangers are now keeping a watchful eye on head coach Sheldon Keefe in the wake of the Toronto Maple Leafs elimination.

Heading into this season, the pressure was turned up high for the Leafs, who had failed to win a single playoff series since 2004. Toronto was able to knock off the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round and were salivating to take on their next opponent.

The Florida Panthers shocked the league-leading Boston Bruins after squeaking into the playoffs as the second wild card in the East. It was supposed to be an easier path to the Eastern Conference Finals, instead it became a nightmare.

New York Rangers waiting on Sheldon Keefe

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Florida Panthers
Mar 23, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs Sheldon Keefe reacts from the bench during the third period against the Florida Panthers at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto’s Stanley Cup drought is now at 56 years and probably has Leafs’ fans lamenting their chant of “We Want Florida” after eliminating the Lightning.

The moment Nick Cousins scored in overtime to end the series in just five games, all focus in Toronto turned to the fates of GM Kyle Dubas and Keefe.

Depending on who you listen to, Dubas’ job situation isn’t as perilous as early speculation made it out to be. However, he doesn’t have a contract and if the Pittsburgh Penguins offer him the world, he may leave on his own.

What does that have to do with Keefe? Well, if Dubas goes elsewhere and the Leafs fire their bench boss, it will be tougher for the Rangers to lure him.

Keefe, 42, has spent four seasons as an NHL coach all behind the Leafs bench. He’s amassed a record of 166-71-30 over that span. However, his postseason record of 13-17 is a little less than desirable.

That being said, Keefe has never had good goaltending while he’s been with Toronto. Matter of fact, at least 10 different goalies have suited up in a Leafs uniform during his tenure. Having Igor Shesterkin will automatically help whatever defensive system he wants to implement.

He also knows how to coach superstars getting top notch production out of players like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and John Tavares.

After the Panthers celebrations died down, Florida’s head coach Paul Maurice had some glowing praise for his counterpart.

“Sheldon Keefe is a phenomenal coach,” Maurice said. “We all have windows. We all have our time. He can coach in this league for 20 years if he wants to.”

Will Keefe’s next few years be in Toronto or might we see him on Broadway?

The Rangers are waiting to find out.