If there's a formula for winning the NHL's coach of the year award, Darryl Sutter followed it perfectly last season.
The Jack Adams Award is awarded by the NHL Broadcasters' Association to "the NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success," based on regular-season performance.
More often than not, the plaudits go to a turnaround artist who has transformed an underperforming group into a contender.
Sutter's work over the last year and a half certainly qualified, after the 30-year-NHL-coaching veteran and two-time Stanley Cup Champion came out of retirement and took the Flames to first place in the Pacific Division.
This season brings plenty of familiar faces in new places who will be looking to turn a similar trick. And voters shouldn't ignored the established coaches who do strong work, year after year.
Here's a look at five names that should be in the mix for the 2023 Jack Adams Award at season's end.
1. JARED BEDNAR - COLORADO AVALANCHE
In six seasons, Jared Bednar has guided the Colorado Avalanche from the worst team in the league all the way to a championship.
Yes, his team is loaded with talent. But Bednar's calm approach kept his group improving incrementally. Last season, he got them over the hump after their frustrating second-round loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in 2021.
After the inevitable offseason roster losses that the salary cap requires, the Avs' lineup is a little less powerful heading into the new season. Their role will be different, too: every opponent they face will be looking to test themselves against the defending champs.
If Bednar can engineer another strong regular season in Denver this year, Jack Adams voters could shift away from their usual voting pattern to honor him for his solid career to date with the impressive Avalanche organization.
2. MARTIN ST. LOUIS - MONTREAL CANADIENS
It's rare to see the Jack Adams awarded to a first-time NHL head coach. Bednar may now have enough of a body of work to buck that trend — and so could Martin St. Louis, if the Montreal Canadiens manage to contend for a playoff spot in the tough Atlantic Division.
With no professional coaching experience on his resume, St. Louis nevertheless made a colossal impact after joining the last-place Canadiens last February. He improved the club's morale, helped individual players raise their games and sold hope to a disenchanted fanbase — all while keeping the Habs in 32nd spot and setting up the draft-lottery win that brought them Juraj Slafkovsky at the Bell Centre in July.
With Nick Suzuki now wearing the captain's 'C,' St. Louis's young squad should be fun to watch this season.
If the Canadiens can also win their share of games, the Hockey Hall of Famer could ended up adding a Jack Adams Award to a trophy case that's overflowing with achievements from his playing days.
3. MIKE SULLIVAN - PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
With his record of steady success, it's surprising that Mike Sullivan has never won a Jack Adams Award.
His Pittsburgh Penguins own the current NHL record for consecutive playoff appearances — 16 seasons, including three Stanley Cups. Sullivan is heading into his eighth year at the helm, after taking over midway through the 2015-16 campaign and guiding Pittsburgh to back-to-back championships in his first two postseasons.
Many expected the Penguins to take a step back last season, with an aging core group, uncertainty in net and injuries to key players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Instead, their 103 points marked their best regular season in five years.
This summer, the Penguins elected to re-commit to that core, bringing back Malkin, Kris Letang and Bryan Rust and extending Rickard Rakell.
Sullivan's group would love to take a run at one more championship. If that starts with a strong regular season, the NHL's second-longest-tenured head coach could receive some overdue Jack Adams consideration.
4. BRUCE BOUDREAU - VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Heading into the 2022-23 season, Bruce Boudreau has the opportunity to most closely mirror Darryl Sutter's path to a Jack Adams win.
Boudreau arrived in Vancouver last December, with the Canucks occupying the Pacific Division basement. Over the next 57 games, he guided Vancouver to a 32-15-7 record, a .649 points percentage that would have been playoff-worthy over a full season.
The Canucks are returning all their key players this fall, and have added depth to their forward ranks with an eye on increasing team speed and improving their penalty killing.
The aimiable Boudreau is well-liked, and he's on the cusp of winning his 600th career game as he enters his 15th season behind an NHL bench.
He already has one Jack Adams Award, from his first NHL season. In November of 2007, he was promoted from the AHL to take over the 5-9-1 Washington Capitals. Under his watch, they went 37-17-7 and finished first in the old Southeast Division.
5. DON GRANATO - BUFFALO SABRES
Speaking of well-liked, Don Granato is very highly regarded in the hockey community. Known as a great teacher, the 55-year-old joined the Buffalo Sabres as an assistant coach in 2019, with head coaching experience in the USHL, ECHL and AHL on his resume that spanned more than 25 years.
Granato took over the head job in Buffalo in March of 2021. Last season, he guided the club to a fifth-place finish in the Atlantic Division — their best placement since the new divisional alignment came into effect a decade ago.
Many rebuilds later, the Sabres are now flush with promising young talent. And Granato appears to be accomplishing the seemingly impossible, establishing a proud team identity that has been absent in Western New York since the peak of the Ryan Miller era.
Granato's work in Buffalo to date has been impressive. If the Sabres continue to improve this season, he should earn Jack Adams consideration.