Ryan Warsofsky is a sensible choice to help lead the rebuilding San Jose Sharks

The Sharks named Warsofsky as their next head coach on Thursday, becoming the 11th bench boss in San Jose history.
San Jose Sharks v Montreal Canadiens
San Jose Sharks v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

It has been a rough road for the San Jose Sharks after many years of regular-season dominance through most of the 2000s and 2010s. They've failed to make the postseason in the last five campaigns following their trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2019. This season, they finished with the fewest points in the league, leading the organization to give David Quinn his pink slip after two seasons behind the bench.

The search for a new head coach lasted less than two months as the organization named Ryan Warsofsky as Quinn's replacement on Thursday morning. Warsofsky had been with the Sharks as an assistant coach for the last two seasons, working with the defensemen. This includes Erik Karlsson's 101-point, Norris Trophy-winning performance in 2022.

Warsofsky is a proven winner in the minor leagues

While relatively new to the NHL level, Ryan Warsofsky has paid his dues in the minor leagues. He spent several seasons with the South Carolina Stingrays in the ECHL, serving as an assistant coach, head coach, and director of hockey operations across five seasons. He led the Stingrays to an appearance in the Kelly Cup Finals in 2017, losing in a four-game sweep.

Warsofsky eventually joined the Carolina Hurricanes organization in 2018 as an assistant coach and helped guide the Checkers to a Calder Cup victory that season before being named the head coach for the following campaign. COVID-19 canceled his first season, but he'd remain with the Hurricanes organization as their AHL affiliation changed to the Chicago Wolves. The Wolves won back-to-back division titles under Warsofsky, culminating in a Calder Cup win for Chicago in 2022 with a team that featured current Hurricanes Stefan Noesen, Jack Drury, Jalen Chatfield, and Pyotr Kochetkov.

Familiarity will make Warsofsky a good fit

With a young team like the Sharks, hiring a name from inside of the organization might be the best move. Obviously, the hope is that Ryan Warsofsky will be the man who turns the team around. His being behind the bench for the last few seasons allows him to come into his first day as the head coach, aware of the strengths and weaknesses of most of his players.

There are a few coaches who made the jump from an assistant to a head coach with the same team. Rod Brind'Amour has established a solid career through six seasons, leading the Hurricanes to the playoffs in each season after several years as the second in command. Ryan Huska made the jump with the Flames after five seasons as an assistant and many more as their AHL affiliate's head coach. The gold standard for moving from the AHL to the NHL is Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper. His success within the Lightning organization translated to the NHL, winning Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021.

The San Jose Sharks aren't quite ready to compete for a playoff spot, but there are many young players in the organization who are ready to turn the ship around. San Jose possesses a wealth of top prospects, led by Will Smith, Quentin Musty, and Shakir Mukhamadullin, as well as young playmakers already making an impact in the NHL. William Eklund finished second on the team in goals and points this season, while Fabian Zetterlund was their lone 20-goal scorer. Several others saw limited time with the team, but are sure get more time this season.

Add top pick Macklin Celebrini into the mix, and Ryan Warsofsky has a lot of pieces to play with. As long as we're patient with the Sharks and don't expect too much from them this season, this could be a worthwhile move for the Sharks. It comes with plenty of risks, but the ceiling is high for Warsofsky as he heads into his first season as the man in charge.