After three years of losing in the American Hockey League, the Wild will be relying on Derek Lalonde to help shape a new group of youngsters being introduced to professional hockey starting next season.
Lalonde will be introduced as the Iowa Wild’s fourth head coach in four years at a news conference Monday in Des Moines, a source confirmed.
Lalonde, 43, coached the ECHL Toledo Walleye the past two seasons to a combined 97-35-12 record. The Walleye won consecutive Eastern Conference and North Division regular-season championships after making a league-record 58-point improvement during Lalonde’s first season.
Before arriving in Toledo, Lalonde was an assistant coach for five years at University of Denver, where he coached the Wild’s Jason Zucker, then followed Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper to USHL Green Bay, where he coached Iowa’s Gustav Olofsson.
Lalonde is taking over an Iowa team that had the fewest points in the AHL the past two seasons and was the worst team in the Western Conference during its first season after relocating from Houston.
Iowa’s all-time home record is 32-69-7-6 for a .337 points percentage. It has never won more than three games in a row. He got the job over David Cunniff, who went 8-11-2-3 as Iowa’s interim coach after John Torchetti was promoted to Minnesota in February.
The Wild is hoping for vast improvement next season. Last season, Iowa got off to an atrocious start in large part because of injuries to centers Zac Dalpe, Tyler Graovac and Grayson Downing.
Next season, Iowa could be adding prospects Alex Tuch, Adam Gilmour, Sam Anas, Mario Lucia, Pavel Jenys and Nick Seeler.