Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues and John Tortorella of the New York Rangers were the other two finalists for the Jack Adams Award, which will be presented on June 20 at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
MacLean, in his NHL debut as head coach after spending six seasons as an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings, led Ottawa to an 18-point improvement over last season while the club shot to fourth in the NHL in scoring after finishing 26th of 30 teams the previous season.
Hitchcock, a four-time nominee, took over a 6-7-0 Blues club in November and went 43-15-11 the rest of the way as St. Louis posted its highest point total since leading the league in the 1999-2000 season. His Blues had the NHL's fewest goals against, the fewest shots per game and the most shutouts.
Tortorella, who won the award in 2004 as coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, led the Rangers to first place in the 15-team Eastern Conference as the team compiled their best regular-season record since the Stanley Cup-winning season of 1993-94.