The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have rounded out their coach staff, hiring former NHL defenseman Jay Leach as their assistant coach, it was announced by Pittsburgh Penguins associate general manager Jason Botterill on Tuesday.
Leach, 35, comes with boatloads of NHL and AHL experience. He played with eight different AHL teams and played 70 NHL games in his 11-year pro career.
“We are pleased to be able to add Jay to our coaching staff,” Botterill said in a press release. “With veteran experience as a player who spent time in both the NHL and AHL and success coaching at one of the highest levels of international hockey, we believe that Jay has an ideal skill set that will allow him to have success developing players in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.”
Leach spent the largest part of his career in the New Jersey Devils organization, playing in 31 games with the Devils and spending seven seasons with their AHL affiliates in Lowell, Massachusetts and Albany, New York.
In joining head coach Mike Sullivan’s staff, Leach will get his first North American coaching experience. He spent the 2014-15 season as an assistant coach for German Elite League champions, Adler Mannheim.
Sullivan and Leach will replace John Hynes and Alain Nasreddine, who have moved on to take positions with the Devils this offseason.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton staff, including Sullivan, Leach, goaltending development coach Mike Buckley and Wheeling Nailers head coach Clark Donatelli will run the Penguins’ development camp at Consol Energy Center July 14-18.
BACK IN THE FOLD: On Friday, the Penguins re-signed defenseman Reid McNeill to a two-year, two-way contract that carries an average annual value of $575,000 at the NHL level.
McNeill had been a restricted free agent. The 23 year-old blueliner had seven points and 121 penalty minutes in 54 games for Wilkes-Barre in 2014-15.
FIRST SIGNING: The Wheeling Nailers made their first signing for the 2015-16 season, bringing back leading goal-scorer Derek Army on a one-year ECHL contract.
Army, 24, led the Nailers in goals (37), games played (72) and was second in points (66). The Providence College grad was also named to the 2014-15 ECHL all-rookie team.
MOVIN’ ON: Robert Morris graduate Scott Jacklin will join the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL for the 2015-16 season. Jacklin had 14 goals and 19 assists in 37 games for the Colonials, finishing third on the team in points.
He will be the second Colonials forward from the class of 2015 to go pro, as Cody Wydo joined the Nailers at the end of last season.
Photo credit: Albany Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, Brian Mitchell