The “Homecoming” Option: Jay Leach
One name familiar to all Devils fans; Jay Leach is a former player and the current assistant coach for the rising Seattle Kraken. Leach has sizeable coaching experience for a relatively young coach. Before his current stint in Seattle, Leach was the head coach for the Providence Bruins for 4 years. He had an impressive 62.8 win % during his time in the AHL, though he didn’t win a championship.
He is currently responsible for the development and play of the defenseman, which has seen key improvement in guys like Carson Soucy, Adam Larsson, and, most notably, Vince Dunn. Seattle’s team defense was quite good this year, ranking as the 7th best team in xGA. While that is more of a team stat, it is important that the section of the team Leach is responsible for is doing their job well. Much like the Devils of last year, goaltending killed a lot of what Seattle could have been this year in the regular season. The Kraken likely don’t care much now with Philip Grubauer’s renaissance in the playoffs.
With the incoming defenders in Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec, a coach who has experience with developing defensemen may be helpful.
There are obvious concerns with the fact that this would be his first NHL head coaching gig in the league. Still, Leach seems like a worthwhile option, being able to bring fresh ideas defensively that could help clean up some of the in-zone defensive issues the Devils face when they are not able to get their rush game going.