Earlier this evening, Jonathan Bombulie of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review had a short and to the point report from a source stating that former Penguin and Ice Tiger defenseman Alain Nasreddine will become an assistant coach for the New Jersey Devils. Nasreddine was an assistant under John Hynes with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the last five seasons. He will follow Hynes to Newark.
While assistant coaches in the AHL don't get a ton of coverage, Bombulie did state that Nasreddine did work with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's defensemen and penalty killers. According to Josh Weisbrock's estimations at Hockeystats.ca, the Baby Pens were a positive possession team largely because they were so stingy in allowing attempts at even strength. It's not much, but it suggests Nasreddine knew what he was doing along with Hynes. My guess is that Hynes would agree, and so he'd want to on-board someone he knows and can trust to support him as a coach. I'm not convinced this is another step towards a Pittsburghization of the Devils, but it probably didn't hurt that he came from the same organization as Ray Shero and Hynes.
Tom Gulitti cited the same report at Fire & Ice and raised a good point. Since Nasreddine focused on the defensive side of the game in the AHL, what does this mean for Scott Stevens? Unless Nasreddine will be focused solely on the PK or act under a separate role, I think it means Stevens won't be returning to the bench to run the defense. I'm not torn up about it. As much as he got credit for Adam Larsson, the defense as a whole performed at least a bit worse under Stevens. The shots against per sixty rate increased by half of a shot and the team's possession dropped like a stone with Stevens (and Oates) behind the bench. It would've led to more goals against and likely more losses if it wasn't for Cory Schneider playing like a superstar. I personally think Larsson's improvements will remain regardless of who focuses on the defense based on how he has changed his game on the ice last season. Larsson will be fine; therefore, it's another reason why I won't miss Stevens too much - assuming this means he's out.
Gulitti raised another point about the lack of NHL experience behind the bench. Like Hynes, Nasreddine has never coached in the NHL. Like Hynes, he's rather young at 39 years of age. As the team is re-building, I'm not too concerned about a relatively inexperienced group of coaches getting their feet wet. A veteran coach isn't going to turn the team around immediately anyway. That said, getting an assistant who's at least been behind a NHL bench isn't a bad idea. It shouldn't be too hard to find someone like that and it wouldn't surprise me if it's known in the next few days.
While it's not massive news, the report that the Devils will hire Nasreddine as an assistant coach is still news. Therefore, I want to know your opinion. Do you think this is a decent hire? Do you think he'll be able to be successful under Hynes like he did in the AHL? What do you think it means for Scott Stevens as a coach and is it a good thing? Please leave your answers and other reactions to this news in the comments. Thank you for reading.