In the matter of a few days, the Pittsburgh Penguins handed out contract extensions to a pair of their assistant coaches.
Mike Vellucci and Todd Reirden were re-signed to two-year contract extensions with the Penguins; Reirden was also promoted to associate coach.
The new contracts for Vellucci and Reirden align them with the final year of head coach Mike Sullivan’s deal in 2023-24.
Sullivan has one of the safest jobs in the NHL as an early rumor noted that Sullivan and Sidney Crosby were the only two jobs considered “safe” by Fenway Sports Group.
So that begs the question of what can everyone expect from the Penguins coaching staff over the next two years?
In short, we can expect the Sullivan to coach the Penguins to more successful seasons.
No matter what gets thrown at the Penguins, Sullivan has remained a steady presence and should be considered one of the top in the NHL.
Since joining the Penguins, Sullivan has not had a points percentage below .610 and recently surpassed Dan Bylsma as the winningest coach in team history.
Sullivan has coached multiple injury plagued Penguins teams to the postseason and it is a shame that he has never been nominated for the Jack Adams Award.
Whether a trophy is in Sullivan’s future or not, one certainty is that the Penguins win when he is behind the bench.
The Penguins may have a logjam at defense, but Reirden has been able to get the most out of his blueliners.
While Kris Letang had a phenomenal 2021-22 season, not enough credit has been given to Reirden for his guidance.
Reirden has been a big reason that not only Letang put up a career year at the age of 35, but also Mike Matheson was able to largely live up to a bloated contract, and Cody Ceci looked like a solid option on the back end.
Matheson and Ceci were not necessarily “experiments” but castoffs from their former teams and found new ground in Pittsburgh.
Now, this isn’t all placed on the shoulders of Reirden, but he is the one designing the defense and their schemes.
Under Reirden’s tutelage, you can expect these new defenders like Jeff Petry, Ty Smith, and Jan Rutta to find new aspects to their game.
While Reirden handled the defense and power play, Vellucci oversaw the offense and a top rated penalty kill.
And the penalty kill has turned into Vellucci’s bread and butter in Pittsburgh.
It’s well known the kind of defensive prowess Teddy Blueger and former Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese brought to the fourth line, but they were part of a brick wall on the PK.
In 2021-22, the Penguins finished the season with an 84.43% on the penalty kill and ranked third in the league in that category.
Quite simply, Vellucci will keep the Penguins penalty kill as top notch as possible no matter the situation.
This iteration of the coaching staff has two years to prove what they can do behind the bench.
While it might be ideal to keep Sullivan around following his current contract, Reirden and Vellucci have high chances of finding a head coaching job after their deals expire.
The Penguins current staff know how to win and are hungry to break through in the postseason.
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