MacKenzie, who’s expected to coach Nashville’s power play, fills an opening left by the recently fired Dan Lambert. The 42-year-old assistant rounds out Brunette’s staff which includes fellow assistants Dan Hinote and Todd Richards plus goaltending coach Ben Vanderklok.
“Derek MacKenzie’s track record as a player and coach in the NHL makes him a valuable addition to our organization,” Brunette said. “Having worked closely with him on an NHL bench before, I’ve been fortunate enough to see his leadership qualities firsthand and know he will develop strong connections and relationships with our players and staff. I’m excited to reunite with him here in Nashville and see him become a big asset for our team.”
MacKenzie spent the 2022-23 season as the head coach of the Sudbury Wolves in the Ontario Hockey League. Under his guidance, Wolves center David Goyette finished with the ninth-most goals (41) and points (92) in the OHL, and left wing Quentin Musty (78 points) also finished in the league’s top 25 in scoring.
Musty (No. 14), defenseman Matthew Mania (No. 70) and center Alex Pharand (No. 77) are expected to be taken in the 2023 draft, and all are ranked among the top 100 North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.
“While (MacKenzie’s) stay in Sudbury was brief, he leaves our players and organization in a better place, which is something that will help us tremendously this upcoming season with our goal of winning a league championship,” Sudbury GM Rob Papineau said in a release.
MacKenzie is already well-acquainted with some of his new colleagues. He worked alongside Brunette as an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers from 2019 to 2022.
The duo helped lead the Panthers to a 58-19-6 record with 122 points and the first-ever Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history during the 2021-22 season in which Florida scored an NHL-leading 337 goals and had the No. 4-ranked power play in the NHL (24.4 percent).
During his time as a plyer with the Columbus Blue Jackets, MacKenzie spent three seasons as a teammate with Predators center Ryan Johansen and played under Hinote for four years and Richards for three.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_
(Photo of Derek MacKenzie, left, and Andrew Brunette by Paul Sancya/AP)