The Pittsburgh Penguins have announced several additions to the hockey operations department as GM Ron Hextall continues to put his stamp on the organization. Will Acton and Kerry Huffman have been added as professional scouts, Brett Hextall has been hired as an integrated development coach, Alexander Khavanov will serve as a European amateur scout and Matt Mangene will join as an amateur free agent scout.
Acton should be a familiar name to hockey fans, given his history and that of his father. The 33-year-old forward played 33 games in the NHL, all of them coming with the Edmonton Oilers. He has spent the last five seasons in Germany, but will end his playing career and join the Penguins’ front office. His father, Keith Acton, played more than 1,000 games in the NHL, including several seasons in Philadelphia alongside Hextall. Upon retirement, he joined the Flyers coaching staff while Hextall was still a player, and then served as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs under now-Penguins president Brian Burke.
Huffman also has a connection to Hextall, through their time together in Philadelphia as players. He then served as an assistant coach with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Flyers’ AHL affiliate, from 2016 through last season. A veteran of more than 400 NHL games, he’ll now add scout to his resume.
Brett Hextall has an obvious connection to the new front office, being the GM’s son, but he already has three seasons of experience under his belt as a development coach with the Flyers. He also was a star forward at the University of North Dakota, and had a relatively successful, though rather short, professional career in the AHL.
St. Louis Blues fans will remember Khavanov’s name, as the talented Russian defenseman that joined the team in 2000. He recorded 102 points over 348 NHL games, mostly with the Blues, before returning overseas in 2006. A three-time participant at the World Championship, he’ll add to the team’s footprint overseas.
Last is Mangene, whose playing career is over after one season in Austria. The long-time minor league defenseman never did get a chance to play in the NHL, but was with the Adirondack Phantoms when Hextall returned to the Philadelphia organization in 2013. An undrafted free agent signing himself out of the University of Maine, Mangene should have a real insight into the strengths and weaknesses of those overlooked players.