WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced the completions of their future considerations trades.
During the 2020-21 season, the Nailers made three trades that involved future considerations. The first deal took place in March, as the Nailers sent forward Hayden Hodgson to the Utah Grizzlies. In return, Wheeling receives the rights to forward Jack Jenkins. The second trade also took place in March, as the Nailers received defenseman Jesse Lees from the South Carolina Stingrays. To complete that deal, Wheeling has sent the rights to forward Lawton Courtnall to South Carolina. Finally, in April, the Nailers dealt forward Michael Joly to the Orlando Solar Bears. That trade produces the largest return, as Wheeling receives the rights to forward Jake Coughler, forward Tad Kozun, defenseman Matthew Spencer, and forward Darby Llewellyn. Llewellyn was first acquired by Orlando in a future considerations trade from the Tulsa Oilers.
Jenkins, 25, is going into his third professional season, after playing the first two years of his career with the Grizzlies. Jack began his rookie season with Utah in November of the 2019-20 season, and really hit his stride in January and February, as he notched seven goals, 18 assists, and 25 points in 52 games. This past season, the Lake Bluff, Illinois native was ready to go as soon as the puck hit the ice, as he opened the campaign with a three-game point streak, en route to six goals, 11 assists, and 17 points in 60 games. Jenkins and Ty Lewis are the only two players who registered at least 100 shots on goal in each of the last two seasons for the Grizzlies. Jack played his college hockey at the University of Notre Dame.
Coughler, 25, appeared in 58 games over the course of two seasons with the Solar Bears and certainly made the most of his time, as he racked up 27 goals, 18 assists, and 45 points. Jake started his pro career in Slovakia in 2019, before returning to North America to sign with Orlando. December and January was Coughler's best stretch during his rookie season, as he collected at least one point in eight of 11 games, but he did save his best for last, as his final weekend of that year featured a four-point game, including two assists in the final minute, as the Solar Bears rallied back from a 4-2 deficit to beat the Norfolk Admirals, 5-4. Jake's best run in 2020-21 saw him appear on the scoresheet in nine of 11 games during February and March, including his first career hat trick on February 28th in Jacksonville. The St. Catherines, Ontario native played junior hockey in the QMJHL, then played two seasons at St. Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Kozun, 28, is a name that Nailers fans will recognize, as his younger brother Taran was a goaltender for Wheeling this past season. Tad has played in parts of four seasons in the ECHL, as he began his career with the South Carolina Stingrays, then went on to the Kansas City Mavericks, before landing in Orlando. Kozun's rookie season with the Stingrays in 2018-19 was his most electric, as he finished fourth on the squad with 50 points, while accumulating 109 penalty minutes to rank third on the team in that category. The Nipawin, Saskatchewan native compiled 25 points in 52 games with Kansas City in 2019-20, then tallied 13 points in 42 games with the Solar Bears this past season. Similar to his brother, Tad also got an education while playing his amateur hockey, but he did so in the NCAA at the University of Alaska-Anchorage.
Spencer, 24, is set to begin his fifth season as a pro, after spending significant time in both the AHL and ECHL during his first four years. Matthew was originally selected in the second round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning, and he played 39 of his 53 games as a rookie with their AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. After notching 15 points and a +15 rating in his second pro season with Orlando, the Guelph, Ontario native was traded to the Buffalo Sabres, which led him to 17 points and a +13 rating with the first place Cincinnati Cyclones, before the 2019-20 season was stopped due to the pandemic. Spencer is coming off of his most productive season as a pro, as he returned to the Solar Bears and led the team's blueliners with nine goals, while finishing second among defensemen with 22 points. Matthew played junior hockey with the OHL's Peterborough Petes.
Llewellyn, 24, also has family ties to the Nailers, as his older brother Tristin played for the team during the 2014-15 season. Darby got his pro career started in 2017-18 with the Atlanta Gladiators and had great success, as he lit the lamp 17 times, while totaling 30 points in 66 games. Llewellyn followed that up with 23 points in 44 games for the Rapid City Rush, before spending the 2019-20 season in the Czech Republic. The Ann Arbor, Michigan native returned to the ECHL this past season with the Tulsa Oilers, and produced seven points in 44 games, while providing lots of sparks as a physical, high-energy player. One of his goals this past season was the opening marker in a 4-2 win at Wheeling on February 4th. Llewellyn played his entire junior hockey career with the OHL's Kitchener Rangers.
The next key date in the 2021 offseason is Season Ending Rosters due Thursday at 3:00. That roster can include up to 20 players. Players may begin signing contracts for the 2021-22 season on Friday.
The Wheeling Nailers are just a few months away from beginning their 30th season. The puck drops in Fort Wayne on October 23rd, before the Nailers play their home opener against the Komets on Saturday, November 6th at 7:10. Season memberships are available, and fans can get more information by calling (304) 234-GOAL. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley.