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Before the Games Begin

A few pieces of business to take care of before Season 6 finally gets underway on Saturday night:

You can look here for your official season opening roster. But just how did it get to that?

-When I posted the final free agent tracker on September 1st, there were 6 players remaining on the free agent list that had not found a home for the season.  2 ended up staying put (Corbin McPherson and Joe Faust), while 3 others have found new homes: Scott Timmins signed with San Jose and will be playing for the Barracuda; David Wohlberg is off to Florida of the ECHL after starting in camp with Charlotte; and Maxime Clermont has returned to school in Quebec, playing for Concordia University.  Darcy Zajac is the last one standing, although according to Comcast he’s in New Jersey.

-Final roster moves from camp: Seth Helgeson was the last cut from New Jersey’s training camp, being reassigned to Albany on Tuesday.  Joe Faust and David Shields (the last remaining PTO in Albany camp) were sent to Adirondack, where the Thunder’s camp got underway on Sunday.

-With Scott Wedgewood (ankle) out for a week and Yann Danis’s (back) status up in the air for the weekend, goaltender Doug Carr was brought in on a PTO on Wednesday.  He split last season between Adirondack and Colorado (ECHL), posting a 4-3-0 record with a 3.30 GAA for the Flames and a 10-10-0 mark with a 2.65 GAA for the Eagles.  There is a chance Ken Appleby may be making his professional debut on Saturday if Danis is unable to go.

-The last two days have also seen two transactions that may have a lot of potential for this team, although one may not happen right away.  On Wednesday afternoon (with the news breaking during the Martin Brodeur number retirement ceremony, no less), New Jersey acquired forward Brian O’Neill from the Kings for a conditional 7th round draft choice in 2017.  Most in the NHL Devil fanbase were like, who is this guy?  But in the AHL…yeah, he’s kind of a big deal.  Last season he lead Manchester to the Calder Cup and won league MVP in the process, leading all scorers with 80 points (22 G, 58 A) in 71 games and adding another 20 points during the playoff run.  He will remain on New Jersey’s roster for the time being, but if he is to be reassigned to Albany, he will have to go through waivers first.

Then on Thursday, a curveball: Chicago reassigned forward Corey Tropp to Albany.  He spent the last two seasons with Columbus, where in 2014-15 he put up 8 points (1 goal, 7 assists) in 61 games.  His last appearance in the AHL was a 6 game stint in 2012-13 with Rochester.

-Now for the setup for me for Season 6:

Like last season, all pregamers will be on a weekly basis.  Noontime release on the first gameday that week.

Recaps will follow the day after the last game of the week, with a quick summary, highlights, and lineups.  I’m also bringing back a Player of the Week and the team leaders, along with injuries, Thunder updates, and what’s upcoming.  New this year: what I like to call The Vault.  Since there may not be as many Obligatory Fights of the Week, The Vault will be a random interview/highlight reel with a current member of the roster back in the day.  A Before They Were Devils, if you will.  As for photo galleries…well, no separate entries for those.  I will include a few photos right in the recap, with all extended galleries over on the Facebook page (a reminder that it does still exist, so if you haven’t Liked it, please do so).

With that said…let’s go and be United In Red!


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Preseason Split

Welcome to October!  For all of you that have been begging for it since April…you can stop complaining now! (I kid, I kid.)

Before Season 6 of Albany Devils hockey kicks off on Saturday in the Southern Tier, there was a preseason slate to get through first.  The Devils traveled southwest to Pennsylvania to take on the Bears and the Penguins on back to back nights to tune up for the regular season.  And it was a mixed result:

10/1 at Hershey: 2-1 W

The brief preseason slate got off to a good start with a win in Chocolatetown.  After a scoreless first period, Max Novak would score on a power play 47 seconds into the second period for a 1-0 lead.  Nathan Walker would tie it up for the hosts with a short handed goal nearly six minutes later.  After a few extra curriculars midway through the second and early in the third, Blake Coleman would give Albany a one goal lead with six and a half minutes remaining in regulation.  Ken Appleby drew the start and played well in his third goalie audition, stopping 28 of 29 shots.  Joseph Blandisi would add two assists.

10/2 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: 2-1 L (OT)

It was due north on Interstate 81 for the second game of the week, as Albany took on the Penguins.  Much like the night before, both teams were scoreless through the first, but on Friday it was the home team that would strike first.  Conor Sheary would give the Pens a 1-0 lead 8 minutes into the second period.  Joseph Blandisi would continue his strong preseason play by tying the game up at 1 4:35 into the third period.  The game would then carry over into overtime, where Kael Mouillerat would score the game winner off a 2 on 1 breakout play with just 25 seconds to go in the extra frame to give the Pens the win.  Scott Wedgewood would stop 33 of 35 Penguin shots.

With the preseason wrapped up, just who is left on the roster?  With final cuts from New Jersey having to be made by Tuesday, there may still be a couple of more players sent down.  After New Jersey’s preseason wrapped up on Friday, Marc Andre Gragnani cleared waivers and was reassigned to Albany, while Alexandre Carrier, Gunnar Hughes, and Jacob Sweeney were released from their tryouts.  Carrier will report to Adirondack, where he signed with the Thunder earlier this week, along with Hughes.

This Week’s Schedule:

It all starts for real on Saturday, as the Devils kick off the season with a quick trip west to Binghamton to take on their old/new division rival, the Senators.  Also before the weekend: once the final roster is complete, I’ll update with that plus how I plan on running blog postings for the season.


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Cuts, Camp Begins, and Visiting Old Friends

It’s been a busy few days in Devil land…and for myself as well.  With A-Devils camp officially opening for business this afternoon (and the first games coming up later this week), let’s get caught up with how training camp in the Garden State has been going.

-After Wednesday night’s loss to the Islanders in Brooklyn, the first round of cuts was announced:

Going back to juniors: goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood (Barrie/OHL); defensemen Josh Jacobs (Sarnia/OHL), Ryan Rehill (Kamloops/WHL), and Colton White (Sault Ste. Marie/OHL); and forwards Brandon Baddock (Edmonton/WHL), Connor Chatham (Flint/OHL), and Blake Speers (Sault Ste. Marie/OHL).  Alexandre Goulet, who had been in camp on an amateur tryout, was also let go.

Going to Albany: Yann Danis, Dan Kelly, Jacob Sweeney, Graham Black, Chris McKelvie, Rod Pelley, and Ben Thomson.

The Albany seven will join Joe Faust, Max Novak, Corbin McPherson (all on AHL contracts) and Alexandre Carrier, David Shields, and Gunnar Hughes (tryouts) at Albany’s camp.

-Friday night myself and a friend called ourselves up to New Jersey to check out the first home exhibition game.  And I must say, I’m glad I made the trip.

Adam Henrique greeting fans in the Towers...

Adam Henrique greeting fans in the  Towers…

Scott Wedgewood warming up

Scott Wedgewood warming up (Gio in the background)

When you get to see the first New Jersey win of the preseason (with a former A-Devil in net in Keith Kinkaid) and reunite with your first favorite A-Devil who remembers you even though it’s been at least 3 years since you last spoke to him…it’s a perfect way to kick off your hockey season.

-This just in: New Jersey has made its second round of cuts.  The following 15 players are en route to Albany (additionally, John Quenneville was returned to his junior team in Brandon), with some likely needing to clear waivers first in order to do so:

Goaltenders: Ken Appleby, Scott Wedgewood.

Defensemen: Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka, Vojtech Mozik, Reece Scarlett.

Forwards: Joseph Blandisi, Blake Coleman, Ryan Kujawinski, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, Matt Lorito, Jim O’Brien, Blake Pietila, Mike Sislo, Paul Thompson.

The Devils roster stands at 27, so there may be another additional 1-2 players coming later.  By the end of next weekend, there will be a clearer picture of who will be here, who stays in New Jersey, and who may be heading north to Adirondack.




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Off to Training Camp…

After the Devils rookies got a painful lesson in Buffalo at the Prospects Challenge over the weekend (more on that in a moment), today the veterans arrived in Newark for the beginning of regular training camp.  First, here’s the full roster of who’s in Jersey:

Goaltenders: Cory Schneider, Keith Kinkaid, Scott Wedgewood, Yann Danis, Ken Appleby, Mackenzie Blackwood.

Defensemen: John Moore, Adam Larsson, Andy Greene, Jon Merrill, David Schlemko, Damon Severson, Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Seth Helgeson, Dan Kelly, Reece Scarlett, Eric Gelinas, Vojtech Mozik, Ryan Rehill, Josh Jacobs, Colton White, Jacob Sweeney.

Forwards: Jiri Tlusty, Stephen Gionta, Mike Cammalleri, Adam Henrique, Tuomo Ruutu, Jacob Josefson, Travis Zajac, Jordin Tootoo, Lee Stempniak, Kyle Palmieri, Rod Pelley, Stefan Matteau, Patrik Elias, Reid Boucher, Jim O’Brien, Pavel Zacha, Ben Thomson, Paul Thompson, Mike Sislo, John Quenneville, Tyler Kennedy, Graham Black, Blake Coleman, Sergey Kalinin, Brandon Baddock, Ryan Kujawinski, Blake Pietila, Matt Lorito, Chris McKelvie, Connor Chatham, Pierre-Luc Leblond, Joseph Blandisi, Blake Speers, Alexandre Goulet.

For a numerical roster just click here.

One notable name on this list is Tlusty, who was signed to a 1 year contract yesterday.  His name may sound familiar to Albany fans…he appeared in 20 games with the River Rats during the 2009-10 season, after being acquired in a trade with Toronto in early December.  He would spend the next 5+ seasons with Carolina before being dealt to Winnipeg in February.  In 416 career games with the Hurricanes and the Jets, he has put up 87 goals and 86 assists.  Stempniak and Kennedy are both in camp on tryout deals.

While the veterans were getting settled in for their first day, the rookies already have at least one week in under their belt.  After starting camp on Thursday, they traveled northwest to Buffalo to take on the Sabres and the Bruins prospects.  Saturday night was not a good night against the Sabres, as Nicholas Baptiste would score twice in 3:36 to open the game, including a goal just 25 seconds into the contest.  Justin Bailey would make it a 3 goal lead for the hosts with just over 9 minutes to go in the period.  The Sabres would add on to the lead in the second as Cason Hohmann and Evan Rodrigues would score for a 5-0 lead.  New Jersey finally got on the scoreboard in the third, as camp invitee Alexandre Goulet would break up the shutout just 29 seconds into the period.  John Quenneville would add a 4 on 4 tally to draw the visitors to within three, but that was as close as they would get, as the Sabres would tack on a 6th goal courtesy of Sam Reinhart.  Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 32 of 38 shots in his Devil debut, while Reece Scarlett would get the lone assist.  If you have, oh, an hour or so to kill, the full coverage of the game can be found here.

The rookie contingent looked much better in their second matchup of the weekend, a Sunday night tilt against the Bruins.  Joe Blandisi would score twice and Matt Lorito added a goal, but the Devils would blow a 2-0 and a 3-2 lead en route to losing just 13 seconds into overtime, 4-3.  John Quenneville would add two assists, while Max Novak and Ryan Rehill would have one helper apiece.  Ken Appleby, a possible candidate for Albany’s #3 goaltending spot (read: the one who answers the white courtesy phone should anyone go down/get called up), got the nod between the pipes and stopped 36 shots.  Again, if you have an hour or so to kill, you can watch the entire game here.

After the rookies returned to New Jersey, Novak and Joe Faust were signed to AHL deals and will report to Albany’s camp, which should start up in just a little over a week.  Also some not so good news popped up…Reid Boucher suffered a concussion while in Buffalo, it is not known when he’ll be able to return to the ice.

Four days to go till the first preseason game…hopefully by next weekend we’ll start to get an idea of just who may be suiting up for Albany this season.

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Post Labor Day Catch-up

Only a few short days away from the start of training camp!  But before that, a few news items to get caught up on:

-A third development coach has been hired, as New Jersey has brought in Patrick Rissmiller.  He just completed a 13 year playing career, spending the last two seasons in Italy after bouncing around the AHL between Rochester, Worcester, Lake Erie, Chicago and Grand Rapids.  He last saw NHL time in the 2010-11 season with Florida.  Much like Scott Clemmensen, he will be working with prospects at all levels in the organization.

-On Thursday, New Jersey released the rookie camp roster that will play in Buffalo this weekend:

Goaltenders: Ken Appleby, Mackenzie Blackwood.

Defensemen: Raman Hrabarenka, Reece Scarlett, Vojtech Mozik, Ryan Rehill, Josh Jacobs, Colton White, Jacob Sweeney.

Forwards: Reid Boucher, Pavel Zacha, Ben Thomson, John Quenneville, Joseph Blandisi, Graham Black, Blake Coleman, Brandon Baddock, Ryan Kujawinski, Blake Pietila, Matt Lorito, Connor Chatham, Max Novak, Blake Speers, Alexandre Goulet.

The group will report to Newark on Thursday before leaving for Buffalo later in the day.

-From the “I called it” department: Albany has worked out an informal agreement with the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder to send one goaltender and extra players to Glens Falls during the season, after using Orlando the last two years.  Funny how after being a league rival since the Phantoms came to the Civic Center in 2009, the two cities are working together again.  But it’s not the first time this has happened…you may or may not remember that the River Rats worked with the UHL’s Adirondack Icehawks/Frostbite for several seasons in the early-mid 2000s.  Pierre-Luc Leblond actually got his professional start as a regular member of the Frostbite during the 2005-06 season, the last season of New Jersey’s original run in Albany.  Speaking of PL3…

-Earlier this afternoon, Leblond made his third return to the organization, signing a 1 year 2 way deal.  He spent the last two seasons with Devils coach John Hynes in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, with one appearance in Pittsburgh.  In 121 games with the Penguins, he scored 4 goals and amassed 500 penalty minutes.  During his last stint in the Devils organization in the 2010-11 season, he played 2 games in New Jersey before spending the rest of the season in Albany, where he scored 8 goals and racked up 334 penalty minutes in 64 games.  He was traded to Calgary during the offseason and bounced between the Flames and Abbotsford in 2011-12, with a stop in Norfolk in 2012-13 before suiting up for the Penguins.

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2015 Free Agent Tracker (as of 9/1/15)

Signed for 2015-16:

Raman Hrabarenka

Reid Boucher

Graham Black

Ben Thomson

Ben Johnson

Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly

Mike Sislo

Brandon Burlon

Matt Lorito

Rod Pelley

Scott Wedgewood

Paul Thompson

Jim O’Brien (from HER 7/1)

Yann Danis (from HAR 7/3)

Marc-Andre Gragnani (from EUR 7/3)

Max Novak

Stefan Matteau

Seth Helgeson

Chris McKelvie

Entry Level Signings:

Joseph Blandisi

Ryan Kujawinski

Blake Pietila

Sergey Kalinin

Vojtech Mozik

Blake Coleman

John Quenneville

Pavel Zacha

Unrestricted Free Agents:

Darcy Zajac

Scott Timmins

Corbin McPherson

Joe Faust

David Wohlberg

Maxime Clermont

Moving On:

Scott Clemmensen (retired 6/29)

Joe Whitney (signed w/NY Islanders 7/1)

Tim Sestito (signed w/Dinamo Riga 7/15)

Cam Janssen (signed w/Nottingham Panthers 8/15)

Kelly Zajac (signed w/Lukko 8/30)

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2015-16 Schedule Revealed

This summer has been a lot of waiting.

We waited as the ECHL and NHL all released their schedules.

We waited as new divisions, playoff setups, and complaints about the shorter California 5 schedule were announced.

But today, finally, plans for the fall and winter can be made.

This afternoon the AHL finally released the full 2015-16 schedule.  A total of 1,120 games will be played between Friday, October 9th and Sunday, April 17th.  25 teams will play 76 games, while the infamous California 5 (San Jose, Stockton, San Diego, Bakersfield, and Ontario) will play 68.

Let’s take a look at the full Albany schedule, followed by a breakdown of opponents, numbers, etc.:


10–at Binghamton

17–at Toronto

18–at Toronto

23–at Portland







6–at Syracuse

7–at Hartford

13–at Providence

14–at Lehigh Valley

15–at Springfield





28–at Springfield






12–at W/B-Scranton

15–at St. John’s

16–at St. John’s

19–at Rochester



31–at Utica


2–at Hartford



10–at Hartford


15–at Providence

16–at Utica






30–at Bridgeport


5–at Providence



12–at Rochester



20–at Utica

21–at Bridgeport


26–at Springfield

28–at Bridgeport


1–at Toronto

4–at St. John’s

5–at St. John’s

11–at Binghamton




19–at Utica

20–at Bridgeport


25–at Syracuse

26–at Hershey


1–at Binghamton



8–at Syracuse

9–at Binghamton



15–at Rochester


(home games in CAPS)

The breakdown:

-For the first time since the 2011-12 season, all 38 home games will actually be played in the Capital District.  No Atlantic City or Newark.  With the city on a mission to keep hockey at the Times Union Center, this is a great start.

-By day: Sunday 13, Monday 0, Tuesday 5, Wednesday 10, Thursday 1, Friday 20, Saturday 27.

-By opponent: Wilkes-Barre, Lehigh Valley, Hershey, Portland 2; Rochester, Syracuse, Toronto, Providence, Springfield, Hartford 6; Binghamton, Utica, St. John’s, Bridgeport 8.  No Western Conference at all.

-The Devils begin the season with a 4 game road swing through Binghamton, Toronto, and Portland, before hosting the Pirates on October 24th.  They do play 3 out of their final 4 games at home in mid April.

-Home game times are the same as last season: weeknights at 7:00, Saturdays at 5:00 (except for 1/23, a 2 PM start due to the annual RPI/Union doubleheader), and Sundays at 3:00.

-Albany gets one school day game, an 11 AM start in Toronto on March 1st.

-Longest homestand is 5 games, which happens twice: October 24th-November 1st and January 20-29th.  Longest road trip is 6 games from February 26th-March 11th.

-Only 8 3 in 3 weekends this year.  I’m good with that.

Now all that is left to do is wait out the last few weeks before training camp and preseason, then the fun begins.

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