It’s been awhile since we wrote in the notebook, but finally there’s news to be shared!
-Going back to about two weeks ago: Restricted free agent Reece Scarlett signed a 1 year, 2 way deal. With Dan Kelly’s departure, and the futures of Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka, and Corbin McPherson unclear at this time, Scarlett steps in as the longest tenured Devil defenseman (unless Seth Helgeson doesn’t stick in New Jersey) at 3 seasons. The 2011 6th rounder set career highs last season in games played (60) and points (26), and appeared in 10 postseason games.
-Today, another new name was added to the defense corps, as Brandon Gormley was signed to a 1 year, 2 way contract. The 24 year old native of Prince Edward Island split last season between Colorado (1 assist in 26 games) and San Antonio (4 goals and 2 assists in 39 games). A former first rounder (picked #13 by the Coyotes in 2010), he spent three seasons going cross country between the Coyotes and Portland, making his NHL debut in 2013-14.
-And finally, get your calendars out! Five guaranteed home dates were released earlier today, all on Saturday: November 12th & 26th, January 28th, February 18th, and March 25th. As for the rest of the schedule? You’ll have to wait just a few more weeks for that. (Thanks NBA.)
Coming up on Monday, the second Free Agent Tracker of the offseason will kick off the month of August!
Before we dive into the events of this week’s developmental camp in Newark, there are some updates:
-The last original Albany Devil has left the building. On Monday, Dan Kelly signed a 1 year deal with San Jose. He leaves as the all time franchise leader in games played (352) and plus/minus (+44). So if you’re keeping score at home…that’s 9 players, not counting those who remain unsigned, that have left the organization since May. That number may soon increase to 10, as Marc-Andre Gragnani is rumored to be heading back overseas to an unnamed KHL team.
-However, the only coach the A-Devils has ever known will remain just that for the next two seasons. It was announced early Saturday afternoon that the reigning AHL Coach of the Year Rick Kowalsky will stay on, along with assistant Sergei Brylin. Kowalsky is the third longest tenured coach in the league, behind Roy Sommer (Worcester/San Jose) and Ken Gernander (Hartford).
-It looks like it could be the last season of AHL hockey in Newfoundland, with Monday’s announcement that the IceCaps will move to Laval, QC beginning in 2017-18. After switching affiliations from Winnipeg to Montreal before last season, it was only supposed to be a temporary stay while a new arena was built in Laval, similar to what Philadelphia did with Adirondack while the PPL Center in Allentown was being constructed.
Now a few highlights from camp in New Jersey:
Interviews with Joe Blandisi, Nick Lappin and Josh Jacobs:
If you scroll down the New Jersey Facebook page…I highly recommend the Facebook Live Q & A with Blake Coleman.
Day 2 on Wednesday saw a 3-on-3 round robin tournament with the prospects divided into four teams, aptly named Team Stevens, Team Daneyko, Team Niedermayer, and Team Brodeur, after the four retired NJ numbers. In the end, it was Team Stevens, lead by Jacobs and Blake Coleman, winning the tourney on a shootout goal by 2016 first rounder Michael McLeod. After the tourney, everyone split up around the city of Newark for various community activities…some stayed behind to conduct a youth clinic, while others delivered bottled water to elementary schools or visited local hospitals.
Other team bonding activities? A cooking/nutrition class, a trip to the go cart track, and Yankees-Red Sox at the Stadium on Friday night.
Saturday afternoon came the Red-White Scrimmage. After a scoreless first half, both teams turned on the offensive jets in the second. Team White would hang on for a 4-3 victory, followed by a very long shootout for all participants just after. I had the opportunity to make the trip down…
One of the purposes of this trip for me was to check out some of the current A-Devils (Coleman, Lappin, et al), but also to get an idea of who may be coming up over the next couple of seasons. Who did I find the most impressive? The SuperBuddies themselves, McLeod and Nathan Bastian.
For more photos from Saturday’s scrimmage, check out my full album on Flickr.
Now that camp is over…no more on ice action until training camp in September. But there’s still comings and goings, and the schedule release (likely at least another month away) to look forward to the rest of the summer.
It’s that time of the summer again…the annual New Jersey development camp.
From July 12-16th, 34 players–20 forwards, 10 defensemen, and 4 goaltenders–will be taking the ice at Barnabas Health Hockey House (the Devils practice facility) in Newark. Full roster can be found below:
Forwards: Pavel Zacha, Blake Coleman, Michael McLeod, Nathan Bastian, Miles Wood, Brandon Gignac, John Quenneville, Nick Lappin, Joey Anderson, Brandon Baddock, Ryan Kujawinski, Jan Mandat, Kevin Rooney, J.D. Dudek, Chris Shero, Jesper Bratt, Joe Blandisi, Austin Cangelosi, Brett Seney, Blake Speers.
Defensemen: Yohann Auvitu, Steven Santini, Josh Jacobs, Colton White, Zach Berzolla, Gavin Bayreuther, Luke McInnis, Garret Cockerill, Marc Biega, Scott Savage.
Goaltenders: Ken Appleby, Evan Cormier, Matt Morris, Mackenzie Blackwood.
A breakdown of the roster:
-8 players made at least one appearance in Albany during the 2015-16 season.
-6 players are 2016 draft selections.
-18 are Devil draft picks.
-College ties: 6 players come from Boston College. Other schools represented: Maine, Merrimack, Northeastern, St. Lawrence, Brown, and Providence.
-Family ties: Chris Shero is GM Ray Shero’s son (no pressure, kid).
-9 players are on a tryout basis. Could there be another Joe Whitney or Matt Lorito in that group? We shall see.
The schedule kicks off with two practice groups on Tuesday afternoon, followed by a 3 on 3 competition on Wednesday morning (open to the public), and a community visit later that afternoon. Thursday will feature three off ice workout groups, and Friday will see on ice skills. Saturday afternoon everyone will take part in an intrasquad scrimmage that will also be open to the public (if everything works out to plan, I will be in attendance for that).
-The Captain is back! Rod Pelley will be back for a fourth season as the leader of the A-Devs, signing a 1 year AHL deal. He appeared in 65 games last season, picking up 8 goals and 5 assists. During his three seasons wearing the C (just the third in Albany’s franchise history), he has only missed a total of 19 games, and the Devils have a combined record of 123-71-18-16, along with their only two playoff appearances. With Pelley’s signing, there are only seven unrestricted free agent Devils remaining who need a home for 2016-17.
-Mark your calendars for 99 days from now…or October 15th. Albany’s home opener!
-On Thursday, the American Hockey League announced at their Board of Governors meeting this year’s division/playoff alignment and a few rules changes:
The only divisions seeing any changes are in the Atlantic and Pacific, leaving the conferences unbalanced…14 Eastern teams, 16 Western teams. Gone from the Atlantic is Portland (due to the move to Springfield), leaving that division with seven teams. Tucson (via the previous Springfield franchise) will join the Pacific, and just like last season, all but the California Five and Tucson will play 76 games, while the remaining 6 play 68. (Again, I ask…WHY? Oh…I mean, yay, more fun with math and percentages.) The playoff format is slightly different this year, as just the top 4 teams in each division–no crossovers–will make the postseason. First round is best of 5, with best of 7 for the remaining three rounds.
-As for the other rules changes?
From October-Christmas break, home teams will wear light colored jerseys. After that, dark colors. Okay.
No more dry scrape before teams start overtime. Goodbye #dryscrape hashtag, one of my favorites to use.
So you want to fight in an AHL game? Well, that could cost you:
If you drop the gloves with an opponent right after a faceoff, you’re done for the day…automatic game misconduct.
During the course of the regular season, get 10 fighting majors? You’re suspended for one game. Get fighting majors 11, 12, and 13? Another game each. 14 majors? That’s two games you miss. Continue to get fighting majors after that? Another two games each.
Last rule change involves icing…if you’re the offending team, no time out can be taken.
-Four more signings for the Albany roster came yesterday afternoon:
Returning for his second full season is forward Max Novak, signed to a one year AHL deal. In 43 games last season, the New Jersey native scored three goals and assisted on 14 others, mostly playing third and fourth line minutes. He also made three appearances in the postseason with no points.
Also coming back, but for his first full season, is forward Kevin Rooney. After coming to the Devils on an amateur tryout deal on March 29th, the former Providence Friar performed well in his 7 game stint during the month of April, picking up 3 assists and even seeing some time in a top 6 role.
Two new players have joined the fold as well:
-The signing of forward Jan Mandat, which had been rumored since early June, became official yesterday.
-And a possible replacement for PL3’s role may be arriving in the form of former Oilers forward Luke Gazdic, signed to a 1 year 2 way deal. He split last season between Edmonton and Bakersfield, appearing in 29 games and scoring once for the Oilers, and had one goal and two assists in 11 games for the Condors. But if you really want to see his resume…just watch the following:
That explosion you heard in the East was not from a Fourth of July celebration. Or from a round of thunderstorms.
Nope. That was the Albany roster as we know it blowing up.
On the first day of NHL free agency, a lot of players changed teams, but the AHL Devils took a huge hit, despite picking up three new veteran players that could see significant time here.
-Albany’s top 4 scorers from last season all have new homes, as Matt Lorito signed for two years with Detroit, and Mike Sislo and Jim O’Brien joined former Devil Joe Whitney in Colorado on one year contracts. You may want to keep an eye on the San Antonio Rampage (Colorado’s AHL affiliate) after the day the Avs had.
-Also finding a new home: Pierre-Luc Leblond, as he signed a one year deal with Tampa Bay. He’ll most likely be with Syracuse, taking over from David Broll as the primary enforcer (ironically the two fought each other a couple of times last season).
But, all was not totally lost, as New Jersey took care of a few of their free agents (DSP, Beau Bennett, Jon Merrill) and picked up Ben Lovejoy and Vern Fiddler. And, three new vets who we’ll likely be seeing here come October:
Carter Camper: #20 on the Big Board, the 27-year-old center spent all of last season with Hershey, picking up 34 points (9 goals, 25 assists) in 64 games. He was second in the AHL in playoff scoring, scoring 6 times and assisting on 11 others in 21 games, and lead the AHL in playoff power play points (8). He only has three games of NHL experience, all with Boston in 2011-12. This will be his fifth AHL stop behind Providence, Springfield, Binghamton, and the Bears. You can follow him on Twitter at @carter_camper.
Andrew Macwilliam: The 26-year-old defenseman spent all of last season in Manitoba, scoring once and picking up 14 assists in 72 games. He started his career with Toronto after finishing his college career at North Dakota, getting in 12 games with the Maple Leafs during the 2014-15 season.
Karl Stollery: Another veteran signing on defense, the 28-year-old spent last season in San Jose with the Barracuda, where in 67 games he scored a career high 6 goals and 18 assists. He started his career with the Avalanche organization, spending three seasons with Lake Erie before joining the Sharks. He has some NHL experience, appearing in a combined 12 games with Colorado and San Jose in 2013-14 and 2014-15. You can follow him on Twitter at @stolleryk.
Happy first day of free agency! A few pieces of business before we get to the first official tracker of 2016:
-Add Raman Hrabarenka to the unrestricted free agent list, as he was not tendered a qualifying offer by New Jersey before Monday’s 5 PM deadline. Reid Boucher and Reece Scarlett were tendered offers, and remain RFAs.
-Need a guide to who’s available on the minor league free agent market? You have two sources to use: the Chirps from Center Ice official Big Board (which I had an assist in helping put together), or Highland Park Hockey’s list.
-Finally, mark your calendars for July 12th-16th, for the annual New Jersey development camp. I’ll have more details on that later.
And now, your first scorecard for the summer:
Signed for 2016-17:
Restricted Free Agents (all given qualifying offers):