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2016-17 Schedule Reveal…

…Finally.

After having to wait since early June (or in my case, mid-May), and seeing both the ECHL and NHL release their schedules, AND having to wait on the NBA to finish theirs, the AHL finally released the 2016-17 slate on Monday afternoon.

As for the Devils:

-They will open the season on the road in Providence on Friday, October 14th against the Bruins.  St. John’s will come in the next afternoon at 5 PM for the home opener.

The full schedule:

OCTOBER

14–@ Providence, 7:05 PM

15–ST. JOHN’S, 5:00 PM

21–BINGHAMTON, 7:00 PM

22–UTICA, 5:00 PM

23–@ Providence, 3:05 PM

26–@ W-B/Scranton, 7:05 PM

28–TORONTO, 7:00 PM

29–TORONTO, 5:00 PM

NOVEMBER

2–@ Bridgeport, 11:00 AM

5–@ Hershey, 7:00 PM

11–HERSHEY, 7:00 PM

12–ST. JOHN’S, 5:00 PM

16–@ Rochester, 7:05 PM

18–@ Binghamton, 7:05 PM

19–@ Syracuse, 7:00 PM

23–TORONTO, 7:00 PM

25–@ Hartford, 7:15 PM

26–ROCHESTER, 5:00 PM

29–@ Bridgeport, 7:00 PM

DECEMBER

2–UTICA, 7:00 PM

3–@ Utica, 7:00 PM

4–BINGHAMTON, 3:00 PM

7–BINGHAMTON, 7:00 PM

9–@ Syracuse, 7:00 PM

10–PROVIDENCE, 5:00 PM

14–@ Utica, 7:00 PM

17–@ Toronto, 1:30 PM

18–@ Toronto, 3:00 PM

21–BINGHAMTON, 7:00 PM

26–PROVIDENCE, 7:00 PM

30–TORONTO, 7:00 PM

31–@ Hartford, 5:00 PM

JANUARY

1–BRIDGEPORT,  3:00 PM

4–ST. JOHN’S, 7:00 PM

6–@ Utica, 7:00 PM

7–@ Lehigh Valley, 7:05 PM

11-@ Springfield, 7:05 PM

13–SPRINGFIELD, 7:00 PM

14–@ Binghamton, 7:05 PM

18–SYRACUSE, 7:00 PM

21–@ St. John’s, 4:00 PM NST (2:30 EST)

22-@ St John’s, 4:00 PM NST (2:30 EST)

27–@ Rochester, 7:05 PM

28–ROCHESTER, 5:00 PM

FEBRUARY

2–SYRACUSE, 7:00 PM

3–LEHIGH VALLEY, 7:00 PM

4–@ Binghamton, 7:05 PM

7–PROVIDENCE, 7:00 PM

10–@ Rochester, 7:05 PM

11–@ Toronto, 5:00 PM

12–@ Toronto, 3:00 PM

15–SYRACUSE, 7:00 PM

17–W/B-SCRANTON, 7:00 PM

18–BRIDGEPORT, 1:00 PM

20–UTICA, 1:00 PM

24–@ St. John’s, 7:30 PM NST (6:00 EST)

25–@St. John’s, 7:30 PM NST (6:00 EST)

MARCH

3–@ Providence, 7:05 PM

4–@ Utica, 7:00 PM

10–@ Binghamton, 7:05 PM

11–@ Bridgeport, 7:00 PM

17–SPRINGFIELD, 7:00 PM

18–@ Syracuse, 7:00 PM

19–@ Springfield, 3:05 PM

22–BRIDGEPORT, 7:00 PM

24–UTICA, 7:00 PM

25–PROVIDENCE, 5:00 PM

31–@ Providence, 7:05 PM

APRIL

1–HARTFORD, 5:00 PM

2–ROCHESTER, 3:00 PM

5–SYRACUSE, 7:00 PM

7–ST. JOHN’S, 7:00 PM

8–@ Syracuse, 7:00 PM

12–HARTFORD, 7:00 PM

14–@ Rochester, 7:05 PM

15–ROCHESTER, 5:00 PM

(home games in CAPS)

The Breakdown:

-8 games each against Providence, St. John’s, Binghamton, Utica, Toronto, Rochester, and Syracuse; 6 against Bridgeport; 4 against Hartford and Springfield; and 2 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Hershey, and Lehigh Valley.

-Saturday leads the way with 26 games, followed by: Friday with 23; Wednesday with 14; Sunday with 8; Monday and Tuesday with 2: and 1 on Thursday.

-Only 7 3 in 3 sets, with 6 on the weekend and one Thursday-Friday-Saturday.

-Saturday home games remain at 5:00 (cue incessant groaning from the fanbase…not from me anyway), except for February 18th, a 1 PM start.  All weekday home games are at 7:00 with the exception of February 20th, a Presidents Day 1 PM matinee.

-Longest homestand: 4, which happens twice (February 15th-20th and April 1st-7th).

-Longest road trip: 6 games, from February 24th-March 11th.

-April is very friendly, as 6 of their final 8 games are on home ice.

-One morning game this season, in Bridgeport on November 2nd.

One final scheduling note: a second preseason game will take place in Cromwell, CT on Sunday, October 9th at 1 PM against Hartford.

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Offseason Notebook #9

Getting you caught up on the news of the week:

-The last of the restricted free agents came to terms, as Reid Boucher agreed to a new 1 year, 2 way contract on Wednesday.

-Adding another name to the Moving On category…fill in defenseman Joe Faust, who spent the last two seasons as mostly an extra, signed an ECHL deal with the Idaho Steelheads.  Updating the list…that’s 12 players who have left (that’s more than half a normal lineup!), and three that still need a home for the new season.

-On Thursday, the NBA released their full schedule for 2016-17.  And why is this significant?  With two teams (Lake Erie…I mean Cleveland…and San Antonio) sharing their building with an NBA franchise, this is the last hurdle to cross before the 2016-17 AHL schedule is ready to go.  The last two seasons it took till nearly the end of August for a schedule to drop, if there’s any indication.

And finally a few links:

All About the Jersey gives an early roster preview.

NHL.com picks their top 5 Devil prospects.

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Offseason Notebook #8

This week in the Notebook:

-What had been rumored for several weeks became official on Monday, as Marc-Andre Gragnani became the second Devil to head overseas, signing on with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL.

-Also in the Moving On category: Brandon Burlon became the first signing for the Coyotes AHL affiliate in Tucson, signing a one year AHL contract.

With Burlon leaving for the desert, 11 players that finished the season in Albany have moved on to other teams, with 4 still in need of homes for the upcoming season.

-For the second straight preseason, New Jersey prospects will join the Bruins and Sabres in Buffalo for the Prospects Challenge, to be held September 16th-19th at the HarborCenter.  All three teams will play a round robin tournament, with two games for each team.  The Devils will take on Buffalo on Saturday, September 17th, then face the Bruins the following day.

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2016 Free Agent Tracker (as of 8/1/16)


Signed for 2016-17:

Pavel Zacha

Joe Blandisi

Damon Severson

Ryan Kujawinski

Vojtech Mozik

Blake Coleman

Blake Pietila

Ken Appleby

Ben Thomson

Ben Johnson

Scott Wedgewood

Seth Helgeson

Josh Jacobs

Nick Lappin

Yohann Auvitu

Jan Mandat

Brandon Baddock

Carter Camper (via Washington/Hershey)

Andrew Macwilliam (via Winnipeg/Manitoba)

Karl Stollery (via San Jose)

Max Novak

Kevin Rooney

Rod Pelley

Reece Scarlett

Brandon Gormley (via Colorado)

Restricted Free Agents:

Reid Boucher

Unrestricted Free Agents:

Yann Danis

Brandon Burlon

Corbin McPherson

Joe Faust

Raman Hrabarenka

Moving On:

Brian O’Neill (signed with Jokerit 5/20)

Chris McKelvie (retired; named assistant coach at Army 5/25)

Graham Black (traded to Florida 6/10)

Paul Thompson (traded to Florida 6/10)

Matt Lorito (signed w/Detroit 7/1)

Pierre-Luc Leblond (signed w/Tampa Bay 7/1)

Mike Sislo (signed w/Colorado 7/1)

Jim O’Brien (signed w/Colorado 7/1)

Dan Kelly (signed w/San Jose 7/11)

Marc Andre Gragnani (signed w/Dinamo Minsk 8/1)

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Offseason Notebook #7

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!

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Developmental Camp Wrapup (and Other News)

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…

Blake Coleman representing Team White

Blake Coleman representing Team White

Ken Appleby

Ken Appleby

Full team photo...during pregame warmup.

Full team photo…during pregame warmup.

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.

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Going Camping

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).

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