Tag Archives: Prospects

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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The New Class

It was a busy two days for New Jersey at the annual NHL draft in Buffalo.  A total of 9 players–7 forwards, 1 defenseman, and 1 goaltender–were picked, along with a trade on Saturday afternoon that provided the parent club with some depth.  Let’s meet the Class of 2016:

1st Round, 12th Overall: Michael McLeod, C, Mississauga (OHL)

After swapping places with Ottawa, giving the Senators the #11 slot and also picking up an additional third round selection, New Jersey chose McLeod, an 18 year old forward who just completed his second full season with the Steelheads, picking up 61 points (21 G, 40 A) in 57 games.  He also represented Canada in the World Junior Championships, scoring twice in 7 games.

2nd Round, 41st Overall: Nathan Bastian, RW, Mississauga (OHL)

New Jersey didn’t go very far for their second selection…they chose McLeod’s linemate (and self proclaimed social advisor).  Bastian also just completed his second full season with the Steelheads, scoring 19 goals and assisting on 40 others in 64 games.

3rd Round, 73rd Overall: Joseph Anderson, RW, USNTDP

With their first choice in round 3, the Devils chose Anderson, who just finished his third season with the US National Team Development Program.  In 25 games, he scored 10 goals and assisted on 10 others.  He will be starting his collegiate career with Minnesota-Duluth in 2016-17.

New Jersey would then trade the 77th pick to Pittsburgh for restricted free agent forward Beau Bennett.

3rd Round, 80th Overall: Brandon Gignac, C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)

Seven picks later, the Devils chose Gignac, who had a breakout third season with the Cataractes.  In 67 games, he scored a career high 24 goals and dished out 37 assists.  He also picked up 16 points in 20 playoff games (7 goals, 9 assists).

4th Round, 102nd Overall: Mikhail Maltsev, LW, Team Russia U18

Going outside North America for this one, the Devils chose Maltsev, who was on loan to Team Russia’s under 18 squad for the 2015-16 season.  In 29 games, the 18-year-old scored 11 goals and assisted on 12 others.

4th Round, 105th Overall: Evan Cormier, G, Saginaw (OHL)

Three picks after Maltsev, New Jersey picks a goaltender (cue groaning from the Devil fanbase).  Cormier just finished his second season with the Spirit, where he appeared in 58 games and went 21-27-7 with a 3.72 GAA and .890 save percentage.

5th Round, 132nd Overall: Yegor Rykov, D, SKA St. Petersburg 2

New Jersey’s first defense selection of the draft, Rykov is a 19 year old who split last season between three different SKA St. Petersburg teams.  He is slated to join the SKA KHL squad for 2016-17.

6th Round, 162nd Overall: Jesper Bratt, LW/RW, AIK (Sweden-2)

The third European of the day to be drafted by the Devils, Bratt (who won’t turn 18 until July 30th) picked up 8 goals in 48 games with AIK, playing in Sweden’s second tier.  He also represented the Swedes during the World Junior Championships, scoring twice in seven appearances.

7th Round, 192nd Overall: Jeremy Davies, D, Bloomington (USHL)

With the final selection, New Jersey chose Davies, a 19 year old Quebec native who just finished his second season with the Thunder.  In 60 games, he scored 13 goals and assisted on 36 others, leading all league defensemen in points.  He is committed to Northeastern University.

(Note: click on each name to check out full reports/reaction by All About the Jersey)

With the draft now completed, a few things to look forward to over the next week:

On Monday, qualifying offers are due to restricted free agents.  Then Friday at noon, free agency officially begins.  Stay tuned for my monthly trackers, and also for the annual AHL Big Board that will be out soon.

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Offseason Notebook #2

Welcome to the month of June!  And the signings keep coming…

-Per RDS, the Devils signed center Jan Mandat to an AHL contract.  The 20-year-old native of the Czech Republic just completed his second season with Val d’Or (QMJHL), where he picked up 64 points (20 goals, 44 assists) in 62 games.  He added two goals in 6 playoff appearances.

-Also on Tuesday, New Jersey came to terms on a 3 year, 2 way contract with 2014 6th round draft pick Brandon Baddock, just getting in under the deadline to sign ’14 draft selections.  Baddock just finished his fourth season with Edmonton of the WHL, where this year he served as team captain and scored a career high 22 goals in 68 games, along with 13 assists and 143 penalty minutes.  He actually signed an ATO with Albany late in the 2014-15 season, but never appeared in a game.

Now to check on the Calder Cup Finals:

Hershey, after finishing off the Marlies in 5 games, find themselves in a 2-0 hole against Lake Erie as the series shifts to Cleveland on Monday night.   The Monsters have picked the right time to be on a hot streak, winning 13 of 15 postseason games (both losses to Grand Rapids in the second round), including their last seven in a row.  They can wrap up their first Cup as early as next Saturday.  Why so long in between games?  There’s another event called the NBA Finals taking over the Monsters home building this week, as the Cavaliers host Golden State in Game 3 Wednesday, Game 4 on Friday.

 

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Tuesday Afternoon Updates

Three more days till the postseason kicks off locally.  But there are a few notes to pass along:

-The official ruling from Saturday’s brawlfest with Bridgeport?  No Albany players (or coaches) were disciplined.  Bridgeport’s Ross Johnston was slapped with a 3 game suspension for supplementary discipline.

-After the first day of postseason practice, two more New Guys have joined the fold, in the form of 2 2015 draft picks: forward Blake Speers and defenseman Colton White.  Speers, a 3rd round selection, appeared in 68 games for Sault Ste. Marie (OHL), picking up 74 points (26 goals, 48 assists), and an additional 10 points in 12 playoff games.  White, a 4th rounder, also appeared in 68 games for SSM, scoring 9 goals and assisting on 26 others, along with 3 points in 12 playoff appearances.

-Just as it looked like everyone was staying put for the 2016-17 season…it’s curtains for the Springfield Falcons.  Their parent club, Arizona, announced this morning that they have bought the Falcons franchise and intend to move the team to Tucson, AZ for next season.  This may cause some realignment with an open spot in the Atlantic Division and a new team moving into the Pacific Division.  Could a new Albany opponent be in the cards?  We’ll have to wait and see.

Personally, I’m sad that I’m losing one of my favorite road trip spots (it’s roughly 85 miles east, a quick hour and a half ride over Interstate 90), and also sad for the many friends I’ve made in the Falcons fanbase.  Hopefully a new team, no matter what league, moves in soon enough.

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Getting A Little Crowded Here…

So much has happened over the last 24 or so hours, it needed its own post before the weekend recap.  And you’ll be quizzed on this later, so pay attention!

Before I head down to The Rock for the final New Jersey game of the season (I’ll be hanging out in 120), let’s get everyone up to speed on quite a few roster moves:

-Just after the pregamer hit Friday, New Jersey sent Mike Sislo, Blake Pietila, and Vojtech Mozik back to Albany.  Sislo finished with 3 goals and 1 assist in 18 games.  Pietila appeared in 7 games in his first callup, scoring once and picking up an assist.  Mozik appeared in 7 games and was scoreless in his first taste of the NHL.  Pavel Zacha was assigned from Sarnia (OHL) to Albany, then recalled by New Jersey.  He is expected to make his debut this evening.

-During Albany’s win in Syracuse later in the day, three more draft picks were signed to entry level deals, with two of those players possibly making their debuts tonight: defensemen Steve Santini and Josh Jacobs, and forward Miles Wood.  Jacobs, a 2014 second rounder and a teammate of Zacha’s in Sarnia, will immediately join Albany on an ATO.  In 67 games with the Sting, he put up 24 points (4 G, 20 A) and a +26 rating, and had 5 assists in 7 playoff games.

Santini and Wood, teammates at Boston College, are likely to make their NHL debuts tonight.  Santini, a 2013 2nd rounder, has been touted as New Jersey’s best defensive prospect, and is foregoing his senior season to sign.  He appeared in 41 games this season with the Eagles, scoring once and handing out 18 assists.

Wood is a 2013 4th rounder who just completed his freshman season at BC after spending three seasons in the prep ranks.  In 37 games he scored 10 goals and assisted on 25 others.

-And finally, congratulations to Albany head coach Rick Kowalsky, who won the Louis A.R. Pieri Award as the AHL Coach of the Year!  He was chosen by a panel of media and other coaches in all 30 AHL cities.  All he’s done this year is lead the team to the third best record in the league despite an ever changing roster.  The only coach the Albany Devils have ever known and the third longest tenured coach in the league, he has a lifetime record of 214-203-38.  Amazing what happens when you stick with one guy despite several cries during the lean years to fire him…

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Week 26 Recap: No April Fooling this Playoff Team

First step of the journey is now complete.  After a 3-1 week that saw a few more franchise records broken, what’s left for the Devils to accomplish as the regular season winds down?

Tuesday: Not long after the pregamer went out, a second ATO signing was announced.  Kevin Rooney, a teammate of Trevor Mingoia at Providence, is another forward who just completed his senior campaign with the Friars.  He appeared in all 38 games, posting 6 goals and 4 assists.

3/29 vs. Hartford: 3-0 W

The week started with another rare Tuesday night matchup, as all the Devils needed was to get to overtime at the least against the Wolfpack and their playoff spot would be booked.  Turns out, they didn’t need the extra time to do so.  Max Novak would get things started less than 5 minutes into the game, picking up his third goal of the season for a 1-0 lead.  Brian O’Neill would pick up his 10th goal during the second to double the lead.  Then Paul Thompson would finish things off halfway through the third with his 13th goal for the 3-0 advantage.  That was all Yann Danis would need, as he stopped all 24 shots in picking up his seventh shutout of the season, third against Hartford.  It’s the second time in three seasons and third time in franchise history that a Devil team has punched a postseason ticket.  Reece Scarlett would add two assists, while Novak and Jim O’Brien had one helper each.  Also of note: it took just a hair over two hours to complete, as both teams combined for just 5 minor penalties, none in the third period.

The Lineup:

Matt Lorito-Brian O’Neill-Max Novak

Ben Johnson-Jim O’Brien-Paul Thompson

Graham Black-Kevin Rooney-Trevor Mingoia

Pierre-Luc Leblond-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Marc Andre Gragnani/Reece Scarlett

Paul Geiger/Corbin McPherson

Brandon Burlon/Raman Hrabarenka

Yann Danis/Ken Appleby

Out: Dan Kelly, Blake Coleman, Chris McKelvie, Ryan Kujawinski, Nick Lappin, Joe Faust, Justin Crandall, Alex Carrier

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 4.  Shots on Goal: 34.  Shots Allowed: 24.

Highlights:

Wednesday: New Jersey is finally getting healthy as they near the end of the regular season.  With Cory Schneider ready to return to the crease, Scott Wedgewood was sent back to Albany after quite a successful 4 game debut stint.  He finished 2-1-1 with a 1.24 GAA and one shutout.

Thursday: With Wedgewood returning to the fold, Ken Appleby was reassigned to Adirondack.  Also, Justin Crandall was released from his PTO and returned to Reading.

4/1 at Binghamton: 2-1 W (OT)

The Devils kicked off the month of April with a trip west to Binghamton to take on the Senators, who were hanging on to the very last thread to stay in the playoff hunt.  Unfortunately for them, the latest team to get into the postseason was not going to help their cause.  Brian O’Neill would get things started early in the first, picking up his 11th goal of the season for a 1-0 lead.  But, it only took about 90 seconds and a power play for the Senators to tie things up, as a Max McCormick shot just got past Scott Wedgewood, who was making his first appearance in net since returning from New Jersey.  After that, he and Senators goaltender Chris Driedger would settle in for a goaltending duel that would extend to the end of regulation.  But just 22 seconds into overtime, as Driedger tried to clear the puck, Marc Andre Gragnani picked it up, passed it to Paul Thompson, who then passed it to Jim O’Brien, and he would score the game winner, his 18th goal of the season.  The win marked a franchise record for a season with 41, passing the playoff team of 2013-14.  Wedgewood turned aside 25 of 26 shots in his 10th win of the season.  Brandon Burlon would pick up an assist on O’Neill’s goal.

The Lineup:

Brian O’Neill-Matt Lorito-Max Novak

Ben Johnson-Jim O’Brien-Paul Thompson

Trevor Mingoia-Kevin Rooney-Ben Thomson

Pierre-Luc Leblond-Graham Black-Alex Carrier

Marc Andre Gragnani/Reece Scarlett

Paul Geiger/Corbin McPherson

Brandon Burlon/Raman Hrabarenka

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Out: Dan Kelly, Rod Pelley, Blake Coleman, Chris McKelvie, Ryan Kujawinski, Nick Lappin, Joe Faust

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 15.  Shots on Goal: 33.  Shots Allowed: 26.

Highlights:

4/2 vs. Springfield: 5-4 L

A quick turnaround back on home ice Saturday afternoon, as the Devils played host to the Falcons.  And it was the visitors who got things started rather quickly, as a Tyler Gaudet goal just 2:27 into the contest gave Springfield a 1-0 advantage.  Then Ben Johnson would singlehandedly take over the next two periods, scoring the next three goals (two of them power play goals, breaking a 1 for 18 dry spell over their last 7 games) to give the Devils a 3-1 lead after two periods.  In the third…the wheels came completely off the wagon, as in a span of 13:40 the Falcons would put a 4 spot on Yann Danis…Michael Bunting (on a power play), Jordan Szwarz, Domenic Monardo, and Matia Marcantuoni would all score to put Springfield ahead 5-3.  Matt Lorito would try to start a late Devil rally with a power play goal, his 17th, with 2:32 to go, and despite a late Devil attack on the Falcons net, they could not get that tying goal in.  The loss marked the first time all season the Devils blew a second period lead (they were 19-0 coming into today).  Danis would stop 16 of 21 shots.  Paul Thompson and Marc Andre Gragnani each had two assists, while 4 others had one assist each.

The Lineup:

Matt Lorito-Brian O’Neill-Max Novak

Ben Johnson-Jim O’Brien-Paul Thompson

Trevor Mingoia-Kevin Rooney-Ben Thomson

Pierre-Luc Leblond-Graham Black-Ryan Kujawinski

Marc Andre Gragnani/Reece Scarlett

Paul Geiger/Corbin McPherson

Brandon Burlon/Raman Hrabarenka

Yann Danis/Scott Wedgewood

Out: Dan Kelly, Rod Pelley, Blake Coleman, Chris McKelvie, Nick Lappin, Joe Faust, Alex Carrier

Power Play: 3 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 4 for 5.  Penalty Minutes: 10.  Shots on Goal: 40.  Shots Allowed: 21.

Highlights:

4/3 vs. Binghamton: 3-0 W

One last home game to close out a busy week, as the Senators came calling for the second time in 3 days.  Scott Wedgewood and Chris Driedger picked up where they left off in their goaltending duel, with the Devils having a clear advantage in shots (18-5 in the first, 13-5 in the second).  It took until late in the second period for someone to finally get a goal…and it was off the stick of Paul Geiger, who picked up his first pro goal for a 1-0 Devil lead. Things were going along fine until a scary moment in the third…a puck hit Wedgewood right in the mask, opening up a cut on the right side of his face.  He left with the trainer to get stitched up, and Yann Danis stepped in.  Not long after that, another first goal of the season for a Devil…Marc Andre Gragnani finally broke a season long goalless drought to provide the hosts an insurance goal.  Graham Black would seal the win late with an empty netter, his sixth of the season.  With the win, two more franchise records were set: points in a season (94) and shutouts in one season (10).  Wedgewood picked up his 10th win, only stopping 15 shots before exiting, while Danis only had to face 4 shots.  Four Devils had assists, including the first pro point for Kevin Rooney.

The Lineup:

Matt Lorito-Brian O’Neill-Max Novak

Ben Johnson-Jim O’Brien-Paul Thompson

Ryan Kujawinski-Kevin Rooney-Graham Black

Pierre-Luc Leblond-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Marc Andre Gragnani/Reece Scarlett

Paul Geiger/Corbin McPherson

Brandon Burlon/Raman Hrabarenka

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Out: Dan Kelly, Blake Coleman, Chris McKelvie, Nick Lappin, Joe Faust, Trevor Mingoia, Alex Carrier

Power Play: 0 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 4 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 21.  Shots on Goal: 42. Shots Allowed: 19.

Highlights:

My Player of the Week:

2-0, only one goal given up in those two starts and having the scar to prove it?  A nice return to the lineup for Scott Wedgewood after returning from a whirlwind week in New Jersey.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Jim O’Brien (18)

Assists: Matt Lorito (35)

Points: Matt Lorito (52)

+/-: Matt Lorito (+15)

Penalty Minutes: Pierre-Luc Leblond (115)

Wins: Yann Danis (27)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (1.56)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.933)

The Vault:

In an effort to help everyone learn about the New Guys that have come in…a bonus two videos this week!  First I offer a highlight reel from last season for Kevin Rooney:

And I couldn’t leave out his college teammate Trevor Mingoia:

Up North with the Thunder:

A 2-1 weekend mark has Adirondack on the verge of clinching a playoff spot in the Kelly Cup playoffs, as the regular season winds down.  Friday night in a 5-1 win over Norfolk Greg Wolfe picked up a hat trick and Ken Appleby stopped 22 of 23 shots.  Appleby turned in another strong performance in a 3-1 win over Brampton on Saturday, stopping 27 of 28 shots, while Gunnar Hughes picked up one assist.  Brampton would return the favor on Sunday afternoon with a 4-1 win, Wolfe the only Thunder scorer.  Adirondack finishes off the regular season this week, hosting Elmira on Tuesday before a home and home series with Manchester on Friday and Saturday, their magic number to clinch a spot at 4.

This Week’s Schedule:

One last 3 in 3 weekend for the regular season, and it starts on the road.  Friday night the Devils head west on Interstate 90 to Syracuse to finish off their season series against the Crunch.  Then on Saturday, they head south on Interstate 81 for their second trip to Binghamton in 8 days.  Finally on Sunday, it’s back on home ice and a showdown with the first place Marlies.

Also this week: the annual end of season awards post.  I hope to have that up either Tuesday night after the STH party or during the day on Wednesday.

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