Tag Archives: Prospects

Prospects Challenge in Review

Not a bad showing for the Devils rookies in their second visit to the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo over the weekend, going 1-1 and scoring 9 goals over the two games.

9/17 vs. Buffalo: 6-3 W

First game of the challenge came for New Jersey on Saturday night, as they took on the host Sabres.  After a scoreless first period, where Evan Cormier would stop all 9 shots faced, Nicholas Baptiste would put Buffalo on the board with a power play 7:30 into the second period.  John Quenneville would tie the game up, only to see Baptiste score his second late in the period to put the Sabres back in front.  But just as quickly, Blake Speers and Nathan Bastian would each score to put the Devils ahead 3-2 after 40 minutes.  Blake Coleman and Brandon Gignac would score 30 seconds apart early in the third period to put the Devils ahead 5-2.  Baptiste would complete the hat trick late in the game to cut the lead to 5-3, but Gignac would score an empty netter to seal the win.  Ken Appleby would enter the game in the second and stop 18 of 21 shots.  Miles Wood and Kevin Rooney would each contribute two assists.

If you have about an hour or so to kill, here is the full video of Saturday’s game:

9/18 vs. Boston: 4-3 L

24 hours later, it was back on ice in Buffalo, but this time the Devils would face the Bruins.  Cormier would once again draw the start in net, but again only played the first twenty minutes.  Just 2:31 into the contest, a Colton Hargrove power play goal would put Boston ahead 1-0.  Speers would tie it up late in the period with a power play goal of his own.  The Bruins would not be kind to Mackenzie Blackwood in the second, as Anton Blidh (shorthanded) and Jake DeBrusk would score to put Boston up 3-1 after two periods.  The Devils would try to mount a rally in the third, as Gignac’s third goal of the weekend would cut the lead to one.  Rob O’Gara answered with an even strength tally to put Boston ahead 4-2.  Speers’ second goal of the night would cut the lead to 4-3, but New Jersey could not get any closer.  Cormier stopped 13 of 14 Bruin shots in the first period, while Blackwood stopped 22 of 25 in his 2 periods of work.  Gignac and three other Devils each contributed an assist.

No full video, but here’s a quick highlight reel:

With the Prospects Challenge over, time to look ahead to later this week and the start of training camp on Thursday (I will post the roster once released), then the preseason begins on Monday night at The Rock (FYI…I will be in Section 13) and in Montreal.

 

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Ready for a Challenge

It’s been awhile since I had anything much to blog…but now that we’ve reached the near beginning of training camps and the World Cup of Hockey is getting underway, business is about to start picking up around here.

Earlier today New Jersey released their roster for the Prospects Challenge next weekend in Buffalo:

Goaltenders: Ken Appleby, Evan Cormier, Mackenzie Blackwood.

Forwards: Nick Lappin, Pavel Zacha, Blake Coleman, Mikey McLeod, Miles Wood, John Quenneville, Brandon Baddock, Ryan Kujawinski, Blake Pietila, Jan Mandat, Kevin Rooney, Brandon Gignac, Nathan Bastian, Joe Blandisi, Blake Speers.

Defensemen: Steven Santini, Josh Jacobs, Marcus Crawford, Colton White, Colby Sissons, Ralph Jarratt, Alexander Kuqali.

A quick breakdown of the roster:

-9 players appeared in at least one game with Albany in 2015-16; 5 appeared in at least one game in New Jersey.

-16 players are New Jersey draft picks, including three first rounders.

-4 players are invitees:

Crawford, 19, spent last season with Evan Cormier in Saginaw (OHL), appearing in 66 games with 34 points (2 goals, 32 assists).

Sissons is an 18-year-old who just completed his second season in Swift Current (WHL), appearing in 71 games with 22 points (3 goals, 19 assists)

Jarratt, also 18, just finished his second year with Victoria (WHL), picking up 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) in 69 games.  He also appeared in 13 playoff games, with only one assist.

Kuqali is someone to keep an eye on for a potential callup to the Albany roster.  The 25-year-old signed with Florida of the ECHL in early August after completing his collegiate career at RIT.  Over four seasons in Rochester, he scored 59 points in 153 games.

The group will report to New Jersey on Thursday, September 15th, then head to Buffalo shortly thereafter.  They will face the Sabres prospects on Saturday, September 17th at 7 PM, then face the Bruins on Sunday, September 18th, also a 7 PM start.

 

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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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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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