Three Players to Change Uniform Numbers for Next Season

When Lou Lamoriello left the New Jersey Devils organization, so too did a long-standing team rule: Mike Cammalieri will become the first Devil to wear the number “13.” Lou had a long-standing tradition of not issuing the number to players. Although the number had never been issued to any players even before Lou arrived in New Jersey, the rule is heavily associated with him. However, this switch will not be alone.

In addition to Cammalleri switching from “23” to “13,” Jordin Tootoo will switch from “20” to his traditional “22” and Eric Gelinas will go from “22” to “44.”

For Tootoo, his number is, obviously, a pun on his last name. He previously wore the number with the Predators and Red Wings. Gelinas will become the first player to wear number “44” since Stephane Richer in his time with the Devils. He wore the number with the Lewiston MAINEiacs of the QMJHL.

Although a handful of Devils have worn higher numbers, including Jaromir Jagr with “68,” Alexander Mogilny with “89” and Doug Gilmour with “93,” another long-standing Lamoriello rule was to not issue “irregular” high numbers. The players mentioned were, of course, some exceptions to the rule, but generally, the team did not issue numbers any higher than the “30s.” In fact, according to Eric Marin in an article at the Devils official website, the team has issued every number between “1” and “35” to players since coming to New Jersey in 1982 (with the previous exception of “13”).

Marin also reports that, although Cammalleri will be the first Devil to wear the number “13,” he will actually be the second player in franchise history to sport the number. Robin Burns, who is the cousin of former Devils coach and Stanley Cup champion, Pat Burns, and who played for the team when they were the Kansas City Scouts from 1974 to 1976, wore the number then.

Cammalleri has worn “13” for Los Angeles, Calgary and Montreal. He wore number “93” in his second stint with Calgary and took “23” when coming to the Devils last year.

Cammalleri told Marin that when he came to New Jersey as a free agent last season, having a conversation about what number he wanted was not even a thought. The team assigned him “23” and that was what he wore.

The team will be having a jersey buyback from August 13 to September 13, 2015 at the Devils Den Team Store at the Prudential Center. There are some restrictions, so check the Devils’ website before going up to make the exchange.

With changes to the team coming at such a rapid pace, fans have to wonder whether a trade with the Rangers or Flyers just might be incoming. Then again, maybe some things never change.

Devils Hire Savard, Noel as Pro Scouts

In the wake of the news of the Devils hiring a new head of amateur scouting in Paul Castron, the team has hired Andre Savard and Claude Noel as pro scouts to help fill out their scouting ranks. The two new hires will join Bob Hoffmeyer as pro scouts for the franchise.

Savard comes to the Devils after playing 12-years for the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres and Quebec Nordiques from 1973 to 1985 and then transitioning into a front office role for the Nords. In 10 years in Quebec City, he was an assistant coach, a head coach both at the NHL and AHL level and a scout and director of player development.

In 1995, he joined the Ottawa Senators, where he served for four years as head scout and one year as an assistant coach. He then moved on to the Montreal Canadiens, where from November 20, 2000 to the end of 2002-03, he was the team’s General Manager. He then moved to become assistant GM for the Habs under Bob Gainey from 2003 to 2006.

Next stop for him was Pittsburgh, where he was an assistant coach under Michel Therrien starting with the 2006-07 season (the Pens made the playoffs for the first time in six years that season) until 2009. The Penguins made the Stanley Cup Final in his final season as an assistant, losing to Detroit. From 2008 to 2014, he was a pro scout with the organization. During this run, they won the Stanley Cup in 2009.

Savard is 61 and is a native of Temiscarmingue, Quebec.

Noel arrives in Newark after a stint as the head coach of the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. Prior he served as bench boss for the Winnipeg Jets from 2011-12 to 2013-14 (the team’s first three years after the move from Atlanta). Before that, he was head coach of the Manitoba Moose of the AHL (affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks). For the three years leading up to his stint in Manitoba, he was an assistant coach with the Columbus Blue Jackets from 2007-08 to 2009-10. He also spent time as their interim head coach in 2009-10, serving for 24 games behind the bench.

From 2003-04 to 2006-07, he was with the Nashville Predators organization, as head coach of their AHL club, the Milwaukee Admirals, finishing his stint there with a .639 winning percentage, including three 100-point seasons and winning the West Division twice. They won a Calder Cup in 2003-04 and he won the Louis A. R. Pieri Memorial Award as AHL Coach of the Year that same season.

He also has pro coaching experience with Roanoke Valley (1990-91), Dayton (1991-92 to 1992-93 – where he also served as director of hockey operations) and Toledo (2002-03) of the ECHL. He was ECHL Coach of the Year with Toledo. He also was an assistant coach with Kalamazoo/Michigan of the old IHL from 1993-94 to 1994-95 and in Milwaukee of the AHL from 1998 to 2002.

Noel, 59 years-old, played 12 pro seasons as a forward in the NAHL, AHL, IHL and internationally. He also had seven games played for the Washington Capitals in 1979-80. He is a native of Kirkland Lake, Ontario.

As this shows, these two men are both very accomplished hockey lifers who bring a lot to the table for the Devils. They are great to have on the staff and can only make things better for the team in the long run. Pro scouts are an underrated and often overlooked part of any organization and Savard and Noel bring a wealth of knowledge to the franchise. There is no doubt that GM Ray Shero is happy with these hirings.

Paul Castron Named New Director of Amateur Scouting

The Devils have found a replacement for David Conte, with whom the team recently cut ties with. Paul Castron comes to the team from the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team he had been with since 1999-2000. He has been named the new Devils director of amateur scouting by General Manager Ray Shero.

He joined Columbus in the year prior to their inaugural season (which was 2000-01) as an amateur scout. He rose to become director of player development in 2002 and, eventually to director of amateur scouting when he was named to that position with the Blue Jackets on July 21, 2006. Prior to his time with Columbus, he was an amateur scout for the Ottawa Senators for eight years. He joined the Ottawa franchise in 1991 (a year prior to their inaugural season in 1992-93).

Castron graduated from St. Lawrence University (also Shero’s alma mater) where he played hockey from 1981-82 to 1984-85. He graduated with a degree in sociology according to the press release on the Devils’ website. His hockey stats included 56 goals, 86 assists and 142 points to go along with 135 penalty minutes in 131 games. The press release mentions he then went on to play professional hockey at the North American minor league level and in Europe. He played for four years in Sweden where he was a player/coach. He then retired as an active player and joined the expansion Senators as a scout.

Shero thanked the Columbus organization and in particular their GM, Jarmo Kekalainen, in a statement for letting Castron join the Devils. He also stated that “Paul has an outstanding track record of evaluating and developing prospects for more than 20 years. We feel that he has the experience and leadership qualities to help us accomplish our player development goals.”

The 53 year-old, who currently lives with his family in Penfield, New York, should be a good fit to run the Devils scouting department. He has experience in helping build expansion teams from the ground up in both Ottawa and Columbus. This should give him the skills necessary to help build New Jersey into a contender again by assembling the team through the Draft. Free agents and trades are great, but for long-term success, a team needs to be stocked through the Draft and this move seems to be another step by the Devils that shows their commitment to this process.

Zubrus and the Devils Part Ways

In yet another sign of change for the Devils and a push towards the roster getting younger and freeing up some cap space, Dainius Zubrus was placed on unconditional waivers on July 29 with the purpose of terminating his contract. According to NHL.com via war-on-ice.com, he was set to make $3.1 million this season, the final year of his contract.

The 37-year-old winger, a native of Elektrenai, Lithuania, will now be a free agent and it will be interesting if he opts to retire or try one last charge for that elusive Stanley Cup. He made the Finals with Philly in 1997, his rookie year (after being drafted 15th overall in the first round of the 1996 Entry Draft) and with the Devils in 2012, but came up short both times.

Zubrus played eight seasons with the Devils and 18 total NHL seasons. In addition to the Devils, he also played for the Flyers, Canadiens, Capitals and Sabres. His career totals include 225 goals and 359 assists for 584 points in 1,243 games. He also has 771 penalty minutes. In the playoffs, he has 11 goals, 24 assists for 35 points in 92 games to go with 72 penalty minutes. His plus/minus in the playoffs is also an even 0.

After coming to the NHL as an 18-year-old, having never played a game in the minors, Zubrus would go on to become as steady an NHL player as a team could ever hope for. He would become consistent and reliable, a consummate professional, something Devils fans have seen over the last eight years of his career. The problem is just that Father Time caught up with him, he got a little bit slower of foot and the team is now in the middle of a of a rebuild/restructuring phase.

Now the Devils have a lot of new parts coming in and they want to see what those parts can do. Managing the salary cap is also a part of this, as it gives the Devils a little more room to work with either through trades or free agency.

Zubrus has been a fixture with the Devils for almost a decade and this was not an easy decision for GM Ray Shero to make. “It’s always hard. He’s been here a number of years and he’s been a good contributor,” Shero said to NJ.com. “He’s a big boy.” Shero continued, “We had a good conversation and (he) said he understands. It’s not the easiest part of the business, but these are decisions you sometimes have to make.”

Although Zubrus was not one of the Devils’ huge stars over the last eight years, fans understood what he meant to the club. He was a role player, someone who was plugged into the lineup to serve a purpose and he did that well. At this stage of his career, we will see what happens. But no matter what, Zubrus’ place in Devils history is firm. As a great contributor to the 2012 team, his time with the team will be looked at fondly.

If he does not intend to retire, here is hoping he can catch on with a contender and get his Stanley Cup ring. He tasted success early on in his career, but was only able to come close one other time. If he sticks around, let’s hope he gets another chance at a championship.

New Deals for Helgeson, Matteau and Larsson

Devils General Manager Ray Shero and company have been busy of late wrapping up some contracts for the team’s restricted free agents: defensemen Seth Helgeson and Adam Larsson and forward Stefan Matteau.

Helgeson signed to a two-year contract. The contract is a two-way deal in 2015-16 worth $575,000 at the NHL level and $75,000 in the AHL and a one-way deal in 2016-17 worth $600,000 that season. This information comes from the Devils press release.

The 24-year-old defenseman spent most of last year split between New Jersey and Albany. With the A-Devils, he had 2 goals, 10 assists for 12 poitns and 58 penalty minutes over 49 games. With the NHL Devils, he had 3 goals, 19 assists for 22 points and 160 penalty minutes over 22 games. The 6 foot 4 inch, 215-pound blueliner from Faribault, Minnesota played four seasons at the University of Minnesota and was a member of the WCHA’s All-Academic Team in 2012 and 2013. The Golden Gophers went to the NCAA Frozen Four in 2012 with him on the squad. He was the Devils’ fourth pick (114th overall) in the 2009 NHL Draft. (Again, all info comes from the Devils website).

Matteau was re-signed to a two-year contract worth $612,500 a year. The 21-year-old, who was the Devils’ first pick (29th overall) in the 2012 Entry Draft, also split last year between the A-Devils and New Jersey. His AHL numbers show 12 goals, 15 assists for 27 points and 40 penalty minutes (tied for sixth in Albany). In Jersey, he registered one goal and four penalty minutes in seven NHL matches. The 6-foot 2-inch 220 pound, Chicago-born forward made his debut with the big club in 2013 for a handful of games prior to returning to the QMJHL. His NHL totals are 25 goals, 28 assists for 53 points over 24 games. He represented Team USA at the World Junior Championships in 2014 and was named to last year’s World Championships team, but missed the tournament due to an injury.

In terms of NHL experience, none of the players have more than Adam Larsson, who was signed to a six-year $25 million contract (worth about $4,166,667 a year) on Saturday, July 25. This avoids arbitration for the restricted free agent.

The 22-year-old native of Skelleftea, Sweden was picked fourth overall in the 2011 Entry Draft by the Devils and led all Devils defensemen last season with 21 assists and 24 points in 65 games. All three of those categories were also career bests for Larsson. Larsson spent 2012-13 and 2013-14 between New Jersey and Albany after spending all of 2011-12 with the NHL club. He had two goals, 18 points in 65 games for that team, which went to the Stanley Cup Finals but lost in six to the Kings.

GM Shero told Northjersey.com that the team has “only scratched the surface of the kind of player he’s going to be.” He also said that Larsson “played a lot of ice time on the (penalty kill) and 5-on-5. He hasn’t had the chance to play a lot on the power play, yet.”

Of course, much of his development has been attributed to the coaching of Scott Stevens, who is not with the team anymore. Hopefully, Larsson’s development can continue along and he can reach the levels that the team knows he can.

With these players locked up, the Devils look to move towards training camp knowing who they have under contract and can begin the process of preparing for the upcoming year.

All three are exceptional players and will look to make an impact for the Devils in 2015-16.

Tom Fitzgerald Hired as Devils’ Assistant GM

The Devils have made yet another change in this whirlwind of an offseason. They have hired Tom Fitzgerald as Assistant General Manager to Ray Shero. The Devils never had an Assistant GM under Lou Lamoriello.

Fitzgerald has deep ties to Shero, having worked with him in the Penguins organization as Director of Player Development, as an assistant coach on the club’s 2009 Stanley Cup championship team and, as Assistant to the General Manager under Shero. He also served as Assistant GM of the Pens from June 6, 2014 (after Shero had left) to his move to the Devils.

In addition to that, during his playing days, he served as the first team captain of the Nashville Predators for their first four years of existence while Shero was with them.

His bio on the Devils’ website notes that he played 17 professional seasons in both the NHL and AHL, with the Islanders (by whom he was drafted in the first round, 17th overall in the 1986 Entry Draft), Florida (with whom he went to the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals), Colorado, Nashville, Chicago, Toronto and Boston. He played in the AHL from 1988-89 to 1991-92 with Springfield and the Capital District Islanders. A native of Billerica, Massachusetts, he represented Team USA at the 1989 and 1991 World Championships and the 1987 World Junior Championships. He attended college at Providence College for two seasons (1986-87 to 1987-88) where he played one season with none other than Lou Lamoriello as his coach.

He appeared in 1,097 NHL games, with 139 goals, 190 assists and a total of 329 points, adding 776 penalty minutes. In the playoffs, he had seven goals, 12 assists for 19 points and 90 penalty minutes all in 78 postseason contests.

This move is a good one, as it gives Shero another person he can rely on in the front office. Although the sting of Lou Lamoriello leaving is still fresh in many Devils fans minds, this should strengthen the front office even further.

More on Lou Lamoriello’s Departure

With the huge news coming down yesterday of Lou Lamoriello’s resignation from the Devils and hiring by the Maple Leafs to be their next General Manager, I thought I would give a few more thoughts on the whole situation.

Reading some of the reaction of Devils fans around the Internet, the majority of them seem to be a mixture of shock and a feeling that it is what was best for both Lou and the team. Echoing Ken Daneyko’s thoughts to Dan Rosen of NHL.com, they feel somewhat bittersweet. For some fans, Lou was the only constant they have known throughout their lives as Devils fans. Players came and went, but Lou was always there like a member of the fan’s family. Having been with the team for almost thirty years and been the one to build the team from a “Mickey Mouse organization” as characterized by Wayne Gretzky to three-time Stanley Cup champions, there becomes a bond that fans have with the GM that many thought would never be broken.

But now Lou is in Toronto hoping to bring glory back to a team that was a proud franchise in the days of the Original Six, but since expansion has tasted very little. They were the last Stanley Cup champions of the Original Six era in 1967, but have not even made it to the Finals since the league doubled in size during the 1967-68 season.

They came close a few times during the days of Cliff Fletcher as GM, Pat Burns as coach and Doug Gilmour as captain, going to the Campbell/Western Conference Finals two years in a row in 1993 and 1994, but that was it. They lost in 1993 to Gretzky and the Kings and in 1994 to the Vancouver Canucks.

Now, after giving the Devils a history they can be proud of, the task comes to him to reclaim the Leafs’ proud heritage. As I pointed out in yesterday’s blog, Lou will not be able to hide much of anything from the media in Toronto. Things will leak out and he might find it more frustrating to do things the same way he did them in New Jersey. Time will tell on that. Lou is a very smart man; he most likely knows this and will adjust accordingly. If he lets his stubbornness get the better of him, there could be a rough time between him and the media horde that follows the Leafs on a daily basis.

When change happens around the Devils, it happens in a hurry. In the last two years, we have lost broadcaster Chico Resch, who ended his longtime association with the club to go in to retirement, longtime goalie Marty Brodeur, who went to the St. Louis Blues to finish his career and take a position in management there, former team captain and on again/off again coach Scott Stevens, who was replaced when John Hynes was brought in, longtime scout David Conte and the Devils parted ways and, of course, Lamoriello being replaced by Ray Shero and eventually leaving for Toronto. With all of that change, Devils fans whose heads aren’t spinning are going to be more than a little upset. That is okay too. However, there is only one way to quell any unrest amongst the fans, and that is winning. If the team puts a good product on the ice and it results in capital gains over the next few seasons, then all will be forgiven.

One thing that we know is that both teams will be in good hands going forward. Lou’s track record speaks for itself and he will lead the Maple Leafs well over the next three years of the contract he signed there. As for the Devils, it is like team co-owner Josh Harris told Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger in an interview: that he, Lou and (Devils’ co-owner) David Blitzer agreed “that people like Ray Shero don’t come along every day and that it was an ideal time to think about the next number of years for the Devils.” There is no doubt that Ray Shero has a vision for the Devils. It may take a few years for everything to play out, but the Devils should be in good hands going forward.

In addition, both teams showed incredible class in the whole situation. Brendan Shanahan and the Maple Leafs offered an official “thank you” to the Devils organization for allowing Lou to move on to them. Likewise, the Devils owners officially thanked Lou in a statement and Lamoriello even took out a full page ad in the Star-Ledger thanking Devils fans and the people of New Jersey for the last 28 years.

In the end, the word that Ken Daneyko used best sums things up, as this is truly a “bittersweet” ending for the Devils and their fans. While we may have witnessed the end of an era in Lou leaving, we are also setting off on a new course for the New Jersey Devils. One that will hopefully be more successful than in recent years and will give Devils fans something to cheer about as the team returns to its former glory.

Winds of Change Persist: Lamoriello Resigns as Devils President, Hired as New Leafs GM

In another change in a summer of upheaval for the New Jersey Devils, Lou Lamoriello, the rock of the franchise for 28 years, has resigned as President of the team and has been named General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Lamoriello had stepped down as GM of the Devils earlier this summer and was replaced by Ray Shero.

The three-time Stanley Cup champion and Hockey Hall of Famer was hired by the Devils on April 30, 1987 when he was named the team’s second President, according to a press release on the Devils official site. He was hired from Providence College in his native Rhode Island and became General Manager and President prior to 1987-88 training camp. The Devils would go on to make a Cinderella playoff run that season, going all the way to game seven of the Wales Conference Final before ultimately losing to the Boston Bruins, a measure of success that the franchise had never known before. This success would set the tone for Lamoriello’s tenure in the Garden State. Over time, the Devils would win three Cups, five Eastern Conference championships and nine Atlantic Division championships as well as the Patrick Division Playoff championship in 1988.

But Lou did not only win at the NHL level. The recipient of the 1992 Lester Patrick Trophy for service to hockey in the United States and the U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer also served as GM for Team USA in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, which the team won and at the 1998 Winter Olympics (the first to feature NHL pros at the Olympics). In addition, during the time the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association and the Devils were both a part of George Steinbrenner’s YankeesNets group, Lou served as the CEO of the Nets. During his time with the Nets, the team would make two consecutive NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003. He served on the NHL Board of Governors’ Executive Committee as well. In addition, when he was with Providence College as athletic director and hockey coach (a post he held for 15 seasons going 248-179-13 according to the Devils’ press release), he led the Friars to 12 straight post-season tournaments. This includes a trip to the 1983 Frozen Four (as it is now known).

The Devils’ press release includes some amazing stats regarding Lou’s time in New Jersey. While he served as GM, the Devils went 1,093-779-268 for a .578 winning percentage (incidentally, he had the exact same winning percentage as coach of the Providence Friars) during the regular season. They went 136-116 in the playoffs for a .540 winning percentage. In addition, during the last two decades, the Devils had the second-best NHL records overall, going 396-275-110 for a .577 winning percentage in the ‘90s and 422-223-95 for a .634 winning percentage in the 2000’s.

Now, Lou brings all of this to the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team that has not tasted Stanley Cup success since 1967. He joins former Devils player and Leafs President Brendan Shanahan (who credited Lou at the Draft for teaching him a lot of what he knows about management) in an effort to rebuild a franchise that has missed the playoffs for nine of the past ten seasons. Toronto also has a new coach going into the season: the high-priced former Red Wings bench boss Mike Babcock (who called the Lamoriello signing a “home run” for the Leafs organization) and have made moves like dumping perceived malcontent Phil Kessel. Will Lou be able to work his magic in a city that is notorious for its unrelenting press coverage, hungry for every little bit of news it can get from the Maple Leafs? Lou certainly cannot play it as close to the vest as he did in New Jersey with the Toronto media, that is for sure.

Another thing that comes out of this whole affair is that Lamoriello was apparently not as okay with stepping down as GM as he initially let on. Will Devils fans be able to cope with the change? If the season goes south, will the blame be shifted to Devils’ owners Joshua Harris and David Blitzer for “tinkering” with things too much? Will the inevitable comparisons between Lou’s style and that of Shero come sooner or later from the fans? These are real questions that will be answered in time.

One thing to keep in mind is how the team needed a change “as sad as that is” Ken Daneyko told Dan Rosen of NHL.com. Daneyko went on to say that the day is “bittersweet” in that while it is a fresh change for New Jersey, it is also like losing “your mentor.”

But Ken Daneyko is now one of the last of his kind. One of the fans’ last links to the Devils’ glory days, seeing as how most have moved on. Most know that this is a business. They do not call it professional hockey for nothing, but it still hurts on some level. However, the team was left in more than capable hands and has an incredibly bright future. The coming season will be a test, but no one ever said this would be easy.

Devils Head into Development Camp with Signings, New Look

In the heat of the summer, Devils fans already looking towards hockey season can get their fix with some news bits surrounding the team’s annual development camp, which has already started at the AmeriHealth Pavilion practice rink at the Prudential Center.

Among that news is that the Devils have come to terms with defenseman Eric Gelinas on a new contract. The new deal, at an annual value of $1,575,000 over two years according to General Manager Ray Shero on the Devils website, gives the Devils continued depth on the blueline. According to the Devils’ website, Gelinas led the team’s defense in scoring last year when he notched six goals. He had a total of 19 points (good for fourth amongst the defense corps). He played in 61 games last year (a career high for the 24 year-old, taken 54th overall in the 2009 Draft by New Jersey). Last year, he was second among defensemen on the team with nine points on the power play (ranked fifth on the team). His rookie year of 2013-14, he finished tied for third in the NHL among rookie defensemen with 29 points in 60 games played. Gelinas has 13 goals, 35 assists for 48 points and 64 penalty minutes in 122 career games played overall.

Another signing comes from a player who has yet to play a game in the NHL, but does come from a good pedigree. John Quenneville, the Devils’ first pick, 30th overall in the 2014 Entry Draft has signed a three-year entry level contract according to GM Shero. The 19 year-old comes in from the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings, where he played in 165 regular season games and had 50 goals, 74 assists and 124 points over his career to go with 148 penalty minutes. In the playoffs, he had 15 goals, 17 assists and 32 points to go with 28 penalty minutes in 28 games total. The 19 year-old native of Edmonton also represented Canada at the 2014 Under-18 World Championships (where they won a bronze medal) and Team Pacific at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge (they won silver). He won gold with Team Alberta at the 2011 Western Canada Under-16 Challenge Cup. All of this comes from the Devils press release on their website.

After a successful junior career with Brandon, Quenneville comes to Jersey with a highly touted background. He is, of course, a cousin of the Chicago Blackhawks’ two-time Stanley Cup champion coach, Joel Quenneville (who himself is a former Devils player). He also helped lead Brandon to the WHL Finals and was named the WHL Player of the Week for the period ending April 26, according to his bio on the Devils’ site. He posted a regular season high goal and three assists for four points in a game on October 24 against the Kamloops Blazers last year.

Among some of the notables who are in attendance at the development camp include goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, the team’s second round draft pick this year; forward Joseph Blandisi, Blackwood’s talented teammate on the OHL’s Barrie Colts; forward Reid Boucher, who has seen some time with the NHL club over the last few seasons; goaltender Anthony Brodeur, son of the great Martin Brodeur who comes to the team from the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs; forward Blake Coleman, standout at Miami of Ohio; forward Matt Gaudreau, New Jersey native and brother of Calgary Flames rookie sensation Johnny; Russian all-star Sergey Kalinin (forward); Michigan Tech forward Blake Pietila; defenseman Steven Santini from Boston College; and Damon Severson, a defenseman who has also had time with NHL Devils.

The Devils are looking to get younger throughout the lineup and the development camp is the first step to see who will be able to crack the lineup with the big club and where they will end up come October.

Devils and David Conte Part Ways

According to a report on NHL.com and the Devils’ official website, the Devils have opted not to renew the contract of longtime scout David Conte.

Conte, who served as the Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations since 2006, had been with the team since 1984-85 when he joined the organization full-time as a scout and was Director of Scouting since 1993. Devils General Manager Ray Shero was quoted in the press release as saying: “David and I have had numerous discussions regarding his future. Based on our conversations, I believe it is in the best interests of our organization to pursue other opportunities and to not renew his contract.” The GM also thanked Conte for his 31 years of service to the team and that “the search for his successor will begin immediately.”

Conte, who the article on NHL.com mentions had a hand in drafting such great NHLers like Brendan Shanahan, Bill Guerin, Martin Brodeur, Scott Niedermayer, Brian Rolston, Sergei Brylin, Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta, also helped to sign undrafted players like John Madden and Brian Rafalski (as the article mentions by name) and others like Andy Greene.

The 66 year-old graduate of Colgate University had previously served as a scout with the Washington Capitals with GM Max McNab (who would go on to work for the Devils as well) after spending his post-collegiate playing career in Europe (he played in Finland, Italy and Spain). It was there that he made a number of connections that allowed him to succeed in his NHL scouting career. In fact, the Devils’ old media guides used to specifically note his expertise in evaluating U.S. college and European talent, although as his track record shows, he was equally adept at finding talent in any player no matter where they played.

It seems this has been said a lot during this offseason, but the parting with David Conte is yet another “end of an era” for the Devils organization. Conte was responsible for helping to build three Stanley Cup winning teams and a lot of the team’s success over the roughly twenty-five year period from 1988 to 2012 can be attributed to his drafting. But, the Devils have not been where they were used to being: in the playoffs and at the top of the standings. It is because of this that management felt a change needed to be made, and with a new GM comes a new team with him. Shero is going to want his guys surrounding him and that is OK. The end result in professional sports should be to win. If Ray Shero feels that they need a change in their outlook when it comes to scouting and that it will be in the best interests of the New Jersey Devils, then that is how it has to be.

I am sure that most Devils fans everywhere are very appreciative to David Conte for all that he has done for the franchise during his tenure here. He brought some of the all-time greats in Devils (and NHL) history into the league. I am also sure that most fans would wish him the best of luck in the next step in his illustrious career.