Grier, Salvador Coaching in Prestigious Tournament

Devils Assistant Coach Mike Grier and Devils/MSG+ TV analyst Bryce Salvador will be taking a team made up of minority players to a prestigious tournament according to William Douglas on NHL.com.

Grier and Salvador, both former NHL players – with Salvador serving as Devils captain (the third black player to serve as an NHL captain in league history) from 2013 until his retirement – will be coaching “the NextGen AAA Foundation’s team at the invitation-only Beantown Summer Classic in Exeter, New Hampshire from Aug. 8-11” according to Douglas in his “Color of Hockey” article on August 4.

The team, which is a part of the NextGen Foundation, a nonprofit “that provides mentoring, education and hockey programs to underprivileged youth and underserved communities. It was founded in 2017 by philanthropist Dee Dee Ricks, who has provided more than $1 million to help Black and brown student-athletes at some of the nation’s leading preparatory schools, colleges and travel hockey programs throughout North America.”

The team was “recruited by Rod Braceful, the assistant director of player personnel for USA Hockey’s National Development Team” according to Douglas.

The team will feature some great talent, as forward Reggie Millette will be attending American International College in 2021-22, defenseman Christian Jimenez will suit up for Harvard in the same season and forward Ross Mitton will play at Colgate this upcoming season.

Grier said: “I’m extremely happy and grateful to work with this group of talented players. The game of hockey continues to increase the number of diverse players with the talent and skill to compete in college, in the minors, and the NHL, and supporting organizations like NextGen, who develop those pathways, is vital.”

The NextGen AAA Foundation team competing in the Beantown Summer Classic comes on the heels of Matt Dumba of the Minnesota Wild making a great appeal to the entire sport of hockey in an effort to end racism in the opening to the Stanley Cup Qualifying round in Edmonton on Saturday. Dumba’s speech has been widely applauded and his message of inclusion in the sport is something that has to be listened to if we are to move forward. It was a great message and shows that the face of hockey is not one color or gender, but rather a mix of many different faces.

NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives and Legislative Affairs, Kim Davis told Douglas: “NextGen is carving out a pipeline of diverse, elite-level hockey talent. We believe that in the near future, more teams across the continent will feature more players of color, and this NextGen team is a strong signal that we are moving closer to that day.”

The Beantown Summer Classic takes place in Exeter, New Hampshire from August 8 to 11, 2020 and will be sponsored by the NHL and Pure Hockey.

In other (power outage-backed up) news, the Devils have initiated a program to benefit Newark Working Kitchens.

The team, in partnership with Prudential Center and sponsors Investors Bank and RWJBarnabas Health, have announced Donate a Plate. This is “a virtual fundraiser benefitting Newark Working Kitchens.” This will enlist “local restaurants to deliver nutritious meals to vulnerable populations across Newark, including low-income seniors and families, the homeless, and others.”

Investors Bank and RWJBarnabas Health are kicking things off by donating 500 meals each to the initiative. The Devils and “their Premium Seating Partners” have matched that with 1,000 meals. All totaled, that comes to 2,000 meals for those in need.

The press release put out by the Devils says that “fans have a chance to participate in the giving by creating their own donation pages to share with family and friends. At the conclusion of the month-long fundraiser, the top three donors will receive a future Devils Premium Seating Experience at Prudential Center.”

Jillian Frechette, Senior Vice President, Marketing, New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center said: “We are grateful to Investors Bank and RWJBarnabas Health for joining us in our mission to support Newark residents and the local restaurants which continue to provide meals during this time. On and off the ice, Newark is our home and our commitment to the community continues to be of the utmost importance. The goal of this virtual fundraiser is to motivate others to support those who are in need because together, with our community, we are one.”

Investors Bank Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing and Product Officer, Dorian Hansen said “We are thrilled to kick off the Donate a Plate virtual fundraiser alongside the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center. Newark Working Kitchens is making an impact in a city that has been disproportionately hit by COVID-19 and we are proud to support them in their mission. This initiative is a meaningful way that fans can support those who are in need during this time.”

Barry H. Ostrowsky, the President and Chief Executive Officer of RWJBarnabas Health said “Our partnership with the New Jersey Devils is predicated on promoting the importance of healthy and active living, and proper nutrition is such a critical component. During this pandemic, the more vulnerable communities need our support more than ever, and I’m thrilled that through this program we have an opportunity to provide nutritious meals to those in need.”

The Devils had previously donated $200,000 to Newark Working Kitchens through their Devils Care Foundation.

If you would like to participate, the website to visit is: NewJerseyDevils.com/donateaplate.

Devils Get Revised Conditions on Vatanen Trade Due to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the sporting landscape a lot in 2020. One more thing that will be changing will be the conditions on the trade the Devils made with the Carolina Hurricanes as New Jersey sent Sami Vatanen down to Raleigh.

According to Amanda Stein on the “Inside the Devils Blog” on NewJerseyDevils.com, the NHL was asked to make new conditions by both teams.

The trade went down on February 24 as the Devils sent Vatanen to Carolina in exchange for Freddie Claesson, Janne Kuokkanen and a conditional fourth round pick in this year’s Draft.

Stein is reporting that, due to the season being “halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, and subsequently restarted with the 24-team format, the Hurricanes and Devils required the NHL to help regulate the conditions of the fourth round selection.”

The condition originally came due to Vatanen being injured when the Devils dealt him. Vatanen had to play “between five and 11 regular-season games to close out the year” for Carolina in order for the pick to be a 2020 fourth rounder.

Stein says that Vatanen had to play in “12 regular-season games or 70% of Carolina’s playoff games in 2020” for the pick to be “upgraded to a third-round pick.” She said that the Canes had 21 games to go in their 2019-20 season at the time of the trade. The last condition was that if Vatanen could only “four games or less; the pick would not be included in the deal.”

When the time came to rethink things on the conditions, due to the pandemic and the craziness that surrounded the season as it got restarted, both teams “submitted their perspectives on the deal which the NHL presided over and determined the following stipulations regarding the pick, which includes several scenarios.”

Those stipulations and scenarios are: “If Carolina wins its Qualifying Round against the Rangers, and Sami Vatanen plays in 70% or more of Carolina’s 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoff games, which does not include the qualifying round, Carolina will transfer its own third round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft to New Jersey.” Stein clarified by saying, “If Carolina was to play six playoff games, Vatanen would need to play in five or more of those games to qualify for the 70% minimum threshold.”

If that does not occur and “Sami Vatanen plays in two or more games during the Qualifying Round, Carolina will transfer a fourth (4th) round pick to New Jersey.” Vatanen has played in the two games Carolina has played so far against New York in the Qualifying Round, so the Devils will obtain at least a fourth-round pick, Stein reported.

Another scenario set out by Stein says that if “Carolina wins its Qualifying Round series, Carolina will transfer its own fourth (4th) round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft to New Jersey.” The Hurricanes are currently up 2-0 in their best-of-five series against the Rangers, but should they suddenly fall apart, “Carolina will have the option to defer the fourth round pick they will transfer to New Jersey to its own fourth (4th) round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft instead of transferring its pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.” She says that “this deferral option must be provided to the NHL’s Central Registry and the New Jersey Devils informed prior to the fourth (4th) round of the 2020 NHL Draft. Without such notice, Carolina will transfer its own fourth (4th) round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.”

This is a kind of weird thing to go through to get things right for both teams on this deal, but let’s face it, this year has been weird all around. We will see how the whole thing plays out. Vatanen, as noted by Stein in her article, has a point (an assist) in his two Qualifying Round games against the Rangers and the Hurricanes seem to be rolling on their way towards the playoffs.