Devils Reveal 2019-20 Schedule

The Devils, along with the entire National Hockey League, revealed their 2019-20 regular season schedule today. It includes some interesting notes, so let’s dive in, shall we?

As mentioned, the team opens at home on Friday, October 4 against the Winnipeg Jets. This marks about the fourth or fifth straight season that they kick off against a Western Conference team. (Remember, they started last year in Sweden against Edmonton, even though their home opener proper was against Washington.) They then take off the very next day for a game at Buffalo on the fifth.

Wednesday, October 9 sees our first divisional game and it is against a rival. The Devils head down to Philly to take on the Flyers at 7:30 that night (going out on a limb, but assuming that this might be an NBCSN Wednesday Night Hockey game, given the start time and day of the week). They then return home the next night (October 10) to face the Oilers.

Saturday, October 12 has them in Boston to take on the defending Eastern Conference champs. That Monday, October 14, the Devils will play a Columbus Day matinee at 1 PM against the Florida Panthers at Prudential Center.

Circle your calendars for Thursday, October 17, as the Devils host the Rangers for the first time in the new season. It will also be Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko’s first regular season meeting as members of their rival NHL clubs. Like adding fuel to a fire, this one should get every Devils and Rangers fan going for the young season.

No rest for the weary, though, as Hughes will face his older brother, Quinn, and the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, October 19 at Prudential Center. The Devils then have almost a week off as their next game comes on Friday, October 25 at home against the Coyotes. They then take on last year’s President’s Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, October 30. New Jersey finishes off this homestand on Friday, November 1 against the Flyers.

The following night, Saturday, November 2, they travel to Raleigh to take on the Hurricanes. From there, it’s off to Winnipeg on Tuesday, November 5 as this year’s Western Canada trip kickoff in the Manitoba capital. Thursday, November 7 takes the team to Calgary, Friday November 8 to Edmonton and Sunday, November 10 to Vancouver.

They return home to face the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, November 13 and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday, November 15. They then take a quick road trip to Montreal to take on the Habs on Saturday, November 16 before returning home on Tuesday, November 19 to face Boston.

On Friday, November 22, it’s another quick one-game road trip, this time to Pittsburgh before they return home to face the Red Wings on Saturday, November 23 and the Wild on Tuesday, November 26.

One nationally televised game that is confirmed is Thursday, November 28 (Thanksgiving Day here in the States) when the Devils travel back to Montreal to take on the Canadiens in a game that should end up on NBC.

The Devils return home on Saturday, November 30 to face the Rangers again in the first home Saturday matinee of the season (a 1 PM puck drop). Monday, December 2 takes them back on the road, this time to Buffalo before returning to Newark for a quick two-game homestand. Tuesday, December 3, the Vegas Golden Knights come to town and Friday, December 6, the Chicago Blackhawks visit.

Another big one is Saturday, December 7 as the Devils travel to Nashville. It will be PK Subban’s first trip back to visit the Predators and he should get a good reaction as he was beloved in that city.

From there, they travel to Dallas on Tuesday, December 10, Colorado on Friday, December 13 and Arizona on Saturday, December 14.

Coming back from that road trip, the Devils will face the Ducks on Wednesday, December 18 and the Capitals on Friday, December 20. Saturday, December 21 takes them to Columbus for the first time in 2019-20. They then finish off the schedule before the Christmas break on Monday, December 23 at Chicago.

Coming out of the Christmas break will see Toronto visit The Rock on Friday, December 27. They then travel up to the Canadian capital on Sunday, December 29 to take on the Senators before returning home on New Year’s Eve to face the Boston Bruins in a 1 PM start.

The new year kicks off on Thursday, January 2 as the Devils meet the Islanders for the first time. This game will be at Barclays Center as the Isles will again be splitting time between Brooklyn and the Nassau Coliseum.

The Avalanche come to Prudential Center on Saturday, January 4 followed by the Islanders on Tuesday, January 7. Thursday, January 9 kicks off two road games versus divisional rivals. That night, they play at MSG against the Rangers. Saturday, January 11, they travel to Washington to take on the Caps. From there, it’s back home for the Lightning on Sunday, January 12 and then to Toronto for Tuesday, January 14.

The road trip continues back in Washington on Thursday, January 16 and Columbus on Saturday, January 18. Following these games is the bye week and (I believe) the All-Star Game at St. Louis. Coming back, the road trip wraps up in Ottawa on Monday, January 27.

Coming back home, the team faces a pair of Western Conference foes first on Thursday, January 30 against Nashville and then on Saturday, February 1 against the Stars. This homestand finishes against the Canadiens on Tuesday, February 4.

Two days later, on Thursday, February 6, the team travels to Philadelphia, then it’s back home for Los Angeles (Saturday, February 8), Florida (Tuesday, February 11) and Detroit (Thursday, February 13).

Home games and away games alternate for a few as they travel to Carolina on St. Valentine’s Day (a Friday), then come home for the Blue Jackets on Sunday, February 16, then to St. Louis to visit the Stanley Cup champs on Tuesday, February 18, then home for the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, February 20. That turns into a quick homestand as the Capitals come to town on Saturday, February 22.

Following that, it’s off to Detroit on Tuesday, February 25 and then the California trip. That begins in San Jose on Thursday, February 27, then heads south to LA on Leap Day, Saturday, February 29 and Anaheim on Sunday, March 1. They then finish the western swing against the Golden Knights in Vegas on Tuesday, March 3.

They return to Newark on Friday, March 6 against the Blues. Saturday, March 7 takes them to Manhattan to face the Rangers for the final time. Then it’s back to Prudential Center for the Pens on Tuesday, March 10 and the Hurricanes on Thursday, March 12.

New Jersey then does a Florida trip as they are at the Panthers on Saturday, March 14 and at the Lightning on Sunday, March 15.

If you are a betting person, put money on the Maple Leafs wearing their Toronto St. Pats throwback jerseys on Tuesday, March 17 when the Devils are up there.

They return home for three games at The Rock. The Flames visit on Thursday, March 19, the Isles visit on Saturday, March 21 and the Blue Jackets on Monday, March 23.

It’s then back on the road, to Minnesota this time on Thursday, March 26 before they come back home to face the Flyers on Saturday, March 28 and the Hurricanes on Sunday, March 29.

It’s then time for the home stretch as they travel to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, March 31. On Thursday, April 2, the team finishes their home schedule versus Buffalo and then, on Saturday, April 4, the season concludes against the Islanders, this time at the Nassau Coliseum.

Not bad. According to NHL Network’s NHL Tonight schedule preview, the Devils will log the least travel miles in the NHL at just 31,758 miles traveled. Not a bad deal, but a perk all of the NYC metro area teams get to partake in, generally.

Hopefully for us, the season extends far beyond that game against the Isles on April 4, but for now, this is a good indication that the 2019-20 season will be here before we know it. Is it October yet?

Draft Day Two: Devils Acquire PK Subban

What. A. Day. After getting Jack Hughes with the first overall pick yesterday, the Devils kicked off the second day of the 2019 NHL Draft by making quite the splash. The club acquired defenseman PK Subban from the Nashville Predators in exchange for defenseman Steven Santini, defenseman Jeremy Davies, a second-round pick in this year’s Draft (34th overall) and their second-round pick in the 2020 Draft.

The deal made sense for both teams as Nashville was trying to shed some cap in order to sign free agent forward Matt Duchene and the Devils will take on Subban’s entire salary. New Jersey finally gets to use some of their much-vaunted cap space and add a huge piece to their team going forward.

Subban is 30 years old and is one of the NHL’s premier blueliners. He has appeared in the “last three NHL All-Star Games (captaining his squad in the last two) and has been named to the NHL First All-Star Team twice” according to Chris Wescott of the Devils’ official website.

Subban played from 2009-10 to 2015-16 with the Montreal Canadiens and then the last three seasons with the Preds. One thing that Subban brings to the Devils, besides a booming shot from the point and great offensive skill, is notoriety. He is one of the most popular players in the league and also appears in commercials, endorsing things such as Bridgestone tires. He is also a charitable player who has given back to the community in Montreal and Nashville. It is not a stretch to think that with the combination of Taylor Hall, Jack Hughes and PK Subban, the Devils should now appear on national broadcasts a little bit more than in the past. The Devils suddenly become more interesting to a national audience.

The Devils are getting a player who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman in 2013 and competed in the 2014 Olympics – where he won a gold medal with Canada. The native of Toronto had nine goals and 22 assists last season for 31 total points. He played in an abbreviated 63 game season due to injury. Over his career, he has notched 98 goals and 310 assists for 408 points in 645 games according to Hockey-Reference.com. NewJerseyDevils.com’s Wescott mentioned that he has played in 96 playoff games. In those postseason games, he has 18 goals and 44 assists for 65 points. He helped lead Nashville to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

Welcome to New Jersey, PK Subban!

The Devils also made one other (low profile) trade today, acquiring John Hayden from the Blackhawks in exchange for John Quenneville.

Hayden was the Hawks’ third-round pick in 2013, out of Yale University. He appeared in 54 games for Chicago over the last four seasons, scoring three goals and two assists for five NHL points. He also logged 27 penalty minutes. This information all came via Chris Wescott of NewJerseyDevils.com.

As for the other eight picks the Devils had in this year’s Draft, those were well-spent. The team picked d-man Nikita Okhotyuk of the Ottawa 67’s (Ontario Hockey League) 61st overall in the second round. Wescott said that he had a pair of goals and 15 assists in 56 games for the 67’s last year. The native of Russia was the “NHL Central Scouting’s 55th-ranked North American Skater” and “captained Team Russia to a bronze medal at the 2018 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup.”

In the third round, the Devils had three picks. With the eighth pick, they took defenseman Danill Misyul from Yaroslavl 2 out of Russia. With the 18th pick in the round, they took Graeme Clarke of the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL. Clarke was born April 24, 2001 in Ottawa. He is a 6-foot, 174-pound right winger who plays “the game at a high level. Combines playmaking ability with a nose for the net” according to Future Considerations. McKeen’s Hockey said that he “is also a very gifted puck handler, blending skill with creativity.” He was ranked as the number 77 North American skater by TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

With the 20th pick in the third round, the Devils selected defenseman Michael Vukojevic of the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL. Born June 8, 2001, Vukojevic is a left-shooting d-man and is a “mobile shutdown defenseman who plays a physical brand of hockey” according to Hockeyprospect.com via EliteProspects. The reviews on him are that he is a good skater and “is accomplished at separating his man from the puck and can be punishing in front of his goalie” (McKeen’s Hockey). He was ranked number 76 amongst North American skaters by McKenzie.

Moving on to the fourth round, the Devils had two picks in that round including the third pick and the 25th pick. With the third pick, they took Tyce Thompson, a right wing from Providence College. He is the brother of Tage Thompson of the Buffalo Sabres and was born on July 12, 1999 in Oyster Bay, New York. He was ranked 83rd among North American skaters by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau. He put up eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points in 42 games for the Friars last season.

With the 25th pick in the fourth round, the Devils took Case McCarthy of the US National Development Team. McCarthy of Clarence, New York was born on January 9, 2001 and is a right-shooting defenseman. He was ranked 77th by the NHL Central Scouting among North American skaters. He is described as a physical player, who does not go out of position to chase the big hit. He also has an “excellent breakout pass to exit the zone” as per Future Considerations.

Moving on to round five, the Devils had two picks. With the third pick in that round, they took Cole Brady, a goalie from the Janesville Jets of the North American Hockey League. He is 6-feet, 5-inches, 165-pounds and catches left. He was ranked number nine by the NHL Central Scouting for North American goalies. The native of Pickering, Ontario was born February 12, 2001.

Two picks later, the Devils selected Arseny Gritsyuk, a right wing from Omsk-2 of Russia.

With a pick in the sixth round and one in the seventh, the Devils were on the clock two more times. In round sixth, with the third pick, they took Patrick Moynihan, a right wing from the US National Development Program. Moynihan will be playing next season at Providence College, but he Millis, Massachusetts native (born January 23, 2001) was ranked 73rd among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. He is considered a good two-way forward, with McKeen’s Hockey saying that he “is a diligent and versatile forward, able to impact the game in both the offensive and defensive roles.” Future Considerations said that he “has a good shot and is able to release it quickly to fool opposing goaltenders.” With him committing to Providence, the Devils may or may not be able to sign him following his NCAA career (ala Will Butcher and Alex Kerfoot), but that is the gamble you take on a college player and why you take them in the later rounds generally.

The third pick in the seventh round rounded out the Devils’ 2019 Draft and they took Nikola Pasic, a right wing from Linkoping Jr. of Sweden. A native of Gislaved, Sweden, he was born on October 16, 2000 and was ranked 88th among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting. He is an offensive threat with Hockeyprospect.com saying that “Pasic is a dangler, where he uses his stickhandling to dazzle opponents and gets around them using fast hands and great balance.” McKeen’s Hockey said that he “has a quick release on his wrist shot and is dangerous when shooting while moving at top speed.” Future Considerations summed him up by saying that his “excellent vision and passing skills bode well for teammates and he is great at making plays happen.”

Overall, not a bad haul for the Devils this Draft (quite an understatement, I know). We will see where this takes us as we get closer to development camp and training camp through July, August and September. It is shaping up to be a great time for Devils fans. All I can say is enjoy the ride!

Devils Take Hughes First Overall

Twenty-nine years ago at the 1990 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver, the Devils’ fortunes changed forever as they picked Martin Brodeur 20th overall. Tonight, New Jersey hopes their future will be changed once again as they made the first overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft from the same city. They chose Jack Hughes with that pick.

Hughes, a center who, according to Chris Wescott of NewJerseyDevils.com, was born in Orlando, Florida, was taken from the US National Development Program. He just turned 18 years-old during the World Championship and stands 5-feet, 10-inches tall, weighing in at 171 pounds. Of course vitals like that are useless since he will still grow into his frame and fill out as he gets physically stronger.

He was ranked as the top North American skater by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau at both the midterm and final rankings according to Wescott.

Wescott said that Hughes posted 34 goals and 78 assists (112 points) in an amazing 50 games for the USA U-18 team. He also mentioned that Hughes was on the American team at the World Junior Championship, captaining the US and scoring 20 points in seven games (nine goals/11 assists).

So what are the Devils getting with this pick? According to EliteProspects.com, he brings “(e)lite skating, hockey sense and skill.” He “has most attributes you look for in a star player. A very agile player with incredible speed. He is also equipped with fast hands and his puck handling along with his skating allows him to regularly beat (a) player one-on-one.”

NBCSN’s broadcast team, including Bob McKenzie and Pierre McGuire compared his upside to Steve Yzerman, Johnny Gaudreau and Patrick Kane.

This is lofty praise to be sure, but Hughes was bred for this. Both his mother Jim and his mother Ellen played college hockey. His father at Providence College and his mother at the University of New Hampshire. His older brother Quinn plays for the Vancouver Canucks and his younger brother Luke is a highly touted prospect of his own (eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft).

What Hughes brings to the Devils is speed, great skating ability, and playmaking. The NBCSN broadcast mentioned how he simply makes his linemates better. Hockeyprospect.com, via EliteProspects put it nicely with this quote about his skating: “His edge work, agility, elusiveness, acceleration and top-gear are elite.”

Summing up his playmaking skills, Future Considerations (also via EliteProspects) said: “His playmaking abilities are exceptional and he’s so poised with the puck, he always makes smart decisions.”

But all of that aside, Hughes seems to be all in. When interviewed by NBCSN following the pick, he seemed like he wanted to start right then. He said that he was “happy to be a Devil” and was chomping at the bit to get going.

Coincidentally, this Jack Hughes is not the first Jack Hughes to play for this franchise. The Colorado Rockies, according to Hockey-Reference.com, picked a Jack Hughes in the 9th round, 142nd overall in the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft. He played a total of 46 games (all for the Rockies) between 1980 and 1982, scoring two goals and five assists for seven points. Hopefully this Jack Hughes makes a bigger mark on the franchise.

In other news, the Devils will be opening the season at home on Friday, October 4 against the Winnipeg Jets. The full schedule is to come later next week.

NHL Approves Rule Changes for 2019-20

Today, the NHL announced some rule changes that will come into use for the 2019-20 season. The changes were announced via a press release from NHL Public Relations.

According to the press release, the “rule changes were unanimously approved by the League’s Board of Governors, NHL General Managers and the Competition Committee over the past week” in Vancouver. The release further states that “NHL Hockey Operations will work on the precise Rule Book language over the coming weeks.”

The changes include “Expansion of Coach’s Challenge” which brings a third category to which a coach can call for a video review. Previously only off-side and goalie interference were the coach’s challenge categories. Now, coaches can challenge for “goal calls on the ice that follow plays in the Offensive Zone that should have resulted in a play stoppage, but did not.”

This could include: “pucks that hit the spectator netting, pucks that are high-sticked to a teammate in the offensive zone, pucks that have gone out of play but are subsequently touched in the offensive zone and hand passes that precede without a play stoppage and ultimately conclude in the scoring of a goal.” The release also states that plays “that entail “discretionary stoppages (e.g. penalty calls) will not be subject to a Coach’s Challenge.”

These calls can only be disputed by coaches “if the puck does not come out of the attacking zone between the time of the “missed” infraction and the time the goal is scored.”

An interesting wrinkle in the coach’s challenge is that teams are not restricted to using coach’s challenges if they have their timeout. According to NHL Public Relations, teams “will be permitted to exercise a Coach’s Challenge at any time, but with escalating “consequences” for unsuccessful Challenges.”

In the past, teams would use their coach’s challenge and, if they were unsuccessful, they would simply lose their timeout and that was it. Now, being wrong the first time will result in a minor penalty for delay of game, a double minor for delay of game accompanies each additional time being unsuccessful.

The release continued that the “Situation Room in Toronto will continue to be responsible for initiating video review in the final minute of regulation time and overtime as well as continue to have final authority over all Coach’s Challenge video review decisions from both the On-Ice Officials and a former Official staffed in the Situation Room.”

The second rule change that came out today involves referee review of major and match penalties as well as double minor high-sticking penalties. Basically all major penalties, not involving fighting, and match penalties will be “required” to be reviewed on the ice by the on-ice referees.

This will serve the purpose of either “confirming” the penalty or “reducing” the penalty (to a minor penalty) or the referees can “rescind a called penalty altogether.” The refs will be given “all available video to review their own calls but will not otherwise consult with the NHL Situation Room with respect to their review.”

As for the high-sticking double minors, the on-ice officials will be able to review (on-ice, and again, the Situation Room is not involved) whether the original call on the ice was right and “whether the stick causing the apparent injury was actually the stick of the Player being penalized.” This consultation for the referees is deemed discretionary and not mandatory.

Other approved rule changes include one that involves when a player loses a helmet on ice. Now, when a player loses his helmet, he must either leave the ice surface or retrieve the helmet and put it back on his head “with or without his chin strap fastened.”

If a player is playing the puck when he loses his helmet he will be given leeway to finish the play before either leaving the ice or putting the helmet back on.

If the helmetless player does not leave the playing surface or put his helmet back on, he will be assessed a minor penalty. If a player “intentionally removes an opponent’s helmet during play” he “shall be assessed a minor-penalty for roughing.”

A change to line changes was also made, in that the defensive team can no longer make a change “when a goalie freezes the puck on any shot from outside the center red line.” Also, if a defensive player unintentionally dislodges the net, his team will not be permitted to make a change. “In both of these instances, the offensive team will have the choice of which end zone dot the face-off will take place.”

Also, after an icing or to start a power play, “the offensive team will have the choice of which end zone dot the face-off will take place.”

Goals will now also be awarded to the offensive team if the goalie deliberately dislodges the net during a breakaway.

And finally, when “the attacking team is responsible for the puck going out of play in the attacking zone, in all instances, the face-off will be conducted at one of the two face-off dots in the attacking zone.”

You can see how some of the playoff calls/non-calls led to some changes here. I do like the new coach’s challenge rule eliminating it based on if you have your timeouts or not. These relatively minor changes should make for some interesting situations for the upcoming year.

Devils Announce 2019 Preseason Schedule

The Devils today put out a press release outlining their 2019 preseason schedule.

Overall, they will play seven games, with three at home and four on the road. One of the road games and one of the home games will be a split squad game early in the slate.

The preseason opens on Monday, September 16 when half of the squad will head to Montreal’s Bell Centre to take on the Canadiens at 7 PM and the other half will stay at home in Newark to take on the defending Eastern Conference champs, the Boston Bruins. That game will also be at 7 PM.

On Wednesday, September 18, the Devils will cross the Hudson to take on the Rangers at Madison Square Garden at 7 PM. This will likely be the first meeting between the first and second overall picks in the 2019 NHL Draft (assuming both players are healthy, playing and the Rangers are not playing a split squad with their pick at the other location).

The teams will then move across the Hudson in the other direction on Friday, September 20 as the Devils will host the Rangers at Prudential Center at 7 PM. That will kick off a two-game preseason “homestand” for the Devils. They will also renew pleasantries with the Islanders at Prudential Center on Saturday, September 21 at 7 PM.

From there, the remaining games are on the road. They will travel north to TD Garden to take on the Bruins on Wednesday, September 25 at 7 PM to round out their two games with Boston.

They then travel to Nationwide Arena in Columbus on Friday, September 27 at 7 PM to finish off the preseason against the Blue Jackets.

Much as in the past, I would assume that the three home games plus the game at the Garden against the Rangers will be broadcast on MSG Networks. Of course, the TV schedule has yet to come out, but we shall see. Other than that, this gets the ball rolling as we quickly shoot towards the 2019-20 NHL season.

Devils to Air Special Draft Preview on Official Site

One of the perks for the tri-state area teams of the NHL Network airing out of Secaucus, New Jersey is about to be on display this coming Monday at noon.

NewJerseyDevils.com will be airing a special Draft preview show from the NHL Network studios. The show will air at 12 noon EST on YouTube, Facebook Premiere, IGTV and Twitter (“via the club’s official social media accounts” as per the article put out by the Devils). The press release also said that the show will be available on the Devils’ official website at noon as well.

The four-part show will be hosted by NewJerseyDevils.com’s Chris Wescott and Amanda Stein and will also feature former Devils goalie and current NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes. The three will talk about the Draft as it specifically relates to the Devils, as this is a Devils-exclusive show.

According to the press release the team put out, the hosts will discuss Kaapo Kakko, Jack Hughes and the Devils’ nine other selections in the 2019 Draft. There will be interviews with “draft analysts, as well as Devils Executive Vice President, General Manager/Alternate Governor Ray Shero.”

The press release also promises “behind-the-scenes content from the Draft Lottery, Scouting Meetings, and the Combine” during the breaks.

One interesting note is that the press release mentions “a special announcement teasing an exciting piece of coverage coming soon” at the end of the show.

This last part intrigues me. As much as I love the special Devils-specific Draft coverage that we are getting, you can only rehash what has been said so many times. What could the new content be? Could it possibly be something on the Devils’ site similar to what MSG does for the Rangers, a weekly coach’s show like the former AV Squad? Could it be something giving us more access to the players and management? Or could it be something altogether different? The Devils have been great at creating content for the fans where traditional media has failed us. We will definitely find out what this is on Monday when the special airs.

That part aside, I am certainly looking forward to this. Getting more and more insight into just who the Devils may pick and how it will benefit the team overall is always great. This special should not disappoint.

Devils Sign Boqvist to ELC

The Devils’ Public Relations department today put out a press release on the official website saying that the Devils and Jesper Boqvist have agreed to terms on an entry level contract (ELC). The contract is for three years.

Boqvist is a 20-year-old forward who played the last two years from 2017-18 to 2018-19 with Brynas IF of the Swedish Hockey League. Last season, his first full professional season in the SHL, he had a career high 13 goals, 22 assists for 35 total points. He also recorded 14 penalty minutes over his 51 games. He was in the top 20 in goals, top 16 in assists in the SHL and ended up “tied for second in points by players under the age of 21” all according to the press release put out by the Devils.

In total, he played in 98 SHL games, recording “16 goals and 39 assists for 55 points and 20 penalty minutes with a +13 rating. He added one goal and one assist for two points in 20 SHL playoff games” according to the presser.

The press release goes on to say that Boqvist is a 6-foot, 180-pound “native of Falun, Sweden” and won a silver medal at the 2016 Under-18 World Junior Championship in Grand Forks, North Dakota. There, he played with Jesper Bratt on Team Sweden. The release said that he had two goals and an assist for three points in the seven games Sweden played there.

At the 2018 Under-20 World Junior Championship, he again won the silver with Sweden. In that tournament, he played with Fabian Zetterlund, who the press release notes is a recently-signed Devils’ prospect. In this tournament, he had a goal and a plus-3 rating in six games.

The press release noted that Adam Boqvist, Jesper’s younger brother, was taken by the Blackhawks in the first round (eighth overall) in last year’s Draft. Jesper was the Devils’ second round pick (36th overall) in 2017.

Boqvist also did a Q&A with Amanda Stein on the Devils’ website as well. In that interview, Boqvist told Stein that he is excited about signing with the Devils as it is “one step closer” to being in the NHL and that is “fun for [him] to think about.”

He also told Stein that the NHL was always his “ultimate goal” but that it was fun playing with Brynas IF in the SHL because that was his “favorite team growing up.” Now, however, he is focused on playing for the Devils and that is his dream now.

He said that he “was given a pretty big role on [Brynas IF]” in that he “played on the top line and the top power-play [unit]” and that that was a huge learning experience for him. He told Stein that the thing he learned the most from last season in the SHL was that playing against older competition showed him how strong pro players are and that you have to think the game smarter at that level. He joked that you also “need to play without the puck, too!”

When asked by Stein who he saw as his role model amongst Swedish players in the NHL, he said that Nicklas Backstrom of the Capitals is one (he grew up cheering for him on Brynas IF). He also mentioned former Devil and current Boston Bruin Marcus Johansson as the other player that he admired the most.

When Stein asked what he is trying to show Devils management this summer at camp, Boqvist replied that he can “(h)opefully… bring some offensive upside and touches and just play my game.”

Stein then asked if being a part of the Devils, with a young and talented roster of prospects, is something that is exciting for him. He replied that it is and that he has been trying to follow as much of New Jersey’s games as he can from Sweden. He also hopes to “be part of [the young talent] soon.”

The interview followed up with talk about Jesper’s brother Adam, who Stein pointed out plays for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. Now that Jesper will be in North America, he will get to see his brother again. He joked that “right now, we’re just happy we both have phones!” He also said that it will be nice to be nearer to where Adam is playing. They had “always been on the same teams and city” but are now separated. So that will be nice for him.

Good luck to Jesper Boqvist as we head to Development Camp next month and, eventually, training camp in September.

NHL.com: Hall Does Not Feel He Is Devils’ Top Priority Right Now

According to an article on NHL.com, Taylor Hall does not believe that his contract is the Devils’ most pressing need right now.

“I’m not the priority right now and I don’t really want to be the priority right now” he said to the Athletic Tuesday according to the article on NHL.com. He continued: “They have bigger things to worry about than me” referring to the upcoming first overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. The Devils have ten picks overall in the Draft, which takes place on June 21-22 in Vancouver.

Hall would become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2020, but “can sign an extension of up to eight years with the Devils beginning July 1” of 2019. The 27-year-old signed a “seven-year, $42 million contract” with the Edmonton Oilers on August 22, 2012 before being dealt to the Devils on June 29, 2016 one-for-one for Adam Larsson.

Clearing up some rumors that have made the rounds of late, Hall’s agent, Darren Ferris, “told NHL.com Monday that he and Devils general manager Ray Shero have been in communication.” He said: “I’m in contact with Ray, and he and I communicate regularly, and out of respect to the process, I really can’t provide any details or any conversations that we engage in.” Ferris acknowledged that “(i)t’s a decision the player will have to make in time, and there’s no pressure into making it. It’s just a discussion that is going to be ongoing.”

The NHL.com article quoted Hall as saying, “(w)e never really looked at July 1 as a deadline and Ray hasn’t looked at it like that either. The Devils have never been anything but great with me.”

The rumor I was alluding to up top came from The Fourth Period, who reported on Monday that Hall was “not interested at this time in signing an extension with New Jersey.” Shero had this to say about the rumor/possible click bait via a text message to NHL.com: “No idea where [the website] got that from aside from a ‘source.’ Nothing on our end has changed and I have never heard differently from Taylor or Darren Ferris.”

The article on The Fourth Period kicked off a frenzy of debate and, yes, a bit of worry on Devils social media, message boards and other places where fan congregate to talk and discuss the team.

Of course we will have to wait this out to see how all of this plays out over the summer. The real time to panic is if Hall begins the 2019-20 season without a contract extension in place. Then you are looking at Shero trying to possibly trade him to get maximum value for a player that they cannot come to terms with. But otherwise, we still have some time.

The 2018 Hart Trophy winner “missed the Devils’ last 47 games and had arthroscopic surgery to remove loose fragments in his left knee in February.” However, “Ferris said Hall’s rehabilitation is going well and he remains on target to be ready for training camp in September.”

NHL Tonight: Scouting Combine Special

I know it’s been a long time since my last post, but now with the playoffs winding down and the Draft upcoming, we should be back on track.

Tonight the NHL Network presented a special edition of NHL Tonight. It was called the Scouting Combine Special and featured interviews with and analysis of some of the prospects who took part in the NHL Scouting Combine at Harborcenter in Buffalo.

The first person interviewed was the player expected to go first overall in the Draft, to the Devils, Jack Hughes.

NHL Network host Alex Tanguay – who did the interview – opened by asking how he was feeling now that the moment is finally coming (being picked in the Draft). He asked him who has the best hockey IQ in his family, his dad, mom or brothers (all of whom played or play hockey). He said his brother Quinn of the Vancouver Canucks sees the ice and processes the game better that he can.

He was asked if he liked to score a goal or assist on one better. He said that while scoring is great, he loves setting players up. He said that having Cole Caufield on his line to finish plays is like “getting a free point.”

Tanguay asked him who he compares his game to the most. Hughes said that he did not want to sound cocky, but he feels his ceiling is a player like Mat Barzal of the Islanders or the Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane.

When asked about his competitiveness, Hughes said that “he has not met many kids more competitive than (him).” He was then asked the million dollar question about whether or not he thinks he is strong enough or big enough to make an impact in the NHL. He said that there is a difference between “gym strong” and “hockey strong.” Hughes feels that he might not be the kind of guy who can “throw around a lot of weight in the gym” but does have the strength to stay on his skates and be strong in the corners and along the boards and in traffic. He said he uses his hockey IQ and brain to play the game in a strong way.

He then talked about being a 17 and 18-year-old playing against men at the World Championship and how it was a learning experience for him.

He broke down a play that Tanguay showed him that he made at the at the 2019 World Junior Championship last December. It showed his thought process and just how quickly he thinks the game of hockey. He even mentioned that it is hard to communicate on the ice because the game is moving so fast so players need to know where to be and what to do.

Tanguay finished up the interview asking if Hughes can play right away in the NHL. Jack said “I’m not oblivious to (the NHL) being the hardest league in the world (to play in).” He said that he wants to be “driving the bus, not a passenger” on the team that drafts him. He wants to win and be a part of the reason the team is winning.

Basically, he said that he wants to be a star in the NHL right away and is driven to be such. He said he wanted to “get out of the gates fast” and wants to be an impact player.

Tanguay did a good interview (as short as it was) with Hughes. The one thing I take way from the interview is that Hughes already has an idea of the culture that Ray Shero and John Hynes are trying to create. His verbiage about “not being a passenger and driving the bus” is exactly the type of player that the Devils are looking for.

We only got the interview from Hughes as far as top two picks go, but it was a really good interview nonetheless.