Devils Bring Bastian Back Via Waivers

New Jersey Devils fans have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. Everything from the team’s record as we hit the about-25-percent mark of the NHL season (especially considering the injuries the team has had) to the young guys like Dawson Mercer really hitting their stride.

But today, the Devils added another item to the list.

The Seattle Kraken placed forward Nathan Bastian on waivers this afternoon and he was claimed by the Devils. The Devils bring him back into the fold and he will join the team in Nashville, available to play against the Predators on Friday.

This fulfills a wish that many fans have had since July.

Bastian was selected by New Jersey 41st overall in the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft. He was exposed during the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft and selected by the Kraken as their pick from the Devils’ roster.

As Sam Kasan wrote on the “Inside the Devils Blog,” this move will reunite the fourth line from last season (when Miles Wood returns from injury) on which Bastian had three goals and seven assists for ten points in his NHL rookie season where he played in 41 games.

The line was nicknamed the “BMW Line” informally as it consisted of Bastian, Wood and Michael McLeod. It was, according to Kasan, “often used in defensive situations or in an attempt to change a game’s momentum. Bastian was also a key contributor to the Devils’ penalty-killing unit.”

Bastian will also be reunited with his “Super Buddy” McLeod. The two have been playing together since their days growing up in Mississauga, Ontario and were teammates with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL before being drafted together to New Jersey.

Bastian, according to Kasan, has a total of seven goals and eight assists for 15 points over 60 NHL games in his career. Kasan notes that Bastian “made his NHL debut with the Devils” on January 19, 2019 against the Anaheim Ducks.

This season, while with Seattle, he had a goal and an assist for two point and 31 penalty minutes over 12 games – including the loss at New Jersey earlier this October.

Kasan also reported that the Devils have placed Jesper Boqvist on the Injured Reserve retroactively to November 18 with an upper body injury.

In some other news, today was, of course, Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. With that came the Thanksgiving morning tradition of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from New York City.

This morning featured something that was mentioned on the Devils broadcast on Wednesday that I completely neglected in my game recap last night.

The NHL had a float in the parade sponsored by MassMutual that celebrated diversity in the game of hockey and was a tribute to NHL pioneer Willie O’Ree – who became the first Black player in the history of the league when he suited up for the Bruins on January 18, 1958.

O’Ree is set to have his number 22 jersey retired by the Bruins on January 18, 2022 at the TD Garden prior to a game versus the Carolina Hurricanes.

Participating and riding on the float was none other than former Devils defenseman and captain and current MSG+ Devils analyst, Bryce Salvador.

He appeared with Anson Carter (NHL on TNT analyst and former NHL player) and Kevin Hodgson and Rico Phillips (winners of the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award).

Both Carter and Salvador got mentions in the opening to the NBC broadcast of the parade.

Phillips, who according to William Douglas, a writer for NHL.com, is a retired firefighter. He won the O’Ree Award in 2019 for his founding of the Flint (Michigan) Inner-City Youth Hockey Program.

Hodgson is the executive director of HEROS which stands for Hockey Education Reaching Out Society) “which” Douglas says, “empowers at-risk youth in cities across Canada.”

Salvador was modeling the Devils’ new third jersey. It was complete with his captain’s “C” on the right side instead of the left, as the “Jersey” wordmark will come up too far on the left side, necessitating a move to the right for the letter. He joked on Wednesday’s MSG+ broadcast that he would be the first person seen wearing the jersey on television.

They were also joined by country musician Mickey Guyton – “who was the first Black female solo artist to earn a Grammy nomination in the country music category” according to Douglas.

The float traveled a two-and-a-half-mile route through Manhattan according to Douglas and had Guyton performing along the way.

It was officially themed “Winning Winter Together” and Douglas mentioned that it “featured a giant snowman goalie towering over a community pond made of skateable synthetic ice.”

Prior to the parade, Carter (who is also the co-chair of the NHL’s Player Inclusion Committee), Salvador, Phillips and Hodgson (who Douglas notes won the O’Ree Award in 2021), hosted a hockey “clinic for 50 members of Ice Hockey in Harlem and Hockey in New Jersey, Hockey Is For Everyone affiliates, at the Sharpe James/Kenneth A. Gibson Recreation & Aquatic Center in Newark on Saturday.”

Douglas said that the league “is donated $5,000 to each organization [Ice Hockey in Harlem and Hockey in New Jersey] on behalf of MassMutual to help them manage operational challenges due to COVID-19. MassMutual is matching the donation.”

We will see you right here tomorrow for coverage of the Devils game at Nashville at 6 PM. Again, a reminder that that game will be streamed on ESPN+.

Devils News Roundup

I wanted to get to some news that has come along that I did not want to roll into the post for tonight’s game recap against the Los Angeles Kings.

First, the big piece of news. Forward prospect Alexander Holtz was recalled from AHL Utica yesterday and will most likely play in tonight’s game against the Kings. He joined the team in California yesterday and practiced with the team in Anaheim before they moved on to LA.

Congrats to him as he makes his highly anticipated NHL debut!

Two players the Devils will be missing will be defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who coach Lindy Ruff said is day-to-day with a lower body injury and goalie Scott Wedgewood, who was claimed off of waivers yesterday by the Arizona Coyotes.

For Hamilton, he is not expected to play tonight versus the Kings as per Ruff. In Wedgewood’s case, this is his second go around with the Coyotes.

He was traded to Arizona from the Devils on October 28, 2017. He previously appeared in 20 games for the Coyotes before signing as a free agent with the Buffalo Sabres in 2018. He signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2019 and then with the Devils in October of 2020. (All of this information comes from his player profile on HockeyReference.com.)

In other news, the Devils’ PR announced today that there were some “promotions and new hires affecting scouting, athlete care, analytics and team operations.”

First, Scott Litwack has been promoted to Director, Hockey Operations/Assistant General Manager of the Utica Comets. He will now work with Devils’ “Assistant General Manager Dan MacKinnon to manage the hockey operations for the Utica Comets American Hockey League team.” He had previously managed “the team’s cap and transactions.”

Nick Blackman will now take on the role of Senior Manager, Team Operations/Hockey Communications. He will now “serve as a day-to-day contact for the players, coaches, management and locker room staff to coordinate availability, scheduling and events for the Hockey Operations Department.”

Caela McLoughlin was promoted to Manager, Player, Family & Alumni Initiatives. She will help “contribute to family onboarding, player community endeavors, alumni programming and PR efforts.”

Craig Lewis is new to the organization and will serve as Software Developer. He “will work on projects and programming within the Analytics Departmart.”

Al Santilli joins the organization from the Pittsburgh Penguins (winning two Stanley Cups while in Pittsburgh) as Head of Free Agent Scouting/Recruitment. He worked ten years with the Pens, where he served in the scouting department as an Amateur, Pro and Global Crossover Scout.

Former Devil Sergei Nemchinov rejoins the organization as a European Scout. He won the Cup with the Devils in 2000 as a player. He also played for the New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks and the New York Islanders over 11 NHL seasons.

Anders Nilsson joins as a European Goalie Scout. Nilsson played seven NHL seasons with the Islanders, Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Buffalo Sabres, Canucks and the Ottawa Senators. Over his career, according to the press release, he was 59-74-15 and had a 3.06 goals against average and a .907 save percentage over 161 games in the NHL.

Michael Sdao joins the organization as an Amateur Scout. He previously worked as an Assistant Coach for the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League.

Ian Greenwald was promoted to Video Coach while Lucas Hurtt was named as the new Video Coordinator. Both men joined the staff last season according to the press release and Greenwald had been with the Binghamton Devils of the AHL previously as the video coach. Hurtt was in his first season in season in pro hockey last year according to the press release.

JT Podell will now be the Head Athletic Trainer after previously serving as an Assistant Athletic Trainer.

Mike Coyne will join the organization as a Physical Therapist/Assistant Athletic Trainer.

And that is your Devils news roundup for today, Friday, November 5, 2021.