Devils Prospects to Take Part in NHLPA Rookie Showcase

Amanda Stein of the Devils’ official website is reporting that three Devils prospects will be taking part in the 11th annual NHLPA Rookie Showcase.

She described the event as “an opportunity for Upper Deck to take photographs and video of the up-and-comers in the NHL, with the content collected used for an array of memorabilia including Upper Deck trading cards and digital video posts.”

There will be “28 NHL prospects and rookies” attending including Jack Hughes, Ty Smith and Jesper Boqvist attending from the Devils.

Stein said that “the event involves a group activity for the players as well as wrapping up with a team scrimmage.” It will take place August 25 at the MedStar Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Virginia, the Capitals’ practice facility.

In other news, Taylor Hall was named 15th on the NHL Network’s List of Top 20 Wingers.

The Devils’ official website blogger Chris Wescott quoted NHL Network analyst (and former Devil) Mike Rupp as saying: “When he’s in the lineup, he’s contributing, he’s getting points. Look for him to have another bounce-back year this year and probably be higher on the list next year.”

The 2018 Hart Trophy winner was the only Devil to make the list.

Devils’ 2019 Offseason

So we are now in the dog days of Summer and there has not been much news out of the New Jersey Devils since the Will Butcher re-signing in late July. Since things have been a little bit slow, I wanted to take a little bit of a retrospective look at the Devils’ offseason so far in 2019.

From trading for PK Subban and Nikita Gusev to signing free agent Wayne Simmonds to re-upping their own Butcher, the Devils have had quite the Summer.

There is still work to be done. RFA Pavel Zacha is still a priority to re-sign and Ray Shero could always make another trade just prior to the regular season starting.

The left-side defense is still a place the Devils would like to upgrade and add a piece to. Although when thinking about the D, you have to pencil in a place for Ty Smith, who will likely be added this year to the big club. Where does this place the Devils’ defense overall?

Likewise, up front you have to wonder who will make the team out of camp. Will someone on the bubble such as a Michael McLeod have a breakout camp and make the team? Where does Jesper Boqvist fit in now with Gusev in the picture? Will he be playing in North America this year or going back to Sweden to play in the SHL for the year?

What we would love to have is anyone who is reading to leave some of their thoughts in the comments below. How do you think the fanbase feels about the offseason overall? Do you have any concerns for the team going into 2019-20? Do you have any line combinations you would like to see? How would you construct the defensive pairings if you were John Hynes?

Again, we’d love to hear from the fans about the upcoming season, good or bad. Just leave a comment below.

Thanks!

Devils Re-Sign Butcher to Three-Year Contract

The Devils continued to build their team going forward as they have today re-signed defenseman Will Butcher to a three-year contract worth $11.19 million ($3.73 million annually). Butcher, a restricted free agent, will avoid a salary arbitration hearing that was scheduled for Friday, according to the Devils’ press release on the subject.

Butcher, 24, had 30 points last year, including four goals and 26 assists in 78 games played. That likely played into the contract numbers.

Butcher originally signed a two-year entry level contract worth $925,000 annually after deciding to sign with the Devils on August 27, 2917 according to the press release. He was originally drafted in the fifth round (123rd overall) by the Colorado Avalanche in 2013 but declined to sign with them following four years at the University of Denver.

While at the University of Denver, he won the 2017 Hobey Baker Award “as the top player in NCAA Division I men’s hockey.” He also led the Pioneers to a National Championship also in 2017.

His career totals in the NHL thus far read: 74 points (nine goals and 65 assists) over 159 games (regular season) and four points (a goal and three assists) over just five playoff games all for the Devils.

According to the Devils’ PR Department’s press release, in his rookie year, Butcher “set a franchise record for points in a Devils’/NHL debut with 3A (3PTS) in the team’s home opener October 7 vs. Colorado.” He also was the “first rookie defenseman in NHL history to record at least 8A in his first 3GP of an NHL career.” In addition, Butcher was “the first Devil in team history to reach 20PTS in first 30 NHL games.” He led Devils’ defensemen in scoring with 44 points (five goals and 39 assists) in his rookie year, ending up fourth in the team in scoring overall. The Sun Prairie, Wisconsin native was also named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team following the conclusion of his rookie year in 2017-18.

Devils Trade for Gusev

The Devils today announced that they have acquired Nikita Gusev from the Vegas Golden Knights. The left wing was picked up in exchange for the Devils’ third round Draft pick in 2020 and their second-round pick in 2021.

Following the deal with the restricted free agent, the Devils have announced that they have come to terms on a contract with him, worth an average annual value of $4,500,000. The two-year contract, according to the Devils’ website’s Chris Wescott, breaks down to $5,000,000 in 2019-20 and $4,000,000 in 2020-21.

Gusev spent last year with SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) according to Wescott. He was drafted by Tampa Bay in 2012, their eighth pick (202nd overall). Vegas then acquired him in a deal at the Expansion Draft, sending a second-round pick in 2017 and a fourth rounder in 2018 to Tampa in exchange.

According to Wescott, he came to North America during the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, but did not play a game for the Knights.

He has played all of his pro career up to this point in Russia in the KHL. Wescott said that he played with Amur Khabarovsk in 2012-13, Yugra Khanty-Manslysk from 2013 to 2016 and SKA St. Petersburg from 2016 to 2019. Wescott listed the 27-year-old’s KHL stats as: 119 goals and 213 assists (332 points) and 64 penalty minutes all in 391 games. In the KHL playoffs, he has 28 goals and 40 assists (68 points) over 67 games. He won the 2017 Gargarin Cup (the KHL championship) with SKA St. Petersburg in 2017.

This past season, Wescott reports that Gusev “led the KHL in assists and points and was selected to his fourth KHL All-Star Game.”

Wescott mentioned in the press release that Gusev has competed internationally for Russia in the 2012 World Junior Championship, the 2017 World Championship and the 2018 Olympics. He won a bronze medal in 2017 (also leading the tournament in goals that year) and gold at the 2018 Olympics. At that tournament in Pyeongchang, South Korea, he had four goals and eight assists (12 points) over six games. Wescott says that “(h)is assist and point totals led all skaters” in the 2018 Olympics. Gusev “was named the Best Forward of” the Olympic tournament.

In other news reported by the Devils and Wescott, the right-shooting Gusev, who just celebrated a birthday (born on July 8, 1992), will wear number 97 for the team this coming season.

Gusev makes a great addition to the Devils offensively. As GM Ray Shero told Wescott in a separate post on the Devils’ website: “Nikita is a winger who adds another offensive dimension to our hockey club with his outstanding instincts, vision and skill level.”

Wescott, in a third post entitled “Three Things: Get to Know Gusev”, mentioned that Gusev was second in the KHL in scoring in 2017-18, while also winning their equivalent of the Hart Trophy as regular season MVP, and the KHL Gentleman Award (similar to the Lady Byng Trophy here in the NHL). Gusev also scored 82 points total in 2018-19, which stands as “the second-highest point total in KHL history.”

In his third point in his article, Wescott brings up something very interesting. Why did the Golden Knights part with a player who has such a high upside? The answer lies in the salary cap. As Wescott said, he “was a cap casualty.”

The article says that Gusev “had signed a one-year, entry-level deal with Vegas on April 14 but he did not appear in the playoffs. The contract expired after the season, making Gusev a restricted free agent [without arbitration rights].”

Basically, Gusev was asking more than Vegas (a team up against the cap) could afford. Since the Devils had cap space in abundance, they were able to swoop in and acquire Gusev.

Devils Introduce PK Subban at Prudential Center Events

I was lucky enough to get to attend the events earlier this evening introducing PK Subban to Devils fans at Prudential Center. The events consisted of a Q&A session with season ticket holders and a press conference. Subban was picked up in a Draft day trade by the Devils from the Nashville Predators.

The Q&A session was really interesting as season ticket members came out about 200 or so strong. The event was held near the new Lofts area at the Prudential Center, if you are familiar with where MSG Networks used to tape the pre and post game shows from.

Subban made his entrance wearing a jacket that was given to him by some fans at an event in Hoboken yesterday. The jacket featured the Devils logo on the back, his trademark number 76, a patch of the Canadian flag as well as quotes like “let’s go!” written on it. PK later revealed that he put a Devils “Hockey is for Everyone” pin on it, because he just liked it.

Questions were fielded by Devils radio play-by-play man Matt Loughlin and ranged from harder hitting (one gentleman wanted to know where PK saw himself slotting in on the defense corps) to relative softballs for PK from younger fans.

One young man wanted to take up hockey, but was a little older at about 10 years-old. PK encouraged the young fan and told him a story about his brother Malcom, a goalie with the Vegas Golden Knights. He mentioned that Malcom, although he took up hockey young, did not become a goalie until he was 12 years-old. He then went on to get drafted into the NHL, even though he took up goaltending at a relatively older age.

His advice for the young fans was to “dream and put in the work.” He emphasized that working hard is how athletes get to where they are and dreams fuel that hard work.

When asked who his idols were growing up, PK said that he generally idolized his parents, who helped three boys play hockey at a high level and put two daughters through college. As far as sports were concerned, he said that top achievers like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan were favorites, but that his hockey idols included Scott Stevens.

He then told a funny story about laying a big hit on someone in his rookie year in Montreal. He got back to the bench laughing and former Devil Scott Gomez immediately chastised him, telling him that Scott Stevens would never laugh when he hit an opponent. Subban questioned him, saying that he saw the famous video of Stevens laughing down the bench and pointing towards the Red Wings in the 1995 Stanley Cup Final. Gomez quickly told the rookie to be quiet and listen to the veterans.

He was asked about his charitable work and he confirmed that he will continue to work with the community here in Newark and that he always felt it was his duty as a pro athlete to give back to those less fortunate.

Following the Q&A session, the season ticket members were brought into the main bowl of the arena where they were joined by other fans (and prospective season ticket holders) and office staff for the Devils and Prudential Center as well as some other special guests.

This was the press conference portion of the evening and it was very entertaining.

A drum line made up of kids from area schools played on a stage with large letters spelling out “DEVILS” before PK made his entrance to The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” along with an intro by Devils public address announcer Kevin Clark. Loughlin also emceed this event as well.

This part of the event also featured Devils head coach John Hynes and Devils front office member/legend Martin Brodeur. Both talked about how great it was to have PK aboard as well as the Devils’ other changes this offseason, such as getting Jack Hughes with the first overall pick and signing free agent Wayne Simmonds.

Both Marty and Hynes felt that the future is bright for the franchise and Hynes even joked that getting guys like PK makes things harder for him as he always complains that they need a player to fill a gap and when they finally get that player, that is when the hard work really begins.

Marty told PK that he will be really impressed with New Jersey as a place to live and grow. Loughlin asked PK if he will be living in the city or the suburbs and PK responded that he likes the privacy and quiet of living in the suburbs and started doing that when he was with Nashville.

After Marty and Hynes vacated the stage, the Devils brought up Vice President of Community Investment and Grassroots, Jeff Scott. He spoke to PK’s great community outreach and asked if he would meet with a few young fans representing such area institutions as Hockey in New Jersey’s clubs in Newark, Jersey City and Montclair, the YMCA and Covenant House.

The youngsters were given Subban jerseys, but PK upped the ante when he asked for a pen to sign them for the kids. One of the youth representatives of Hockey in New Jersey then presented PK with his own Hockey in New Jersey jersey.

But there was still one more gift to be given. This one was “from the fans” and reflected PK’s love of pro wrestler Ric Flair, who himself has become an icon amongst Devils’ fans due to his signature “woooo” being played after goals. After playing the Flair pump up video on the big scoreboard, mascot NJ Devil handed him a Ric Flair robe complete with feathers, sparkles and a Devils logo and his nickname “the Subbanator” on the back.

From there, the event ended and PK signed autographs for kids in the front row. This was not a staged thing, either, as the kids all ran up to the stage following the conclusion of the event.

From there, Subban would go on to do “NHL Tonight” on the NHL Network and a real press conference for the media.

It was an entertaining night all around. I know that this comes as no surprise to anyone, but PK Subban is an amazingly engaging and charming person when you see him. He is not putting on an act, as he is naturally charismatic and great with the fans. But he is also a great hockey player and will hopefully fulfill his dream of winning a Stanley Cup in New Jersey.

He knows the history of the franchise and he is willing to do all he can to get the team to glory. As he put it: if I score 70 points and we don’t win, what good is that? I’d rather score 50 points and win a Cup than 70 and not win anything.

Devils to Take Part in Prospects Challenge Again This Year

Once again this September, the Devils will be participating in the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo according to a post on the Devils’ official website by Marc Ciampa.

The mini tournament takes place from September 6 to 9 at Harborcenter in Buffalo. Just as last year, the other teams competing will be the Buffalo Sabres, the Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Devils will kick off the Challenge by taking on host Buffalo in the late game on Friday, September 6. That game is at 7 PM. On Saturday, September 7, the Devils will face Pittsburgh in the 3:30 PM game. On Monday, September 9, they will faceoff with Boston at 9:30 AM.

All games, according to Ciampa, will be streamed live on the Devils’ website at NewJerseyDevils.com.

If you plan to go, tickets for all games are $10 and can be purchased on the Sabres’ official website (Sabres.com), by phone (1-888-223-6000) or at the KeyBank Center box office (the arena the Sabres call home is right next door to Harborcenter).

The Prospects Challenge is always a good time as it officially kicks off the preseason and gets the ball rolling towards October.

Mueller Signed to One-Year Contract

Restricted free agent defenseman Mirco Mueller has been brought back into the Devils’ fold, signing a one-year contract worth $1,400,000.

The 24-year-old blueliner returns after posting a goal and ten assists (11 points) in 2018-19. He also had 17 penalty minutes all in 53 games for New Jersey last year according to the press release put out by the Devils today.

Originally a San Jose Shark draft pick, Mueller is entering his fifth NHL season and third with the Devils. He was acquired by the Devils from the Sharks prior to the 2017-18 season along with San Jose’s fifth round pick in the 2017 Draft in exchange for the Devils’ second and fourth round picks in 2017 according to hockey-reference.com.

The native of Winterthur, Switzerland has played in 135 NHL regular season games, scoring three goals and 18 assists (21 points) and registering 38 penalty minutes – all according to the press release.

In other Devils organizational news, according to sportslogos.net’s Chris Creamer, the Devils’ ECHL affiliate has unveiled a logo for their fifth anniversary.

The Adirondack Thunder released the logo today, as this upcoming season (2019-2020) will mark their fifth season in Glens Falls, New York. They moved to the New York town after swapping spots with the AHL’s Adirondack Flames. The Flames moved west to become the Stockton Heat – based in California, and the Thunder (formerly the Stockton Thunder) moved east to take up residence in Glens Falls at the Civic Center (known as the Cool Insuring Arena).

They became a Devils affiliate two seasons ago after serving the Calgary Flames prior.

According to Creamer, the logo features “the club’s logo within a circle, the team name surrounding it and their establishment year of 2015 below. This design is placed on a large silver, beveled “V” – the Roman Numeral for 5, which it itself [sic] is encased within a red triangular shield. A black banner showing the current “2019-2020” season jets out on either side behind the shield.”

Creamer said that the Thunder will only be wearing this logo as a patch “on the shoulder of their third uniform, it will not be featured on their home or road sweaters.” He also said that the team “plans on having merchandise available with the logo in time for the season.”

To view the logo and to read more, please head over to sportslogos.net.

Devils Re-Sign Carrick

The Devils brought back a late season acquisition today, re-signing defenseman Connor Carrick to a two-year contract with an average annual value (AAV) of $1,500,000 – it breaks down to $1,500,000 in 2019-20 and $1,500,000 in 2020-21.

The 25-year-old Carrick was acquired on February 23, 2019 from the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Ben Lovejoy and debuted February 25 against Montreal according to the press release put out by the Devils. He had two points that night (both assists) and “recorded his first goal as a Devil” on April 1 against the Rangers “notching the game-winner in a 4-2 victory.”

The native of Orland Park, Illinois, who was the Capitals’ “sixth selection, 137th overall, in the 2012 NHL Draft,” seems to be extremely excited to be a part of the Devils going forward.

On Instagram, he wrote a post saying he was “(h)onored to join the hungry and promising New Jersey Devils.” He acknowledged that the fan interest and support is at a high and he can understand why with the moves the Devils have made this offseason. He said that he is ready to go (or “oozing with the fire to start the season as soon as tonight” as he put it) and will try to bring his best to the team.

He also mentioned that whenever he signs a NHL contract, “the privilege to play in the best League in the world is not lost on me.”

Carrick, in 201 NHL games with Washington, Toronto, Dallas and the Devils, has 11 goals , 30 assists and 41 points to go with 135 penalty minutes.

Two Players Re-Sign With Devils

The Devils announced two re-signings of players to one-year, two-way contracts today via a press release.

Forward Brandon Baddock signed for $700,000 at the NHL level ($75,000 at the American Hockey League level). According to the press release put out by the team, Baddock, “(i)n his third professional season… set career highs in games played (67), goals (3), assists (7), points (10) and penalty minutes (154).” Those 154 penalty minutes led the AHL as well, according to the press release.

He was the Devils’ “sixth-round selection and 161st overall in the 2014 NHL Draft.” He has played the last two years with the Binghamton Devils of the AHL.

Defenseman Josh Jacobs signed for $700,000 at the NHL level and $85,000 at the AHL level. He played 69 games last year for Binghamton and had three goals, 10 assists for 13 points along with 42 penalty minutes. He did get some time with the big club, making his NHL debut on March 21, 2019 versus Boston at Prudential Center.

According to the press release, he was the Devils’ “second-round selection… 41st overall in the 2014 NHL Draft.”

Red Bests White in Development Camp Scrimmage

The Devils once again opened their doors to fans for Development Camp when they presented the Red and White Scrimmage earlier today. Team Red, featuring Jack Hughes, won the event, 3-2 in overtime.

There was a standing room only crowd on hand again at the RWJBarnabas Hockey House jammed in to see Hughes, Ty Smith, Jesper Boqvist and some of the other future stars of the Devils. And they did not disappoint.

I got there a little bit later, about ten minutes before warmups and could only find a spot to stand behind two other people along the half wall in the zone that Team Red attacked twice (the teams never switched ends). That gives you an idea of the sheer number of fans who came out to see this event.

The game consisted of two 25 minute “periods” with an intermission between them.

Team Red got a nice goal from Nikita Popugaev and a highlight reel-quality marker from Hughes while for Team White, Michael McLeod set up a nice second goal. When the game ended tied at two, it went to a five-minute, sudden death, three-on-three OT period. Here, Marian Studenic scored the game-winner for Team Red, giving them the 3-2 victory.

Following the contest, the teams competed in a shootout where every player on each team got to shoot on goalies Evan Cormier (Team Red) and Gilles Senn (Team White). Team White won the shootout 3-2. The players really got to show off their skills in this one, making some nice moves in what lived up to its billing as a “skills competition.”

Overall, the week of Development Camp activities were pretty successful. The events open to the public were very well done and handled well by the team. Much like in Nico Hischier’s Draft year, it was cool to see Jack Hughes before he really takes off as an NHL star.