Over the last week or so, Devils management has whittled down the training camp roster to a regular season-level depth chart.
Back on September 23, the team sent seven players back to their junior clubs and seven to the AHL’s Albany Devils. Sent back to juniors were goalie Mackenzie Blackwood, defensemen Josh Jacobs, Ryan Rehill and Colton White, as well as forwards Brandon Baddock, Connor Chatham and Blake Speers. In addition to those players being sent back to finish their time in the Canadian Hockey League, forward Alexandre Goulet was released from his amateur try-out.
On that same day, the following players were assigned to Albany: goalie Yann Danis, defensemen Dan Kelly and Jacob Sweeney and forwards Graham Black, Chris McKelvie, Rod Pelley and Ben Thomson.
More cuts were made on September 27, sending fifteen players to the A-Devils. Among those players were goaltenders Ken Appleby and Scott Wedgewood, defensemen Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka, Vojtech Mozik, Reece Scarlett and forwards Joseph Blandisi, Blake Coleman, Ryan Kujawinski, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, Matt Lorito, Jim O’Brien, Blake Pietila, Mike Sislo and Paul Thompson.
In addition, John Quenneville was returned to the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League, his junior team.
That leaves New Jersey’s tentative opening night roster as follows: goaltenders Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid, defensemen Eric Gelinas, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Andy Greene, Seth Helgeson, Adam Larsson, Jon Merrill, John Moore, David Schlemko and Damon Severson and forwards Reid Boucher, Mike Cammalleri, Patrik Elias, Stephen Gionta, Adam Henrique, Jacob Josefson, Sergey Kalinin, Tyler Kennedy, Stefan Matteau, Kyle Palmieri, Tuomo Ruutu, Lee Stempniak, Jiri Tlusty, Jordin Tootoo, Pavel Zacha and Travis Zajac. This is where their depth chart stands and, though it is unlikely to strike too much fear in the hearts of teams like the Penguins and Capitals, it is a solid place to begin.
Most fans know that the Devils are in the midst of a rebuilding phase and will get better over the next few seasons. The depth chart as it stands is a nice mix of the younger players with some veteran leadership thrown in. And of course, if you are building from the goal crease out, you cannot get any more solid than the tandem of Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid. Kinkaid, in particular, has emerged as a good backup for Cory that can take some of the work load off of his shoulders should the need arise. Schneider is a workhorse, but he will need some time off here and there and Kinkaid is just the man to fill in when needed.
The Devils finish out the preseason with two against the Flyers on September 30 and October 2. They start the regular season on October 9 at home against the Winnipeg Jets.
Overall, while this team will likely not be setting any offensive NHL records right away, it is a good lineup to ice for the beginning of this season and, with some tweaks, who knows? Maybe the Devils can contend for a playoff spot this year. Only time will tell, because as the saying goes: that is why you play the game.