Devils Hold Red vs. White Scrimmage; Ink Hischier to ELC

It was a busy day today as the Devils’ 2017 Developmental Camp came to an end. First, they held a scrimmage between two teams of prospects. Then, 2017’s first overall draft pick, Nico Hischier – who put in a good showing in the scrimmage – was signed to his entry level contract.

First, the scrimmage. The event was held at the RWJ-Barnabas Health Hockey House and attracted a standing room only crowd. The prospects were split into two teams, one wearing the red home jerseys (designated the home team) and the other in the road whites.

The game got underway at 12 noon with a quick ten minute warmup. Just before the opening faceoff, Binghamton Devils head coach Rick Kowalsky made a short speech welcoming the fans and mentioning how important the players present were to the future of the Devils organization.

With that, the game began. The game was split into two 25-minute periods with a fifteen minute intermission in between where the ice was resurfaced. There was a running clock with faceoffs occurring when the puck was frozen or play was whistled dead. In the final five minutes of the game, the clock would stop on whistles and breaks in play. There would be penalty shots in lieu of serving penalties in the event of an infraction. Those were not necessary as the game was played predictably clean.

The starting goaltenders were Mackenzie Blackwood for the red team and Ken Appleby for the white team. Evan Cormier came in in the second for the reds while Gilles Senn began for the whites in the second frame.

John Qunneville and Brandon Gignac did not compete due to what the team is calling lower body issues. They were kept out for precautionary reasons. Brandon Baddock had to miss due to a family event, the roster sheet said.

Nico Hischier (who was on the red team) brought fans out of their seats early on what seemed to be a break in on goal that was whistled offside. In the end, though, it was the white team that came out victorious, 6-5 after a second period surge by the red team fell just short. Team red took the shots on goal with 24 to 16 in that department. Although Nico did finish the scrimmage with a goal and an assist.

Following the game, a shootout was held with each player from each team getting to showcase their skills one-on-one with the goalies. Forward Austin Cangelosi wowed the crowd when he picked the puck up with his stick, lacrosse-style, and tried to bat it into the net. He did not score, but the crowd loved it.

It was a great day for the Devils all around. An exciting scrimmage between some of their best prospects and then, afterwards, the signing of their prized number one pick in the draft.

In a press release put out by the Devils, they stated that general manager Ray Shero announced today that the team came to terms with Hischier on his maximum three-year entry level contract. The contract, valued at an annual average value of $925,000 as well as performance bonuses, brings Hischier into the Devils’ fold.

The press release also noted that during the second day of this year’s NHL Draft in Chicago’s United Center, he received the EJ McGuire Award of Excellence. This award “is given to the candidate who best exemplifies the committment to excellence through strength and character, competitiveness and athleticism.”

In addition, it was announced that Hischier will become just the second Devils player to wear number 13. The number became avaiable last month when Michael Cammalleri (the first Devil to wear the number previously banned under the Lou Lamoriello regime) had his contract bought out and signed with the Los Angeles Kings.

Devils Hold 3-on-3 Tourney at Development Camp

Earlier this morning, the Devils held a 3-on-3 mini tournament that was open to fans. I got to attend and I thought I would give some observations here.

Everything was pretty much run like a gameday, albeit one held at the RWJ-Barnabas Hockey House, the practice rink adjacent to the Prudential Center. Devils public address announcer Kevin Clark was in attendance and made his customary pregame announcements about pucks and objects leaving the playing surface.

The events proper started at 10 AM when the players hit the ice for some drills for about twenty minutes to a half an hour. This served as a warmup for the players. Just prior to the tournament starting, Clark announced Andy Greene, John Moore, Travis Zajac and Cory Schneider onto the ice and Greene and Schneider gave quick speeches about the future of the team and what the Development Camp players meant to it.

The players were then split into four teams. Each team was named for a Devils legend with his number retired, hence you had Team Stevens, Team Daneyko, Team Niedermayer and Team Brodeur. Number one overall draft pick Nico Hischier was on Team Niedermayer and wore number 33. Teams Brodeur and Niedermayer wore red (with Team Brodeur switching to white when they faced Team Niedermayer) and Teams Daneyko and Stevens wore white (with Team Stevens switching to red when they faced each other).

Team Brodeur featured Mackenzie Blackwood in goal, Michael Kapla, Nathan Bastian, Miles Wood, Jesper Boqvist, Fabian Zetterlund and Aarne Talvitie. Suiting up for Team Daneyko were goaltender Kenn Appleby, Pavel Zacha, Joshua Jacobs, Joey Anderson, Brandon Baddock, Colton White (who was given Jaromir Jagr’s number 68 for the camp), Robert Carpenter and Nicolas Guay. For Team Niedermayer was Evan Cormier in net, Hischier, Yaroslav Dyblenko, Ryan Kujawinski, Reilly Walsh, Marian Studenic, Colby Sissons and Blake Speers. And finally, representing Team Stevens were goalie Gilles Senn (who was listed on the roster sheet as being out for precautionary reasons – but he did play), Steven Santini, Mikey McLeod, Austin Cangelosi, Nikita Popugaev, Jesper Bratt, Jocktan Chainey and Jeremy Davies.

Forwards John Quenneville and Brandon Gignac did not participate due to injury (listed as lower body/precautionary). Goaltender Chris Bolejszo was originally listed as playing for Team Stevens, but as noted, Senn did play.

The games took place in the offensive zones with the goal cages parallel to the half walls. bumpers along the blueline kept the play within the zones. At my end of the rink (the side with the large American flag, if you are familiar with the rink), I saw Team Niedermayer defeat Team Stevens while Team Brodeur lost to Team Daneyko at the other end of the rink in game 1. Game 2 featured Team Stevens defeating Team Brodeur at the far end of the rink while Team Niedermayer lost to Team Daneyko at my end.

For game 3, Team Brodeur switched to white jerseys at the other side of the rink and lost to Niedermayer while Daneyko defeated Stevens (who did switch to red jerseys) at my side. That set up a final between Teams Daneyko and Nidermayer, played at my end while Team Brodeur took on Stevens in the consolation game at the far end of the rink.

In the end, it was Pavel Zacha and Team Daneyko who took home the trophy when they knocked off Team Niedermayer. Afterwards, Devils radio play-by-play man Matt Laughlin interviewed Zacha at center ice and presented him and his team a trophy. They took a team picture and that was all she wrote.

The event was sold out with a nice crowd for a Wednesday workday morning attending. The fans seemed to enjoy themselves and everyone had cameras out to take pictures of Hischier in his first official time on the ice as a Devil.

Next up, the Development Camp will present the Red versus White scrimmage on Saturday. I hope to be there and will post details here afterwards.