The Devils have gotten a jump on next season by signing two of their picks from past drafts as we hurtle towards the 2015 Entry Draft. New Jersey signed forwards Ryan Kujawinski (of the OHL North Bay Battalion) and Blake Pietila of Michigan Tech of the WCHA. According to the press release on the Devils’ official site, the announcement was made by GM Ray Shero and (as per team policy) no terms of the contract were disclosed.
Kujawinski was drafted 73rd overall in the third round in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He split this past season with the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs and the Battalion. The 6 foot 2 inch 200 pound forward played 27 games with Kingston before being dealt January 5 to North Bay. He had 13 goals and 10 assists for the Frontenacs and 21 goals and 15 assists for North Bay in 34 games with the Battalion. He had 59 points overall this season. In the OHL playoffs, he notched six goals and three assists for nine points. He had two overtime game winners in the playoffs, which led the league. All of that came over 15 playoff games. The 20 year-old Kirkland Lake, Ontario native played four seasons overall in the OHL (with the Sarnia Sting in addition to Kingston and North Bay) and had 90 goals and 94 assists (184 points) in 231 games played. He also totaled 126 penalty minutes over his career. In the playoffs, he played a total of 26 games scoring nine goals and four assists (13 points) with 15 penalty minutes. The press release also mentions he played in the 2013 CHL Top Prospects Game.
Pietila, a 22 year-old native of Milford, Michigan, played four years at Michigan Tech where he played 153 games for the Huskies and had 46 goals and 60 assists (106 points) and 230 penalty minutes. His senior year, he had career highs in goals and points (14 and 30, respectively). He also led the team with 56 penalty minutes. He was named to the All-WCHA Third Team his senior year, served as co-captain of the team his junior and senior years and spent three seasons on the WCHA’s All-Academic Team (sophomore to senior years). He competed at the 2013 World Junior Championships with Team USA where he won a gold medal and had two assists in seven games played. His two seasons before entering college were played with the United States Development Program. The 6 foot, 195 pounder was the Devils’ 129th overall selection in the fifth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Today’s other notable news is that May 27th (the date of today’s post) is the Devils’ 33rd anniversary. It was on this day way back in 1982 that Montclair, New Jersey native Dr. John McMullen officially purchased the NHL’s Colorado Rockies and announced his intentions to move the team east to the Brendan Byrne Arena in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Much has changed since: Dr. McMullen has passed on, the Devils no longer play at the Meadowlands Arena (in fact the arena was shuttered just recently), the team has had its ups and downs, including three Stanley Cup championships and five Eastern Conference championships. Through it all, however, the Devils have given their fans some great moments and the look to the future with the signing of two of their prospects can hopefully help to get them back to the elite of the National Hockey League.