News as Devils Get Set to Resume on Thursday

Just thought I would type something up to get back in the swing of things as the Devils are back on Thursday after more than a week off from action.

Not a whole lot has been going on in the Devils’ camp – a lot of speculation from varying sources have been connecting the Devils to different deals to be made around the upcoming trade deadline, but nothing concrete yet, obviously.

What we do have is a goaltending roster change way back on February 17. Nico Daws was reassigned to the Utica Comets of the AHL while Akira Schmid was recalled to the Devils. This was reported by Amanda Stein of the Devils’ official website.

This move was made to get Daws some game time during the Devils’ break that will conclude on Thursday. Daws had been brought up to the Devils on February 4 according to Stein, making two appearances between the pipes. He started one game and relieved Jon Gillies in another.

Daws got a 4-2 win over the Rochester Americans on February 18 for Utica. Following that, Schmid was sent to Utica and got a 3-2 shootout victory over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on February 19.

This allowed the two goalies to stay fresh (albeit while traveling to Utica, for the Rochester game and Allentown, Pennsylvania, for the Phantoms game), but also sharp and get reps in.

Other than that news, the Devils are reporting through their app, that Jesper Bratt is healthy after recovering from an upper body injury.

He told Catherine Bogart that “I feel good. I was skating with the skills and skating coach, Ryan Murphy, for all the days when I was (away from) the team and it’s been good. He prepared me the best way to come back in the best shape possible with the team. Today was another good skate, yesterday was a great skate so I feel ready to go.”

He added more, telling Bogart in regards to his injury itself, “In the beginning when it happens you don’t really know how bad it’s going to be but after seeing the doctors and talking to the staff, it didn’t feel like I was going to miss too many games. After the first, second day, I started feeling a little better. I saw the progress every day. We were pretty lucky with the schedule.”

Dougie Hamilton will also be back when the Devils return on Thursday in Pittsburgh against the Penguins. He fractured his jaw on January 2 against the Washington Capitals and required surgery. Bogart reports that he has been cleared to play and will return to the lineup.

Head coach Lindy Ruff told Bogart: “I’m looking forward to him being back in the lineup. I’m counting on him being in. I’ve had a conversation with him, he said he’s ready to go and we’re ready to put him back.”

Hamilton himself said: “It’s always really hard to watch. You want to be out there through the good and the bad and going through everything with your teammates. So it’s hard to be on the outside looking in. Just for me, I’m excited to get back and playing.”

Bogart mentioned that Hamilton needed to work on getting the correct equipment to protect his injured jaw. The shield he would be using needed to both protect his jaw and be comfortable for him.

He continued to Bogart: “It’s changed because of the healing of my jaw. At the start I couldn’t have any pressure on it so I had to find something that had the pressure off it, but I couldn’t play with that mask. I think it’s at the point now where my jaw is solid and I’m able to put a pad on my chin and use that mask. I think there’s three, four different masks, and then just tweaking them and trying different things with those and different pads. I’m very thankful for the equipment trainers for working with me and helping me.”

And now that Hamilton will be wearing the full shield in-game, Ruff wants to give him a chance to succeed his best with it.

That is why Bogart says, he will be likely paired with Jonas Siegenthaler on the backend when Hamilton is back.

Ruff told Bogart: “Siegenthaler has been one of our top defenders on the left side, (this decision is) probably to give him some help at the same time, give him a real solid guy, that’s been a guy we’ve counted on in every situation. Trying to supply a little support. Hamilton’s wearing a full shield and we don’t know how he’s going to be. So part of that is probably putting him in the best place where he thinks he can succeed.”

Hamilton told Bogart about knowing when he was ready to return. Hamilton told her that he and his doctors had been in contact to decide when the timing was right.

He told her: “Talking to the doctors and surgeon and everything it’s my proper healing time. I don’t know if I’ll feel normal for awhile but there’s still some things that could take weeks, months, but I think it’s at the point now where it’s safe to play .. now that I got that green light it’s nice to have that and I’m ready to start playing again.”

The Devils will return to play with a (mostly) healthy roster on Thursday at 7 PM in Pittsburgh against the Penguins.

Notes on Devils Health and Injury Statuses

Here is a roundup of Devils health and injury news from Devils sources.

On an “Inside the Devils Blog” post for the team regarding Tuesday’s practice for available players at RWJBarnabas Health Hockey House, reporter Sam Kasan referenced a tweet by the Devils on their official Twitter account that said that goaltender Akira Schmid “and one member of the team’s locker room support staff in the NHL’s Covid-19 protocols.”

The same tweet said that the Devils are “awaiting test results on” goalie Mackenzie Blackwood.

Kasan clarified that Blackwood was kept out of practice while awaiting the results. Kasan also noted that Pavel Zacha, Yegor Sharangovich and Andreas Johnsson were all out of protocol and were on the ice for the practice today.

Kasan also reported that forward Miles Wood was skating “on his own and will begin on-ice rehab next week” after his hip injury. He had surgery for the injury on November 8.

Kasan did temper that news with word from head coach Lindy Ruff saying that Wood returning “to the lineup is still ‘months aways.’”

Ruff continued that Wood was “[m]entally very excited. I think any player wants to put his skates back on and get back out there after … it’s been around two months since he’s had his surgery. It’s the first step in the right direction. He’ll skate on his own. Hopefully, next week he’ll start the next step of that process and he’ll start skating more.”

Ruff continued “[h]e’s in a situation where he’s still months away for us.”

Kasan finished his blog post by mentioning that Wood ended last season “tied for the team lead in goals (17) for New Jersey” and that Wood “hasn’t appeared in a game for the Devils during the current season” due to his surgery.

As of this moment, the Devils are next scheduled to play the New York Islanders at UBS Arena in Elmont, New York on Thursday, January 13 at 7:30 PM.