Devils Bring Bastian Back Via Waivers

New Jersey Devils fans have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. Everything from the team’s record as we hit the about-25-percent mark of the NHL season (especially considering the injuries the team has had) to the young guys like Dawson Mercer really hitting their stride.

But today, the Devils added another item to the list.

The Seattle Kraken placed forward Nathan Bastian on waivers this afternoon and he was claimed by the Devils. The Devils bring him back into the fold and he will join the team in Nashville, available to play against the Predators on Friday.

This fulfills a wish that many fans have had since July.

Bastian was selected by New Jersey 41st overall in the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft. He was exposed during the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft and selected by the Kraken as their pick from the Devils’ roster.

As Sam Kasan wrote on the “Inside the Devils Blog,” this move will reunite the fourth line from last season (when Miles Wood returns from injury) on which Bastian had three goals and seven assists for ten points in his NHL rookie season where he played in 41 games.

The line was nicknamed the “BMW Line” informally as it consisted of Bastian, Wood and Michael McLeod. It was, according to Kasan, “often used in defensive situations or in an attempt to change a game’s momentum. Bastian was also a key contributor to the Devils’ penalty-killing unit.”

Bastian will also be reunited with his “Super Buddy” McLeod. The two have been playing together since their days growing up in Mississauga, Ontario and were teammates with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL before being drafted together to New Jersey.

Bastian, according to Kasan, has a total of seven goals and eight assists for 15 points over 60 NHL games in his career. Kasan notes that Bastian “made his NHL debut with the Devils” on January 19, 2019 against the Anaheim Ducks.

This season, while with Seattle, he had a goal and an assist for two point and 31 penalty minutes over 12 games – including the loss at New Jersey earlier this October.

Kasan also reported that the Devils have placed Jesper Boqvist on the Injured Reserve retroactively to November 18 with an upper body injury.

In some other news, today was, of course, Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. With that came the Thanksgiving morning tradition of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from New York City.

This morning featured something that was mentioned on the Devils broadcast on Wednesday that I completely neglected in my game recap last night.

The NHL had a float in the parade sponsored by MassMutual that celebrated diversity in the game of hockey and was a tribute to NHL pioneer Willie O’Ree – who became the first Black player in the history of the league when he suited up for the Bruins on January 18, 1958.

O’Ree is set to have his number 22 jersey retired by the Bruins on January 18, 2022 at the TD Garden prior to a game versus the Carolina Hurricanes.

Participating and riding on the float was none other than former Devils defenseman and captain and current MSG+ Devils analyst, Bryce Salvador.

He appeared with Anson Carter (NHL on TNT analyst and former NHL player) and Kevin Hodgson and Rico Phillips (winners of the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award).

Both Carter and Salvador got mentions in the opening to the NBC broadcast of the parade.

Phillips, who according to William Douglas, a writer for NHL.com, is a retired firefighter. He won the O’Ree Award in 2019 for his founding of the Flint (Michigan) Inner-City Youth Hockey Program.

Hodgson is the executive director of HEROS which stands for Hockey Education Reaching Out Society) “which” Douglas says, “empowers at-risk youth in cities across Canada.”

Salvador was modeling the Devils’ new third jersey. It was complete with his captain’s “C” on the right side instead of the left, as the “Jersey” wordmark will come up too far on the left side, necessitating a move to the right for the letter. He joked on Wednesday’s MSG+ broadcast that he would be the first person seen wearing the jersey on television.

They were also joined by country musician Mickey Guyton – “who was the first Black female solo artist to earn a Grammy nomination in the country music category” according to Douglas.

The float traveled a two-and-a-half-mile route through Manhattan according to Douglas and had Guyton performing along the way.

It was officially themed “Winning Winter Together” and Douglas mentioned that it “featured a giant snowman goalie towering over a community pond made of skateable synthetic ice.”

Prior to the parade, Carter (who is also the co-chair of the NHL’s Player Inclusion Committee), Salvador, Phillips and Hodgson (who Douglas notes won the O’Ree Award in 2021), hosted a hockey “clinic for 50 members of Ice Hockey in Harlem and Hockey in New Jersey, Hockey Is For Everyone affiliates, at the Sharpe James/Kenneth A. Gibson Recreation & Aquatic Center in Newark on Saturday.”

Douglas said that the league “is donated $5,000 to each organization [Ice Hockey in Harlem and Hockey in New Jersey] on behalf of MassMutual to help them manage operational challenges due to COVID-19. MassMutual is matching the donation.”

We will see you right here tomorrow for coverage of the Devils game at Nashville at 6 PM. Again, a reminder that that game will be streamed on ESPN+.

Grier, Salvador Coaching in Prestigious Tournament

Devils Assistant Coach Mike Grier and Devils/MSG+ TV analyst Bryce Salvador will be taking a team made up of minority players to a prestigious tournament according to William Douglas on NHL.com.

Grier and Salvador, both former NHL players – with Salvador serving as Devils captain (the third black player to serve as an NHL captain in league history) from 2013 until his retirement – will be coaching “the NextGen AAA Foundation’s team at the invitation-only Beantown Summer Classic in Exeter, New Hampshire from Aug. 8-11” according to Douglas in his “Color of Hockey” article on August 4.

The team, which is a part of the NextGen Foundation, a nonprofit “that provides mentoring, education and hockey programs to underprivileged youth and underserved communities. It was founded in 2017 by philanthropist Dee Dee Ricks, who has provided more than $1 million to help Black and brown student-athletes at some of the nation’s leading preparatory schools, colleges and travel hockey programs throughout North America.”

The team was “recruited by Rod Braceful, the assistant director of player personnel for USA Hockey’s National Development Team” according to Douglas.

The team will feature some great talent, as forward Reggie Millette will be attending American International College in 2021-22, defenseman Christian Jimenez will suit up for Harvard in the same season and forward Ross Mitton will play at Colgate this upcoming season.

Grier said: “I’m extremely happy and grateful to work with this group of talented players. The game of hockey continues to increase the number of diverse players with the talent and skill to compete in college, in the minors, and the NHL, and supporting organizations like NextGen, who develop those pathways, is vital.”

The NextGen AAA Foundation team competing in the Beantown Summer Classic comes on the heels of Matt Dumba of the Minnesota Wild making a great appeal to the entire sport of hockey in an effort to end racism in the opening to the Stanley Cup Qualifying round in Edmonton on Saturday. Dumba’s speech has been widely applauded and his message of inclusion in the sport is something that has to be listened to if we are to move forward. It was a great message and shows that the face of hockey is not one color or gender, but rather a mix of many different faces.

NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives and Legislative Affairs, Kim Davis told Douglas: “NextGen is carving out a pipeline of diverse, elite-level hockey talent. We believe that in the near future, more teams across the continent will feature more players of color, and this NextGen team is a strong signal that we are moving closer to that day.”

The Beantown Summer Classic takes place in Exeter, New Hampshire from August 8 to 11, 2020 and will be sponsored by the NHL and Pure Hockey.

In other (power outage-backed up) news, the Devils have initiated a program to benefit Newark Working Kitchens.

The team, in partnership with Prudential Center and sponsors Investors Bank and RWJBarnabas Health, have announced Donate a Plate. This is “a virtual fundraiser benefitting Newark Working Kitchens.” This will enlist “local restaurants to deliver nutritious meals to vulnerable populations across Newark, including low-income seniors and families, the homeless, and others.”

Investors Bank and RWJBarnabas Health are kicking things off by donating 500 meals each to the initiative. The Devils and “their Premium Seating Partners” have matched that with 1,000 meals. All totaled, that comes to 2,000 meals for those in need.

The press release put out by the Devils says that “fans have a chance to participate in the giving by creating their own donation pages to share with family and friends. At the conclusion of the month-long fundraiser, the top three donors will receive a future Devils Premium Seating Experience at Prudential Center.”

Jillian Frechette, Senior Vice President, Marketing, New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center said: “We are grateful to Investors Bank and RWJBarnabas Health for joining us in our mission to support Newark residents and the local restaurants which continue to provide meals during this time. On and off the ice, Newark is our home and our commitment to the community continues to be of the utmost importance. The goal of this virtual fundraiser is to motivate others to support those who are in need because together, with our community, we are one.”

Investors Bank Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing and Product Officer, Dorian Hansen said “We are thrilled to kick off the Donate a Plate virtual fundraiser alongside the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center. Newark Working Kitchens is making an impact in a city that has been disproportionately hit by COVID-19 and we are proud to support them in their mission. This initiative is a meaningful way that fans can support those who are in need during this time.”

Barry H. Ostrowsky, the President and Chief Executive Officer of RWJBarnabas Health said “Our partnership with the New Jersey Devils is predicated on promoting the importance of healthy and active living, and proper nutrition is such a critical component. During this pandemic, the more vulnerable communities need our support more than ever, and I’m thrilled that through this program we have an opportunity to provide nutritious meals to those in need.”

The Devils had previously donated $200,000 to Newark Working Kitchens through their Devils Care Foundation.

If you would like to participate, the website to visit is: NewJerseyDevils.com/donateaplate.