Interesting Notes on Blandisi and Zacha at Developmental Camp

The Devils have been holding their developmental camp this past week, but two big names are not skating or participating in on-ice drills.

According to Mike G. Morreale of on the Devils’ website, Joseph Blandisi and Pavel Zacha have been sitting this one out due to injuries and a weird extra situation for Blandisi.

Zacha, according to Morreale, suffered a hip pointer “late last season” (most likely during the AHL playoffs with Albany) and has not skated in any drills at Barnabas Health Hockey House at Prudential Center.

Blandisi’s situation is a little bit different. According to Morreale, he has a swollen ankle. But, says Blandisi, “I feel good, nothing hurts.” “I just need some new skates” he clarified. “My feet just don’t fit into the skates right now. I need to get new skates, but the factory that makes the skates is closed this week.”

He told Morreale that his “feet became swollen over the course of last year, just some buildup in there, after a long season.”

Devils head coach John Hynes told Morreale that “Zacha won’t skate, but it’s just precautionary.” He also said that “(T)here’s no need to push it. (Zacha) is here, he’s working out and doing his thing with the team. That’s a huge part of the camp. Ice is important but not the primary importance of the camp.”

Morreale said that both will be ready to go once training camp opens. As Blandisi put it: “I should be 100 percent for training camp… so long as the skates are ready.”

Devils preseason training camp opens in September.

Devils Head into Development Camp with Signings, New Look

In the heat of the summer, Devils fans already looking towards hockey season can get their fix with some news bits surrounding the team’s annual development camp, which has already started at the AmeriHealth Pavilion practice rink at the Prudential Center.

Among that news is that the Devils have come to terms with defenseman Eric Gelinas on a new contract. The new deal, at an annual value of $1,575,000 over two years according to General Manager Ray Shero on the Devils website, gives the Devils continued depth on the blueline. According to the Devils’ website, Gelinas led the team’s defense in scoring last year when he notched six goals. He had a total of 19 points (good for fourth amongst the defense corps). He played in 61 games last year (a career high for the 24 year-old, taken 54th overall in the 2009 Draft by New Jersey). Last year, he was second among defensemen on the team with nine points on the power play (ranked fifth on the team). His rookie year of 2013-14, he finished tied for third in the NHL among rookie defensemen with 29 points in 60 games played. Gelinas has 13 goals, 35 assists for 48 points and 64 penalty minutes in 122 career games played overall.

Another signing comes from a player who has yet to play a game in the NHL, but does come from a good pedigree. John Quenneville, the Devils’ first pick, 30th overall in the 2014 Entry Draft has signed a three-year entry level contract according to GM Shero. The 19 year-old comes in from the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings, where he played in 165 regular season games and had 50 goals, 74 assists and 124 points over his career to go with 148 penalty minutes. In the playoffs, he had 15 goals, 17 assists and 32 points to go with 28 penalty minutes in 28 games total. The 19 year-old native of Edmonton also represented Canada at the 2014 Under-18 World Championships (where they won a bronze medal) and Team Pacific at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge (they won silver). He won gold with Team Alberta at the 2011 Western Canada Under-16 Challenge Cup. All of this comes from the Devils press release on their website.

After a successful junior career with Brandon, Quenneville comes to Jersey with a highly touted background. He is, of course, a cousin of the Chicago Blackhawks’ two-time Stanley Cup champion coach, Joel Quenneville (who himself is a former Devils player). He also helped lead Brandon to the WHL Finals and was named the WHL Player of the Week for the period ending April 26, according to his bio on the Devils’ site. He posted a regular season high goal and three assists for four points in a game on October 24 against the Kamloops Blazers last year.

Among some of the notables who are in attendance at the development camp include goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, the team’s second round draft pick this year; forward Joseph Blandisi, Blackwood’s talented teammate on the OHL’s Barrie Colts; forward Reid Boucher, who has seen some time with the NHL club over the last few seasons; goaltender Anthony Brodeur, son of the great Martin Brodeur who comes to the team from the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs; forward Blake Coleman, standout at Miami of Ohio; forward Matt Gaudreau, New Jersey native and brother of Calgary Flames rookie sensation Johnny; Russian all-star Sergey Kalinin (forward); Michigan Tech forward Blake Pietila; defenseman Steven Santini from Boston College; and Damon Severson, a defenseman who has also had time with NHL Devils.

The Devils are looking to get younger throughout the lineup and the development camp is the first step to see who will be able to crack the lineup with the big club and where they will end up come October.