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+.