The 2021-22 regular season is in the books for the Devils and we now head into a summer without playoff hockey for the fourth time in five years for New Jersey fans.
May will be giving us not only the first two rounds or so of the Stanley Cup Playoffs (sans the Devils, of course) but also the beginning of the AHL’s Calder Cup Playoffs (prominently featuring the Utica Comets) and the IIHF World Hockey Championship (which has been pushed to the end of the month due to the NHL schedule changes and Covid precautions).
We will begin with the World Championships and who will be taking part in the tournament as it pertains to the Devils.
Catherine Bogart reports that six players will be appearing for their countries in the annual spring-time tourney.
As already announced by the team, head equipment manager of the Devils, Chris Scoppetto will be serving in the same role for the United States at the World Championship.
Joining him on the Team USA roster will be goaltender Jon Gillies, making his first appearance at the tournament. He previously represented the United States at the IIHF World Junior Championship in 2013 and 2014.
Team USA will play in Group B in this year’s World Championship.
Switzerland will have Devils captain center Nico Hischier on their roster as well as defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler, who was injured with a broken hand back on April 7. Bogart said that he is recovering, however, and should be ready to go for the tournament.
Hischier has played in three World Championships, last playing in last year’s tournament. Siegenthaler also played for Switzerland in that same 2021 edition of the World Championship. He has three appearances overall at this tournament according to Bogart.
Switzerland will play in Group A.
One of the Swiss opponents in Group A will be Canada, who will have defenseman Damon Severson and rookie forward Dawson Mercer on their roster.
For Severson, this will be his second appearance in the tourney (he last played for Canada in the 2019 edition).
Mercer is obviously making his first appearance in the senior version of this tournament. He played for Canada at the World Juniors in 2020 and 2021.
Finally, the Devils will see one more player participating in Group A action. Tomas Tatar will be making an appearance for Slovakia.
Tatar has the most experience in this tournament of any of the Devils-related participants, as this will be his seventh World Championship.
He last played in one in 2019.
The 2022 IIHF Men’s World Championship will begin on May 13 and conclude on May 29 and will be played in Tampere and Helsinki, Finland.
Group A will play games at the Helsinki Ice Hall while Group B will play out of the Nokia Arena in Tampere.
The two days of opening games will see the USA play Latvia and Finland play Norway in Group B and Germany clash with Canada Group A all on Friday, May 13. On Saturday, May 14, Denmark will play Kazakhstan, Switzerland will take on Italy and Slovakia will play Germany in Group A while Sweden will face Austria, Czechia will play Great Britain and Latvia will clash with Finland in Group B in a full day of action.
The 2022 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs are another premier attraction going on in the hockey world currently.
They got underway on Monday, May 2 when the Bridgeport Islanders beat the Providence Bruins 2-1 in overtime in game one of their Atlantic Division First Round series played in Providence. Those first round series are best-of-three with Bridgeport taking a 1-0 series lead.
Game two of that series will take place in Bridgeport on Wednesday.
The other first round series will see the Bakersfield Condors play the Abbotsford Canucks in the Pacific Division (game one of that series is currently going on as I write this with no score). The other Pacific Division series will pit the Colorado Eagles versus the Henderson Silver Knights. That series begins Wednesday and the Ontario Reign against the San Diego Gulls, which will also kick off on Wednesday.
In the Central Division, the Rockford IceHogs will play the Texas Stars beginning on Wednesday.
The other Atlantic Division first round series will have the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins play the Hershey Bears starting on Friday, May 6.
The North Division play-in series will have the Belleville Senators against the Rochester Americans starting on Wednesday.
These will help set up the semifinal series with one of the Pacific Division Semifinals yet to be determined with six teams vying for a spot there. The other Pacific Division series will see one of the winners of the first round series against the Stockton Heat.
The Central Division Semifinals will see the Manitoba Moose begin their best-of-five series against the Milwaukee Admirals on Friday while the Chicago Wolves will participate in the other Pacific Division series.
The North Division Semifinals series has the Syracuse Crunch taking on the Laval Rocket starting on Friday and the Comets getting a bye into their semifinal series which will be set up by the first-round winner between Rochester and Belleville.
The Atlantic Division, by contrast, has the Springfield Falcons and the Charlotte Checkers already advancing to the semifinals, but in separate series with their opponents being rounded out by the first-round best-of-threes.
The American League playoffs can be a bit confusing without a flow chart readily available. For our purposes as a Devils blog, the focus is on the Rochester-Belleville series for now as the winner there will move on to the second round to play the Comets in the semifinals.
One other piece of business before we wrap up is that Czech Prospects is reporting via Twitter that Devils goaltending prospect Jakub Malek “has signed a two-year contract with Ilves of the Finnish Liiga.
We will try to keep you as up to date as possible with all of the goings on in the Devils offseason hockey participation leading up to the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery and the Draft itself (which will take place in Montreal on July 7 and 8, 2022).