Devils’ Final Roster Announced

The roster for the opening of the 2019-20 season has been announced.

To get down to the NHL-required 23-man roster, the Devils put Matt Tennyson on waivers and, after he cleared, sent him to Binghamton of the American Hockey League. In addition, Ty Smith was sent back to the Spokane Chiefs, his junior team. Smith had a kind of disappointing camp this year after tearing it up last year and almost making the team in 2018-19.

Some of the thought on Smith was that he was more nervous this year, being expected to make the team, than last year when he was kind of playing with house money. That led to some mistakes brought on by his own doing. Hopefully next year he relaxes and makes the team out of camp.

It takes defenseman a longer time to develop at the NHL level and hopefully he just settles in and has a good year in the Western Hockey League and refocuses on making the Devils next season.

As for the roster itself, the goalies are Mackenzie Blackwood and Cory Schneider (who had a great preseason and looks to be back to his old self). The d-men are: Will Butcher, Connor Carrick, Andy Greene, Mirco Mueller, Damon Severson, PK Subban and Sami Vatanen. The forwards include: Jesper Boqvist (meaning he will not be sent back to Sweden and the SHL for the year), Jesper Bratt, Blake Coleman, Nikita Gusev, Taylor Hall, John Hayden, Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, Kyle Palmieri, Kevin Rooney, Wayne Simmonds, Miles Wood, Pavel Zacha and Travis Zajac.

No real surprises there aside from maybe Rooney. This is the roster that the Devils will take into the season opener against the Winnipeg Jets on October 4 at Prudential Center.

In other news, former Devil Lee Stempniak has announced his retirement after 13 seasons in the NHL. He played in 911 games over those 13 seasons, 63 of them for the Devils after signing as a free agent prior to the 2015-16 season.

The now-36-year-old right wing scored 16 of his total 203 goals with the Devils, and also recorded 25 assists with New Jersey for 41 points. His career total sees him with 469 NHL points.

He was the ultimate journeyman, playing for the Blues (who drafted him 148th overall in the fifth round of the 2003 Draft), Maple Leafs, Phoenix Coyotes, Flames, Penguins, Rangers, Jets, Bruins and Hurricanes in addition to the Devils.

The Devils dealt him at the 2016 trade deadline to the Bruins, where he netted them a fourth round pick in 2016 (Evan Cormier) and a second round pick in 2017 (the pick that I believe was Jesper Boqvist, if I’m reading right).

So congratulations to Lee Stempniak on a wonderful career and good luck to him in his post hockey doings.

We will see you here again on Friday for Devils-Jets to open the season!

Dealing with the Devils: New Jersey Makes Moves at Deadline

Ahead of the 3 PM NHL trading deadline, the Devils unloaded some young players who have not lived up to their potential so far and one oft-traded veteran who can make his new team stronger and net the Devils some draft picks and a solid fourth liner.

First the Devils sent defenseman Eric Gelinas to the Colorado Avalanche for a third round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Gelinas is a big d-man with a hard shot from the point who has been in and out of the lineup for the Devils this season. The pick the Devils obtained could be used in a future package or they could hold on to it and see what they can convert it into.

The Avs receive a big body, as mentioned, but a player who can be a little bit spotty defensively. The Devils have seen it first-hand that Gelinas can make some mistakes that can cost. But overall, he is a good point man to have on your power play and can play physically when needed.

New Jersey also sent Lee Stempniak (who has been traded at the deadline four of the last six years) to the Boston Bruins for a fourth round pick in 2016 and a second round pick in 2017. Stempniak has seen a resurgence to his career this season. The Devils were able to parlay a player signed on a professional tryout into two really good draft positions.

What Boston gets is a guy who had been producing for the Devils, he was the Devils’ leading scorer in the absence of Michael Cammalleri. He can be a good piece for a Bruins team that feels it is a contender going into the playoffs. The Devils, again, get draft picks to stockpile and play with.

The third deal made by general manager Ray Shero was sending forward Stefan Matteau to the Montreal Canadiens for Devante Smith-Pelly. Matteau was another young player who, like Gelinas, could benefit from a change of scenery. Matteau, it could be argued, was never given much of a chance to crack the lineup in New Jersey. However, in the chances he was given, he did not produce. He was rushed into the lineup a few years ago when he was eighteen, but not consistently used following that.

The Devils get Devante Smith-Pelly in return. Smith-Pelly is a good fourth liner who can score. He is a restricted free agent at the end of the year, but the Devils get a solid player for one who is seen as an underachiever so far.

It is possible for Matteau to flourish in Montreal. Sometimes a change of view is all that it takes for a younger player. Smith-Pelly helps the Devils firm up their fourth line and could be a good acquisition for Shero.

One other move the Devils made was claiming defenseman David Warsofsky off of waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 25-year-old has played in 12 games with Pittsburgh and 17 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season. He has a goal with the NHL club and two goals and four assists in the AHL.

He is another “Pittsburgh connection” pickup for Shero and coach John Hynes. Hynes actually coached Warsofsky in 2007-08 with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program under-18 team.

Overall, this is was a relatively successful day of trades for the Devils. Remember, last year they flipped Jaromir Jagr to Florida for a draft pick that essentially became Kyle Palmieri, so a lot can be done when teams acquire a good amount of picks. While it is always a little bittersweet to see players go (Stempniak, you really have to feel for as he seemed to have finally found a home here in Jersey), the return is what is important and with the picks and Devante Smith-Pelly, they have seemingly gotten some good things in return.