Clarke, Mercer Invited to Team Canada Selection Camp

Today Amanda Stein, on the “Inside the Devils Blog,” reported that two Devils forward prospects have been named to Canada’s World Junior Selection Camp.

Graeme Clarke, taken in the third-round, 80th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft and Dawson Mercer, taken 18th overall in the first-round in this year’s Draft, will attend the National Junior Selection Camp in Red Deer, Alberta. The camp, Stein reports, runs from November 16 to December 13, 2020.

Clarke and Dawson were two of 42 players selected for the camp.

Stein mentions that Clarke’s season with the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League has yet to get off the ground due to COVID-19. The OHL has not started their season due to the pandemic.

Mercer, on the other hand, plays for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The QMJHL’s season has started and Mercer, in four games has four goals and two assists. With those six points, he is currently second in scoring on the Sags right now, enjoying a point-per-game pace.

One other thing to note is that Stein mentioned that 67’s coach Andre Tourigny is also the coach of the Team Canada, the defending champs at the World Juniors. Canada struck gold last year and will hope to do the same this year on home ice when the tournament begins on Christmas Day in Edmonton, Alberta.

In other Devils-related news, the “Devils Army Blog” noted on Twitter that prospect Yegor Sharangovich, loaned to Dinamo Minsk of the KHL, has 10 goals over the last 19 games with Minsk. This includes two goals against Dinamo Riga last week as Minsk beat Riga 3-0. Hopefully the former fifth-round pick can keep this pace up when he returns to North America in the coming months.

In coaching/scouting news, Devils Insiders report on Twitter that, “according to the team website, Peter Horachek has been re-assigned from AC to his prior role as a Pro Scout.” Horachek served last season as an assistant under Alain Nasreddine but will return to his role in the scouting department. It is good to see that the Devils did not fully cut ties with him.

Devils Insiders also note that Brian Strait will serve as a Pro Scout too. They said that “he did some scouting work for” the Devils last year while out with injuries playing for the Binghamton Devils of the AHL. It is possible that Strait quietly retired and will now work full-time as a scout for the organization. Otherwise, he is still out with injuries and will continue to serve in this role until he plays for Binghamton again.

Devils and David Conte Part Ways

According to a report on NHL.com and the Devils’ official website, the Devils have opted not to renew the contract of longtime scout David Conte.

Conte, who served as the Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations since 2006, had been with the team since 1984-85 when he joined the organization full-time as a scout and was Director of Scouting since 1993. Devils General Manager Ray Shero was quoted in the press release as saying: “David and I have had numerous discussions regarding his future. Based on our conversations, I believe it is in the best interests of our organization to pursue other opportunities and to not renew his contract.” The GM also thanked Conte for his 31 years of service to the team and that “the search for his successor will begin immediately.”

Conte, who the article on NHL.com mentions had a hand in drafting such great NHLers like Brendan Shanahan, Bill Guerin, Martin Brodeur, Scott Niedermayer, Brian Rolston, Sergei Brylin, Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta, also helped to sign undrafted players like John Madden and Brian Rafalski (as the article mentions by name) and others like Andy Greene.

The 66 year-old graduate of Colgate University had previously served as a scout with the Washington Capitals with GM Max McNab (who would go on to work for the Devils as well) after spending his post-collegiate playing career in Europe (he played in Finland, Italy and Spain). It was there that he made a number of connections that allowed him to succeed in his NHL scouting career. In fact, the Devils’ old media guides used to specifically note his expertise in evaluating U.S. college and European talent, although as his track record shows, he was equally adept at finding talent in any player no matter where they played.

It seems this has been said a lot during this offseason, but the parting with David Conte is yet another “end of an era” for the Devils organization. Conte was responsible for helping to build three Stanley Cup winning teams and a lot of the team’s success over the roughly twenty-five year period from 1988 to 2012 can be attributed to his drafting. But, the Devils have not been where they were used to being: in the playoffs and at the top of the standings. It is because of this that management felt a change needed to be made, and with a new GM comes a new team with him. Shero is going to want his guys surrounding him and that is OK. The end result in professional sports should be to win. If Ray Shero feels that they need a change in their outlook when it comes to scouting and that it will be in the best interests of the New Jersey Devils, then that is how it has to be.

I am sure that most Devils fans everywhere are very appreciative to David Conte for all that he has done for the franchise during his tenure here. He brought some of the all-time greats in Devils (and NHL) history into the league. I am also sure that most fans would wish him the best of luck in the next step in his illustrious career.