It's that time of the year again. The month of July's New Jersey Devil Development Camp is upon us. For those of you unfamiliar, this camp gets many of the team's organization prospects from Albany, CHL and the NCAA together for a week of practices, drills and scrimmages.
There will be some notable players who don't attend, primarily Mattias Tedenby and Alexander Urbom, that are not attending due to the long season Albany had (they stuck around Albany/Newark as the Devils made their way through the Stanley Cup playoffs as injury insurance) and management didn't think it was necessary for them to return from Sweden for the camp.
Other prospects not attending include Curtis Gedig (Ohio State), 2012 6th round pick Artur Gavrus, Blake Pietila (Michigan Tech) and goaltender Jeff Frazee.
The camp will also have some undrafted players, most of them local products, invited to participate. Most of those players are committed to universities next year so it's highly unlikely that the camp will be a spring board to an immediate entry-level-contract.
The full roster is located at Tom Gulitti's Fire and Ice Blog here. The roster includes 4 goalies, 11 defensemen and 21 forwards.
In its history the camp has not been opened to the public (although many other teams do allow fans to attend) so for fans hoping to go to the Prudential Center to get a glimpse at some future Devils, don't hold your breath.
Since the camp includes players recently drafted or at Albany we will use today's post to quickly focus on the undrafted invitees and also touch upon Jon Merrill's status.
Undrafted and unsigned invitees include Northeastern University goaltender Chris Rawlings, University of New Hampshire forward Kevin Goumas, Princeton forwards Jack Berger and Mike Ambrosia (formerly of Delbarton), Yale defenseman Matt Killian (formerly of Delbarton), Vernon (BCHL) left wing Peter McMullen (grandson of former Devils' owner John McMullen), Everett (WHL) right wing J.T. Barnett, Robert Morris University-bound forward David Friedmann and University of Connecticut left wing Marcello Ranallo.
Below I have compiled their stats from last year and for the skaters listed the team they are likely to play for in 2012-13. For Chris Rawlings note that he will be back at Northeastern. Also note that the Marcello Ranallo has exhausted his eligibility at UConn and is now a free agent.
So who are these guys?
The Delbarton Players:
The Devils kept the majority of their invites to local players with three of the invites former Delbarton High School players.
Peter McMullen-Grandson of the late Devil owner John McMullen, McMullen was slated to play in the USHL last year but opted for the BCHL instead. He will attend Boston College in the fall. Back in 2011 at ILWT we wrote a prospect profile on McMullen. You can find that here.
Matt Killian-The Yale defenseman was rated very highly going into the 2011 NHL draft but was passed over. The 6'2" 200 pound defenseman will return to Yale this fall for his sophomore season. In 2011 we also did a profile on Killian here at ILWT. You can find that here.
Mike Ambrosia-The final Delbarton alum in camp, Ambrosia just finished his USHL career where he captained the Youngstown Phantoms and scored 65 points in 60 games. Ambrosia heads to Princeton after averaging almost .80 points per game at the USHL level.
Other College Players:
Kevin Goumas-Goumas came through Indiana of the USHL and just completed his second season with New Hampshire. He was New Hampshire's third leading scorer with 34 points,(the players ahead of him both had 35) and 100 shots on goal. Goumas is 5'10"/160 pounds and will be 21 in the fall.
Jack Berger-Berger is a Princeton Tiger, and just completed his sophomore year. Berger's always been at roughly half a point per game whether it was in the USHL with Des Moines or with the Tigers in the NCAA. Where he seemed to do damage last year was on the power play, where he scored 4 of his 10 goals. He was second in scoring last year for the Tigers and raised his point total by 13 points from his freshman year. He will be the team captain heading into his junior year.
David Friedmann-Friedmann, who attended the LA Kings development camp last year, is attending Robert Morris in the fall. Despite being drafted in the OHL draft a few years ago, Friedmann stuck with playing at the OJHL level (a Tier ‘A' league that still allows players to retain college eligibility) and averaged 1.24 points per game there.
Marcello Ranallo-The 25 year old Ranallo just completed his college career with the University of Connecticut. He is likely fighting for an AHL contract or at least an invite for Albany's camp in the fall.
Barnett attended camp last year and considering he hasn't shown that much on the stat sheet in his four years in the WHL, he must have done something to impress the Devil coaching staff as he is the only invitee traveling a pretty far distance (British Columbia) to attend camp. Based on two years at development camps, expect him to be signed by Albany to an AHL contract and to likely begin to the season in the ECHL.
The Camp Mystery: Jon Merrill
Merrill returns for his
third second development camp and per Tom Gulitti it seems he will make a decision on whether to return to Michigan or become a professional at the end of the camp. In my view, since he hadn't made the decision yet I am doubtful that this week of camp will sway him one way or another. That said, one interesting item that might sway his early departure from the Wolverines might be the looming CBA negotiations and how a new CBA might affect entry-level-contracts. If he and his advisors think that any big changes would affect Merrill badly they could conclude that it is best to become a professional now. Labor issues (strike or lockout) wouldn't really affect his development as he would likely spend the year in Albany anyway.
Again, I don't necessarily think he will leave Michigan now, but CBA related thinking could change that.
So what do you think the chances of Merrill leaving Michigan to sign his first pro contract with the Devils are? Any thoughts on the camp invitees? Which prospect are you most excited about in the system right now? Thanks for reading and sound off below.