Tonight, the New Jersey Devils will play their first preseason home game to kick off the final week of the preseason. However, this weekend has been filled with roster moves as the Devils prepare for the regular season. On Saturday, the team assigned 19 players to their AHL affiliate in Albany. Here's the list from the team's official website:
Assigned to Albany were: goaltender Maxime Clermont; defensemen Brandon Burlon, Joe Faust, Raman Hrabarenka, Dan Kelly and Reece Scarlett; and forwards Myles Bell, Graham Black, Ben Johnson, Chris McKelvie, Rod Pelley, Tim Sestito, Mike Sislo, Ben Thomson, Paul Thompson, Scott Timmins, David Wohlberg, Darcy Zajac and Kelly Zajac.
There aren't any real surprises from this group being sent down. None of these players were really pushing for a NHL spot to begin with. The only ones with more than a handful of NHL games under their belt were Rod Pelley, Tim Sestito, and Mike Sislo. I don't think anyone was clamoring to see them stay in the NHL.
This afternoon, the team announced five more cuts. From the team PR's official Twitter account:
#NJDevils assign G Scott Wedgewood; D Renat Mamashev, Corbin McPherson; and F Joe Whitney to Albany (AHL). NJ releases D Mike Komisarek.— NHLDevilsPR (@NHLDevilsPR) September 28, 2014
This news is more interesting as it involves two of the tryouts. Renat Mamshev was brought in on a tryout but didn't appear in one preseason game. The KHL veteran going down to Albany raises my eyebrow, though. I would have thought he would just want to go back to Europe; I suppose he's serious about wanting to see how far he gets in North America. Mike Komisarek did play in two preseason games. He was terrible in the first one. He wasn't as putrid in the second one, but by no means could one say he was good. I didn't think Komisarek's chances were all that good to even sniff the Devils' roster. He played his way out of it as they just released him right away. Good luck to him and his future endeavors.
This brings the Devils down from 39 players to 34. There are three goalies left: Cory Schneider, Scott Clemmensen, and Keith Kinkaid. The decision is between Kinkaid and Clemmensen, as it was ahead of this year's camp. There are ten defensemen, which include tryout Tomas Kaberle, Seth Helgeson, and Damon Severson. As I expect the Devils to keep seven (everyone waiver-eligible plus Jon Merrill), I would think Helgeson and Severson are going to Albany and Kaberle may be released. There's still a log jam at forward with 21 players left. All three tryouts - Scott Gomez, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Jordin Tootoo - remain. As do potential AHL-bound players Stefan Matteau, Reid Boucher, and Cam Janssen. There's still the matter of Ryan Carter's lack of contract and where one sticks a few players (e.g. Jacob Josefson). According to this Fire & Ice post by Tom Gulitti earlier today, Peter DeBoer wants to use a lineup similar to a full roster for the last preseason games as a warmup. As Tootoo, Gomez, Matteau, Severson, Helgeson, and Matteau are in tonight's lineup with Clemmensen as the starter; this will likely be their last chance to make a case to stay on the roster. We'll see whether it's good enough on the ice. That Kaberle and Fedotenko are inactive for tonight suggests their time in New Jersey is just about up. In short, I expect more tough decisions and cuts to be made before Thursday's game against the Islanders.
What's your reaction to these cuts? Who would you cut after tonight's game and why? What do those on the bubble need to do tonight to not get cut? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about these cuts and the future roster in the comments. Thank you for reading.