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From Bridgeport with Love: A Review of the A-Devils Past Saturday

Having moved to Connecticut when I was younger does not allow me to catch too many Devils games in person during the year. I do however have the ability to see their minor league team when they come through against Bridgeport and/or Hartford. Today I give my thoughts on some of the younger players in Albany and how they may eventually contribute to the main roster.

I'll take Joe Whitney in New Jersey over someone like Michael Ryder any day of the week.
I'll take Joe Whitney in New Jersey over someone like Michael Ryder any day of the week.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Being a New Jersey Devils fan in Connecticut isn't easy; there's not very many of us around, and we're surrounded by fans of Our Hated Rivals who like to pretend that the late 90s and early 2000s didn't happen for their team.  In addition to that, our state plays host to the minor league teams for both OHR and the New York Islanders; while it's great to have local hockey around, it's not so great when you're in Hartford and dealing with the same aforementioned fan base that likes to try and play revisionist history.

Living one town over from Bridgeport however isn't that bad; I've gone to quite a few Sound Tigers games and met a good number of Islander fans who are civil and love to talk hockey.  Even when a rival team like our Albany Devils comes to town, Sound Tigers fans will boo the players, but still be respectful to opposing fans.  My girlfriend was able to win a set of tickets to the Albany/Bridgeport game this past Saturday, and since I finally got to watch Albany in person for the first time in a while, I though I would take some time this week to provide some insight on some of our prospects/minor league talent that many of you may only get updated on when Brian posts his weekly update.

The Game Itself

The entire game was a bit of a sloppy contest, but to be fair to Albany they're dealing with some injuries (Raman Hrabarenka, Scott Timmins and Kelly Zajac in particular) and missing many others due to New Jersey needing to call up some players due to injury/illness.  I'm not entirely sure if Bridgeport was missing a lot of players or if their depth is just shot due to most of their big name guys being up on Long Island, but either way it seemed that their bottom 6 just did not come to play on this night.

Albany controlled the play right from the start and aside from a few errors they played a really good game.  A couple of their defenders stood out in a bad way (Corbin McPherson and Reece Scarlett were really the only defenders that I would say had a good game; Mike Keenan had a train-wreck of a game; Dan Kelly was a +3 but it was more of a "right place, right time" +3) and it led to some goals for Bridgeport.  Compounding that problem was the goaltending; while Maxime Clermont got the win, I can safely say he will never be more than a career AHL player.  A couple of the shots that he let in would be considered simple saves for any regular NHL goalie.

Overall I was happy to see one Devils team get a win live (since New Jersey couldn't win at the game where I got to meet Alex, CJ and John who are all awesome, avid hockey fans) over the last few weeks; there were quite a few players who stood out in a good way, and I'd like to take a brief look at all of them:

Players that Stood Out

Mike Sislo

Mike looked great on the ice and it really made me wonder why he hasn't put more of the pieces together when he gets called up.  He showed that he has good hands, good sense, good passing and he isn't afraid to throw a hit either.  He did not attempt a shot on goal however and was used in the same bottom-6 role New Jersey usually would place him in.

Joe Whitney

"Little Joe" had an incredible week; after scoring his first NHL on New Year's Eve, Whitney would return to Albany and skated on a line with Graham Black and Paul Thompson for this game.  This is a player that deserves another shot in New Jersey's lineup; the whole line looked excellent tonight, and Whitney continued to showcase his excellent shot.  While Bridgeport goaltender David Leggio managed to stop 4 of Whitney's shots, one of them got past; Joe would also add two helpers in Albany's victory on his way to earning first star of the game honors.  He would go on to be named the AHL Player of the Week two days later and he was named to AHL Eastern Conference All Star team yesterday; quite a seven day span for him!

Graham Black

Graham was a player who I went into this game knowing little about aside from the facts that he is a center prospect of ours who we drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NHL Draft.  I know 5th rounders aren't necessarily expected to contribute to their NHL club at any point in their career, but after watching Black play, I would be more surprised if he did not make the NHL roster at some point.  He only appeared in two games for Albany last season after concluding his junior hockey career, so this is really his first season playing professionally and I must say I was impressed.  Black's stat line of just one goal in a 7-4 game was deceptive; his decision making, passing and poise are better than some of the players the Devils have in the NHL right now.  As he's only going to be 22 next week, he might be somewhat inconsistent with his game right now, but if he can continue to grow, he should at least get a shot with the big club somewhere down the road.

Reece Scarlett

Scarlett is someone who never seems to draw a lot of attention, and I guess with some of the bigger names in the defensive prospect pool that have already "graduated" (plus Hrabarenka making a name for himself with the Devils' brass) perhaps he's just being overlooked at the moment.  I saw a solid defenseman on the ice who mad a lot of smart plays with the puck; he was able to move it up the ice with ease as well.  Reece kept himself composed throughout the game, whether he was facing Bridgeport's best players or some of their lower lines.  We may never see him in New Jersey due to the depth ahead of him, but I would be shocked if he didn't at least earn a call up at some point down the road.

Paul Thompson

I have seen many Devils fans clamoring for Thompson to be signed to a 2-way contract, rather than the AHL contract he is currently playing on; after this game, I can see why.  On a team starved for offense, Thompson (along with his line mate Whitney) displayed quick, accurate and powerful shooting.  His goal in the first period was pinpoint perfect and really helped him to stand out; he seemed to have a good amount of speed to him, and his entire line played smart hockey all night.  If the Devils have an open contract, they should be inking Thompson as soon as humanly possible.


Now I'd like to hear any thoughts you have about our minor league Devils; do you see any of them having a future with the main club?  Have you seen any Albany games?  If so, which players have stood out positively or negatively to you?  Leave any and all comments below and as always thanks for reading!


I will try to update this post later on today with some of the pictures my girlfriend took while we attended the game!