Today, the New Jersey Devils performed a small handful of last minute roster moves in order to finalize their 23-man opening day player roster. First-round pick Pavel Zacha has been returned to the Sarnia Sting, his junior team in the OHL, while defenseman Seth Helgeson was sent back to the Albany Devils in the AHL. Patrik Elias has been placed on the non-roster injured list. Additionally, the Devils traded a conditional 7th round draft pick in exchange for center Brian O'Neill.
Opening Day Player Roster
Forwards (14): Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri, Kyle Palmieri, Adam Henrique, Sergei Kalinin, Stephen Gionta, Jiri Tlusty, Jacob Josefson, Jordin Tootoo, Lee Stempniak, Reid Boucher, Stefan Matteau. Tuomo Ruutu, Brian O'Neill.
Defensemen (7): Andy Greene, Adam Larsson, John Moore, Damon Severson, Jon Merrill, David Schlemko, Eric Gelinas.
Goaltenders (2): Cory Schneider, Keith Kinkaid.
Need offense? Why not Zacha?
Pavel Zacha is a strong prospect, but it's not a huge surprise he didn't make the team this year. Coach John Hynes explained the tough decision on whether or not he would join the team for the first nine games of the season:
"That nine-game window is important. It's really player specific in a sense that if they're really close to making the team and you have to make a pretty solid decision, then there's big value there because you get those extra games, regular season games, which is different. So, there is huge value to that.
If it's keeping someone just to keep him and give him the experience, that's a different situation. That's not developmentally good for the guys.
If a player is not going to make the team, similar to the guys that have (already) gone down, there is something to be said in the development process of not muddying the waters for them. They miss time with their team. Sometimes the longer they stay here, the more attached they get and sometimes they don't get off to a good start. So, if we feel like he's going to be here, then we'll keep him. But, if he's not going to be here, it's important for him to really get established with his (junior) team and get into his season."
[Source: Fire and Ice]
The difficult part about this decision is that he now must stay for the entire season in Sarnia. However, he's guaranteed ice time in juniors that he would not necessarily have in the NHL, and Shero and the staff decided that would be better for his development as a player, long-term.
What's going on with Patrik Elias?
Not much is available, but Tom Gulitti tweeted about this earlier:
Looks like Patrik Elias not going on IR, but non-roster injured list because injury did not occur in season (double checking this).— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) October 6, 2015
Just confirming what I wrote earlier: Devils put Patrik Elias on non-roster injured list to start season.
— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) October 6, 2015
Just confirming what I wrote earlier: Devils put Patrik Elias on non-roster injured list to start season.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) October 6, 2015
Who's this Brian O'Neill? What'd we give up?
TSN's Bob McKenzie announced a trade earlier this afternoon between the Devils and the Los Angeles Kings.
LAK get conditional 7th-rd pick for Brian O'Neill going to NJD. O'Neill was AHL MVP last season. Conditions relate to GP/re-signing.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 6, 2015
Condition on that 7th rd pick NJD gave up to LAK for O'Neill is that NJ gives it up only if Devils re-sign O'Neill for 2016-17 season.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 6, 2015
Condition on that 7th rd pick NJD gave up to LAK for O'Neill is that NJ gives it up only if Devils re-sign O'Neill for 2016-17 season.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 6, 2015
And before you ask how the AHL MVP was available for a 7th round pick (at most), he has you covered there as well:
If Kings hadn't traded O'Neill, almost certainly would have lost him on waivers. He's a 27-year-old fourth year pro. Small but fast/skilled.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 6, 2015
Seems like a potentially great pickup for virtually no cost to NJ.
It's been quite the offseason, but the new leaders in the organization have certainly made their fair share of moves, all in the best interest of putting the Devils back in the playoff picture. But now it's your turn to tell us what you think.
What's your take on the opening day roster? Do you think this lineup can send New Jersey back to the playoffs? Are you disappointed we won't see Zacha in an NHL uniform again this season? What do you think of the last minute move to obtain O'Neill?