As the college season has ended, many seniors are now eligible free agents. The New Jersey Devils have not been shy from looking at the graduates to find some roster players in the past. This has continued under Ray Shero as the team announced tonight that they have signed forward Nick Lappin of Brown University to a two-year entry level contract. They've done so on their official Twitter account.
#NJDevils have agreed to terms w/ Brown Univ. F Nick Lappin on 2-yr entry-level deal starting in '16-17. He will report to Albany on an ATO.— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) March 9, 2016
Albany Devils fans will get a good look at Lappin as their season reaches its end. (Note: He can't be called up, as he's on an amateur tryout contract for now. The ELC begins next season.) Let's look at what Lappin has done so far. Lappin is coming from a rather bad Brown team this year. Per Brown's Men's Hockey's website, hey finished their season with a record of 5-19-7 record overall and 3-13-6 conference record in the ECAC. Lappin himself led the team in goals (17), points (33), shots (141), and tied in power play goals (4) in thirty-one games in this recent season. The numbers at Elite Prospects for the 6'1", 175 pound forward don't really jump off the page.
Then again, Brown hasn't really been good while Lappin was there. His 2014-15 season put him third on the team in points, his 2013-14 campaign put him second on the team in points, and his freshman year in 2012-13 put him in a tie for fourth on the team in points. Production isn't everything, but it's fair to say he was at least making more of an impact than most of his peers on Brown. His career stats page at Brown's site does include shots. Lappin has averaged between 2.7 and 4.1 shots per game in each of his four years with the Bears. That's something that should raise a positive eyebrow. He's been a shooter, which implies he's able to get into good positions to shoot. As far as any video, the Brown Athletics Youtube account is rather lacking for highlights. I was hoping they'd have the 12/29/15 7-5 win over Colgate where Lappin earned a hat trick and picked up two assists. Alas, there's only this highlight video of their 2/19/16 game against then 20th ranked Clarkson where Brown won 5-2. Lappin assisted on the second goal and roofed a backhander from some distance for the fourth goal.
How did he get noticed by New Jersey? We know Matt Lorito, who's on Albany, came from Brown. It would not have surprised me whether Lappin appeared on their radar then and figured on signing him when his college career was complete. Is this a good decision by New Jersey? I think so. The team really does need forwards in their system. He's a forward and he'll now be in their system. It's true his production isn't much. But he was on a poor team and the fact he averaged multiple shots per game in all four years with the Bears suggests he could have some offensive talent. While I don't know what the potential really holds for the 23-year old, the Devils are wise to dip into the new class of undrafted free agents and see if they can find someone good. Even a solid depth player is a benefit if only because they didn't have him before. An ELC isn't that costly and Lappin will likely start with Albany in the first year of this deal, so the organization can acclimate him to pro hockey first before thinking about any movement upwards. They can ask Lorito, who's played plenty with Lappin, in the meantime.
That's my reaction and my read on Lappin. Now I want to know what you think. What's your reaction to this signing? Do you think this is a good ? Are you a follower of ECAC hockey or perhaps a Brown Bears fan; if so, have you seen Lappin play and what do you think? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Nick Lappin and his deal with New Jersey in the comments. Thank you for reading. (P.S. Believe it or not, we have no Brown Bears hockey pictures. So here's a profile at the Hobey Baker site that shows him looking at the camera.)