Earlier today, the New Jersey Devils announced their 2016 Preseason Schedule on their website. They will be playing three out of eight games in Newark. Two of their five road games will technically be neutral site games. From the Devils' website, here's the schedule:
- 9/26/2016 - vs. Philadelphia, 7 PM EST
- 9/26/2016 - at Montreal, 7:30 PM EST
- 9/28/2016 - at Philadelphia in Allentown, PA, 7 PM EST
- 9/29/2016 - at NY Rangers, 7 PM EST
- 10/1/2016 - vs. NY Rangers, 7 PM EST
- 10/3/2016 - at NY Islanders, 7 PM EST
- 10/5/2016 - vs. NY Islanders, 7 PM EST
- 10/8/2016 - at Florida in West Point, NY, 7:30 PM EST
Some of these games were announced through announcements by other teams, most notably Florida's game at West Point as it was during their new jersey announcement. That in of itself is a change of pace as Tate Ice Rink at West Point is 200 feet by 90 feet. That's a little wider than a NHL rink, which is 200 feet by 85 feet.
In any case, this is the full schedule. The Devils will play the maximum of eight preseason games, an increase on the seven they had last year. The first night is also of interest as they will be split squad games for New Jersey. That will mean the Rock and the Bell Center will get a mixture of NHL players, minor league players, and prospects performing for the Devils at around the same time.
Based on the dates of games, I would guess that we may see first cuts made after the September 29th game against the Rangers, with cuts following on off days afterwards. This happened last season with a round of cuts made after the first three preseason games on an off day. With three games in four nights to start preseason - especially with a split squad game to start - I would expect the Devils to keep as many players in camp until the schedule breaks up a bit.
Also, Cory Schneider - the lone Devil going to the World Cup of Hockey - will get an opportunity to return to the Devils and get in a few games. The tournament runs from September 17 through October 1. Assuming Team USA goes all the way - which I really doubt will happen given their roster - Schneider could be back with New Jersey by the October 3 game in Brooklyn at the latest. An earlier exit for the Americans could mean an earlier return of #35 to the crease.
I'm going to guess the 2016-17 NHL regular season will begin on the following week after the Devils' last preseason game. Last year, there was a full week break between the Devils' final preseason game and their first game that counted. With the game at West Point being October 8, I could see the Devils starting their 82-game campaign sometime between October 12 - 15. This would give the Devils plenty of time to rest, make some final decisions, and prepare for a season to begin close to that week's end. We'll find out when the regular season schedule gets announced, probably sometime later this month.
Lastly, I would have loved if the Devils detailed how fans can follow these games. Especially with five of them not being in New Jersey, there has to be some kind of coverage to follow those games beyond refreshing a boxscore at NHL.com. Even a direct feed of the scoreboard on the Devils site will do. Maybe we'll get word of that when preseason gets closer.
Now that you know the preseason schedule of the Devils, what do you think of it? Would you want to go see any of the preseason games in Newark? Does this get you excited for the next season, even if it is only preseason? Please leave your answers and thoughts about the schedule in the comments. Thank you for reading.