The New Jersey Devils officially started their 2016 Prospect Development Camp today with a total of 34 players in attendance. Most of these are players either under contract or were drafted by New Jersey over the last few drafts. There are 9 players in camp that have no official ties to any NHL organization and were invited to take part in the on-ice drills and off-ice educational sessions. This post will focus mainly on getting to know more about the invitees.
The Devils will have 4 goaltenders in camp, 3 of whom are Devils property. Ken Appleby attended last year's prospect camp and eventually earned himself a contract with the Devils. He's coming off of a strong season for Adirondack in the ECHL and got his feet wet with limited AHL action with Albany. He'll be in contention to earn the starting spot in Albany next season.
The two OHL goaltenders, Mackenzie Blackwood and Evan Cormier will also be familiar to Devils fans. Blackwood was the Devils 2nd round pick in 2015 and was the OHL Goaltender of the Year last season for Barrie. His World Junior performance for Canada was rocky but such things happen in small sample sizes. Cormier was just drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 draft by the Devils. Last season saw him have mixed results as a workhorse for Saginaw.
The invited goaltender is 23 year old Matt Morris, a native of Ridgewood, NJ and currently a redshirt senior for the University of Maine. As his EliteProspects page notes, Morris came up through the North Jersey Avalanche and New Jersey Hitmen programs before spending 2010-12 with Dubuque of the USHL. He appeared in 6 games as a freshman for Maine in 2012-13 and posted an .881 SV%. He missed the entire 2013-14 season with a leg injury. He came back the following season and put up a .905 SV% in 20 games as he split starting duties. Last season saw him split playing time again and he had a .901 SV% in 23 games.
|Steven Santini||6'2||205||R||3/7/1995||21.36||Boston College||NCAA||41||1||18||19||24||50||52||1.92%||1.27||0.46|
|Colton White||6'1||185||L||5/3/1997||19.21||Sault Ste. Marie||OHL||68||9||26||35||-6||13||102||8.82%||1.50||0.51|
|Gavin Bayreuther||6'0||185||L||5/12/1994||22.18||St. Lawrence||NCAA||37||12||17||29||6||26||103||11.65%||2.78||0.78|
|Scott Savage||6'1||185||L||4/11/1995||21.27||Boston College||NCAA||41||1||17||18||14||12||62||1.61%||1.51||0.44|
As you can see from the list above, the Devils had to invite 6 defensemen as only 4 of their own were available to come to camp. Recent draft picks, Jeremy Davies and Yegor Rykov will not be in attendance. I wouldn't look into either absence that much. In the case of Davies, the Northeastern commit, he would have to pay his own way to attend. Perhaps that is no issue but as a college player it's also possible he's getting a head start academically or maybe he's recovering from an injury. Not a big deal either way. Rykov is most likely preparing for the upcoming KHL season as he tries to make the SKA St. Petersburg first team. The KHL season is just over a month away from starting so flying out for a prospect camp wouldn't make a ton of sense.
Let's take a look at the 6 invitees, starting with Howell, NJ's Zach Berzolla. As his EliteProspects page notes, the 18 year old came up through numerous NJ programs like the New Jersey Devils Youth 16U and New Jersey Jr. Titans. Last season was his first full season with Muskegon of the USHL where he posted 5 assists in 49 games. The physical defensemen is still very much a raw product and will look to round out his game at Colorado College over the next few years.
Next on the list is 22 year old Gavin Bayreuther from St. Lawrence University who is cousins with Ben Lovejoy. While his family connections may have helped him get an invite, I do find him to be an intriguing prospect in his own right. According to his EliteProspects page, Bayreuther has put up solid offensive numbers in 3 seasons with St. Lawrence with 27 goals and 55 assists over 112 games. He was 3rd on the team in scoring and 1st among defensemen as a freshman with 36 points in 38 games in 2013-14. He followed that up with 17 points in 37 games as the 2nd highest scoring defensemen on the team in 2014-15. It's notable that the team leader only had 26 points that year as the team struggled offensively. Last season he put up 29 points in 37 games to lead the team in scoring. This put him tied for 6th in the NCAA in defensemen scoring. His 2.78 shots per game last season ranked tied for 5th nationally. Ben Kerr of Last Word on Sports ranked him as one of the top UDFA's last spring. Here's some of what he had to say on him:
He has an outstanding slap shot, with excellent power and accuracy. He shows the ability to be a power play quarterback with solid puckhandling skill, good vision, and strong passing ability. He is a very good skater showing good speed and the agility to walk the line and open up shooting and passing lanes. Bayreuther could use some extra upper body strength as he can be manhandled along the boards and in front of the net in his own end of the ice.
Next on the list is 17 year old Luke McInnis, the son of former NHLer Marty. The young defender from Massachusetts was ranked 141st among the North American Skaters by Central Scouting but went undrafted. This was after spending the 2015-16 season with Youngstown of the USHL where he finished 2nd among the defensemen in scoring on the team with 28 points in 58 games. The Projection Project's model gives him about a 23% chance of becoming a regular NHL player eventually. He is committed to play for Boston College in 2017-18 though I suppose he could always push that ahead to next season. A solid season next year and he could find himself drafted. Their certainly appears to be some potential there. Jeff Cox of SBN College Hockey had this to say about McInnis back in May of 2015:
His skating and puck skills are a gift, but he needs to learn when to take the chances and when to play it smart. He's a silky smooth skater with vision and awareness of what's going on the ice to distribute the puck. Working on his defensive game and keeping it simpler will allow him to be a better prospect, but there is a lot to like.
Next up is 22 year old Garret Cockerill who just completed his sophomore season with Northeastern. According to EliteProspects, the Michigan native came up through the Compuware youth system from 2007-12. He had a brief cameo with Muskegon of the USHL in the 2010-11 season and then with the USNTDP the following season. He spent his first full USHL season with Des Moines in 2012-13 putting up 14 points and 64 PIM in 53 games. The following season he split time between Des Moines and Sioux City with 20 points and 130 PIM in 46 games. Over the course of 2 NCAA seasons, he has 11 goals, 25 assists, and 46 PIM in 71 games so he's definitely been able to stay out of the box a bit more. This past season he even led the Northeastern defensemen in scoring with 22 points in 37 games.
Next we have 22 year old Merrimack defender Marc Biega. Looking at his EliteProspects page, we see the Quebec native spent 2008-10 with Lac St-Louis in the QMAAA where he had 36 points in 84 games. He would go on to play prep hockey in the US in 2010-11 with the Salisbury School (CT) where he had 13 points in 26 games. The following season he would captain the team and notch 38 points in 28 games. Instead of going to the QMJHL, he would instead choose to play in the BCHL to retain his NCAA eligibility. He would spend 2012-14 with the Coquitlam Express, leading the defensemen in scoring in both of his seasons. Overall, he put up 21 goals and 41 assists in 94 games during that stretch. He even was teammates with Devils prospect Alex Kerfoot in the 2012-13 season. So far over the course of 2 seasons for Merrimack where he plays alongside Devils prospect Brett Seney, Biega has 7 goals and 20 assists in 77 games.
The final defensemen invitee on the list is 21 year old Scott Savage from Boston College. According to EliteProspects, we see he came up through the Los Angeles Selects youth system and then earned in the USNTDP from 2011-13. So far in 3 seasons at Boston College he has put up 5 goals, 37 assists, and 32 PIM in 114 games. He figures to be a prominent figure on the blue line for BC as a senior next season.
|Miles Wood||6'2||185||L||9/13/1995||20.84||Boston College||NCAA||37||10||25||35||13||76||112||8.93%||3.03||0.95|
|Jan Mandat||6'0||205||L||11/18/1995||20.66||Val d'Or||QMJHL||62||20||44||64||37||39||179||11.17%||2.89||1.03|
|J.D. Dudek||5'11||180||R||1/29/1996||20.47||Boston College||NCAA||34||1||2||3||-6||6||15||6.67%||0.44||0.09|
|Joseph Blandisi||6'0||200||L||7/18/1994||22.00||New Jersey||NHL||41||5||12||17||-14||34||43||11.63%||1.05||0.41|
|Blake Speers||5'11||185||R||1/2/1997||19.54||Sault Ste. Marie||OHL||68||26||48||74||-5||42||229||11.35%||3.37||1.09|
|Chris Shero||5'10||185||L||10/2/1995||20.79||Boston College||NCAA||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.00%||0.00||0.00|
|Austin Cangelosi||5'7||170||R||8/27/1994||21.89||Boston College||NCAA||41||20||17||37||17||12||82||24.39%||2.00||0.90|
The Devils have a total of 18 forwards at camp who are already under contract or have their rights held by the club. As a result of this, the Devils invited only 2 forwards to join their camp. Before we discuss those players we should note that LW Mikhail Maltsev, a recent Devils 4th round draft pick, is not on the camp roster. Like with Yegor Rykov, this absence could be for a number of normal reasons. Most likely he's preparing for the start of the Russian season which is just over a month away and it wouldn't make sense for him to fly to New Jersey for the prospect camp. Alex Kerfoot is not listed on the roster but like Davies, it could be something as simple as taking a summer class or getting over an injury. Not a big deal.
Let's take a look at the invited forwards, starting with diminutive center Austin Cangelosi. The 21 year old is coming off a productive junior campaign with Boston College last year that saw him finish 2nd on the team with 20 goals and 4th on the team in scoring with 37 points in 41 games. His 63.7 FO% led not only Boston College but essentially the NCAA among full time centers. Cangelosi has been a productive player at every level he's played at as you can see from his EliteProspects profile. He put up 52 goals and 58 assists in 61 games for Northfield Mount Hermon School (MA) in High School from 2009-11. He then spent 2011-13 with the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL where he had 50 goals and 73 assists in 109 games. From 2013-16 he's put up 36 goals and 47 assists in 118 NCAA games for BC. He'll likely be a fixture on the top line next year as a productive upperclassman who will help lead a squad that has been ravished with early departures. While you shouldn't write off a player just because of size, you can't ignore it. At 5'7, 170 lbs. he's going to have a hard time adapting to professional hockey but I am interested in seeing how he does at camp. I'm satisfied the Devils will be getting an up close look at him as he's going to be an undrafted free agent to keep an eye on next season.
The other invited forward is Ray Shero's son, Chris, a LW that appeared in one game for Boston College last season. As you can see from his EliteProspects profile, he's not much of a prospect. A fun fact, Shero was actually a teammate of J.D. Dudek at Kimball Union Academy (NH) back in 2013-14 before joining up with him again last year at BC.
What stands out to you about this roster? Do any of the invitees interest you? Are you going to try to make the 3v3 tournament on Wednesday? What about the scrimmage on Saturday? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!