Apologies for the later than usual news, but earlier today, the New Jersey Devils announced their roster for this year’s development camp at the team’s official website. The purpose of this camp is to get prospects and young, developing players together and give them some ice time in the Summer. While this camp will not decide who plays where, who fills in roster gaps for New Jersey or Binghamton, or who may get signed, it’ll give the coaching staff and management an up-close look at the young players in their organization.
I am happy to report that the Devils roster consists of 33 players - and only two invited players from outside of the organization. It speaks to how much younger the organization became in recent years that they did not have to get extra bodies to have a scrimmage or even up positions for drills. It also speaks to the fact there are not a lot of college prospects; those players have to maintain their amateur eligibility and so it is usually tough to get them to Newark for a week for a session without any help from the organization. But there are a few as the roster contains a who’s who of who’s in the Devils’ system. Here’s who will be attending this year’s camp:
Goalies (4): Evan Cormier, Gilles Senn, Ken Appleby, and MacKenzie Blackwood
The latest Devils goaltender prospect, Senn, will be present and this camp will be a good opportunity to see how he may stack up with the other young goalies. Scott Wedgewood is not attending. As he’s 24 and has been in the system since 2010, his absence is fine. They know who he is and what he can do. It’s hard to say he’s a prospect; he’s really #3 on the depth chart - for now.
Defensemen (9): Michael Kapla, Steve Santini, Joshua Jacobs, Yaroslav Dablenko, Reilly Walsh, Colton White, Colby Sissons, Jocktan Chainey, and Jeremy Davies.
I was surprised to see Davies here as he’s a college player for Northeastern. Good to see that he has found a way to be here. Ditto for the recently drafted Walsh, who is committed to Harvard for next season. I’m interested in how Kapla and Dablenko perform. Kapla was signed during last season and made a few NHL appearances and Dablenko was signed right out of the KHL much earlier in this offseason. While their roster hopes will likely be based more on how they do in training camp, I’d like to see whether they stand out in a good way among this group. Santini is young and could be a measuring stick of sorts.
Forwards (20): Nico Hischier, Pavel Zacha, Michael McLeod, Nathan Bastian, Miles Wood, John Quenneville, Joey Anderson, Brandon Gignac, Brandon Baddock, Ryan Kujawinski, Jesper Boqvist, Fabian Zetterlund, Austin Cangelosi, Nikita Popugaev, Jesper Bratt, Marian Studenic, Robert Carpenter (invite), Blake Speers, Aarne Talvite, and Nicolas Guay (invite).
Wow! That’s nearly the entire group of prospective forwards. Zacha and Wood were effectively NHLers last season but it makes sense to give them some additional attention given their young ages. But there’s a great range of talent and skills here; plenty of fast and/or attacking players. All the forwards from the 2017 draft class are here, led by #1 overall draft pick Hischier. This will be the first time Hischier suits up in a Devils uniform; that alone is tantalizing. Nearly all of the forwards from the 2016 draft class are here as well. I’m surprised and pleased to see that Anderson (currently at University of Minnesota-Duluth) and Talvite (Penn State commit) are here as well. If this group does not excite you for the future, then I don’t know what more will do it.
Even the invites - only two of them in the whole roster! - are intriguing. Guay went undrafted this year and had an unusual season. The right-shooting forward started the 2016-17 season with Drummondville and then went off to play for Red Bull Salzburg EC in something called the Alps Hockey League. It was not so much a development league, but as far as I could tell, it was filled with young players. Guay returned to the QMJHL later in the season, though. Robert Carpenter a.k.a. Bobo Carpenter is indeed the son of former Devil, Bobby Carpenter. The 20-year old left winger isn’t here solely because of who his dad is. Carpenter is coming off a solid sophomore season with Boston University, where he finished fourth in team scoring with 14 goals and 18 assists in 38 games. That’s a big jump from his freshman year; should he sustain or improve on his gains, then he could be a potential free agent signing when he comes out of college. They’re good invites in that they have had interesting 2016-17 seasons to warrant a closer look.
Prospects Who Are Not on the Camp Roster: Alexander Kerfoot (RW), J.D. Dudek (C), Brett Seney (LW), Yegor Rykov (D), Mikhail Maltsev (LW), Yegor Zaitsev (D), Matthew Hellickson (D).
Of course, not every prospect is in this development camp. The KHL-based players Rykov, Maltsev, and Zaitsev are not on this roster. Hellickson, Senery, and Dudek are all college or college-bound players. It is possible they could not attend on their own. The biggest name is Kerfoot. The 2012 fifth-round selection did complete his college career with Harvard last season and could become a free agent if the Devils do not sign him by mid-August. I understand why he would not be in this camp as he is not under contract. He’s not going to risk getting hurt. Even if he does end up signing with New Jersey, an injury would hurt any potential deal so it makes sense to sit this one out. That said, among the players who will not be in development camp, Kerfoot stands out due to his potential free agency.
This camp will take place next week at the RWJ/Barnabas Health Hockey House. There will be practices, drills, sessions, and even a 3-on-3 scrimmage which you can attend if you get on the waitlist now. I believe there is a full scrimmage at the end of camp as well. In any case, now that the roster is released, I want to know what you think of it. Are you as pleased as I am to see only two invited players on this roster? Who on this roster interests you the most? Do you like the invitations extended to Guay and Carpenter? Are you attending either of the scrimmages? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the development camp and its roster in the comments. Thank you for reading.