John Quenneville appears to be at the cusp in making his dreams come true, just like any other aspiring hockey hopeful would have in making it to the big show, and I hope he does, as there is nothing more satisfying then to witness the process in player development for those that either make it, or unfortunately fall short in their quest from my point of view.
As far as Quenneville, it appears the door might be opening a hair closer coming up this fall for the New Jersey Devils now that Travis Zajac is out with for a lengthy time with an upper body injury for the next four to six months.
Will he make the big club out of training camp, or will he find himself as one of the top forwards in Binghamton crafting his skills and be one of the top call-ups in reserve, as Quenneville will have that opportunity in September despite the presence of Nico Hischier, Michael McLeod, Blake Speers, Joe Blandisi or Blake Coleman, all competing for a roster spot.
I believe he participated in three out of the four games in Binghamton for the Albany Devils last season against the Senators without registering a point. And to be honest, I don’t recall his time on the ice as nothing special and not having an opinion to follow up on, which can be either good or bad however you may want to spin it. I just hope I am blessed to have another opportunity to see him for the BDevils at some point this coming season to form one.
As far as former first round draft picks that donned the jersey for the BSens over the last 15 seasons?
We’ve had our share for sure, that included Jason Spezza, Nick Foligno, Matt Puempel, Mika Zibanejad, Curtis Lazar, Cody Ceci, Patrick Eaves, Colin White (briefly) and of course, Erik Karlsson for a dozen games. While others, not so much, with Brian Lee, Jim O’Brien, Nikita Filatov and Jared Cowen at the head of the pack as those didn’t pan out for various reasons.
Let us hope Quenneville is on the opposite end of the “have nots” of a promising career, as he embarks in his second full season in the pros.
Looking back, Quenneville was quite productive in his rookie campaign in Albany primarily as a left winger, but also saw time at center as he recorded 14 goals and 32 assists in 58 contests. He then got his first break in the NHL on Dec 1st, 2016 against Chicago with over nine minutes of ice time. Although he didn’t draw a point on the score sheet that night, Quenneville ended up with a goal and three assists over a span of 12 contests for New Jersey that earned the praise of Devils’ GM Ray Shero, as he surmised his playing time for the big club;
"He's got a great personality to him, but being around and meeting some of these new kids and again he's a kid that's been here before has played NHL games, has played in Albany obviously," Devils GM Ray Shero said. "So it's good to have his insight but more importantly for him, to him to be part of it, because we're looking to have him make another step as well and see where that takes him"
But the good news for Binghamton fans, he’ll be a major boost to what seems to be a young club despite his age. The bad news? He’ll most likely be the first call-up during a stressful situation for New Jersey. But, we’re accustomed to all of that when it involves player development here in Binghamton throughout the years.
Surrounding the hype for the 6’1”, 21 year-old native out of Edmonton is Binghamton Devils’ head coach Rick Kowalsky, as he will be entering his second year of his recent contract extension, and his seventh consecutive season overall behind the bench for the Devils’ AHL club.
The recent AHL Coach of the Year recipient had this to say concerning one of his star pupil’s from last season;
"He's got to get a little quicker and get consistent with playing inside, which I think he can do," Kowalsky said. "All the tools are there, it's just what he continues to do over the summer to improve his skating, get a little bit quicker with his foot speed so he can consistently play at that pace, and be willing to go to those hard areas."
As the Devils announced on Wednesday, they have invited Jimmy Hayes to training camp on a PTO, which should help out the forward depth with the loss of Zajac if he indeed makes the club. There might be another PTO invitee to the Devils’ camp coming up, (along with Binghamton I’ve been told) which would further bolster the possibility of Quenneville beginning the season in Bingo. Time will only tell I suppose, as the Devils’ camp will decide his fate with some damn good competition on the line in a little over a month..
Besides, this is why I love hockey in Binghamton. An opportunity to watch players develop and follow their dreams.