Earlier this evening, the New Jersey Devils announced their active roster for the start of the 2018-19 season. All NHL teams had to submit their active roster (maximum of 23 men) and meet cap requirements today. Every team has had this kind of announcement today.
For the Devils, this means that we finally have closure on who made the team out of camp: forward John Quenneville and defenseman Eric Gryba. Quenneville has been a mainstay of the team’s prospect development camps, prospect games, and training camps since 2012. It took time, effort, and opportunity for the 22-year old and he has realized it this year. He did not have bad preseason games. He served his role without being a detriment. No one really surpassed him. Therefore, he is on the roster and could very well play in the season opener on Saturday. Congratulations to Quenneville.
Gryba was one of the few free agent signings by Ray Shero this Summer. I thought he would be safe bet to be a B-Devil as Gryba could not stick it in Edmonton last season and ended up in Bakersfield in the AHL. He is not particularly fast and it’s questionable if he is a good defender. He does plays a physical game and his slapshot is not bad. He got his shot in preseason and while Ty Smith was really the best of the non-New Jersey defensemen, Gryba was not bad. The Devils clearly wanted an eighth defenseman and so they stuck with him as Smith was returned to his junior team and Egor Yakovlev was demoted. Congratulaitons to Gryba.
The other new name is Jean-Sebastian Dea. He was placed on waivers by Pittsburgh and the Devils claimed him on Friday, September 28. Dea was a mainstay of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and put up plenty of points in the AHL last season (50 out of 70 games). The right-handed center can play wing and it appears from his one preseason appearance that is where he will be used when he does play. I did not think he was a risk of not making the team as he would have to clear waivers to go to Binghamton. Another team, like Pittsburgh, could just claim him again if they did that. Besides, that the Devils claimed him at all means they like what he does. So it’s not like he made the team out of camp like Quenneville and Gryba did. I expect him to be a spare forward for bottom-six duty for now.
With this announcement, there is also closure to some loose ends. The Devils took four goalies with them to Europe. Cory Schneider is listed as injured, as expected; but Mackenzie Blackwood is not on the listed roster. It appears to me that a paper move was made such that he’s with Binghamton roster-wise even though he is physically with New Jersey. I believe the Devils got permission to carry three goalies with them since they are overseas to. The paper move is easy as Blackwood is exempt from waivers. If needed, he can be “called up” quickly. I would expect him to head to Binghamton when the team returns from Sweden. Lastly, Drew Stafford is also not on the list. I think the fact that we did not see him in preseason games after the first few was a strong indication that he would not get a contract. That appears to be the case. I have not yet seen announcement that he was released from his tryout, so he could stick around like Scott Gomez did a few seasons back and get signed if injuries strike the team. I doubt that we’ll see a repeat of that, though.
Now that we know what the opening roster will be, how do you think head coach John Hynes will line them up for Saturday’s game? Are you pleased that Quenneville and Gryba made it? Do you think either of them and/or Dea will play on Saturday? If not, then when do you think we will see them? Please leave your answers and other thoughts in the comments. Thank you for reading.