Pardon my title reference borrowed from Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm, but it seems fitting as Nick Lappin was
perhaps the best player on the Binghamton Devils last season in the second edition of my off-season series reports First Impressions.
Last week, I suggested John Quenneville may need some additional time in Binghamton, but many of you fans have also raised the idea of including JQ in a trade at some point. Interesting enough. Can’t wait to see what this week’s reactions will bring concerning Lappin.
What a year it was for the Geneva, IL native. Let’s get right to it.
A Career Best Season
Lappin has a proven track record of offensive success as a scoring leader at Brown University where he accumulated 106 points (51g, 55a) in 123 games during his four-year tenure and it carried through into his pro career.
Going back to his rookie season of 2016-’17, Lappin showed early promise after he tallied 14 goals and added 15 assists in 35 contests with Albany while splitting time in NJ for 43 games scoring 4 goals and 3 helpers.
In his second year as a pro in Binghamton, the 6’1”, 175 lb. forward was used in all situations, including time on the power play with the first unit. The role seemed to have fit him well that later boosted his confidence level as the go-to guy in clutch situations, as the team ended up with a 7th ranking in the league at 18.9% with his five goals on the man advantage.
Lappin was often aligned on the first line with Bracken Kearns and Kevin Rooney, along with Brett Seney and Christoph Bertschy towards the end. However, Coach Kowalsky would always favor Lappin as a top six forward for the lion’s share.
But on a lighter side, Lappin was a fun player to watch as his goal celebrations took a life of its own that have become legendary as he shared his enthusiasm amongst the crowd with several low fist pumps. (A far cry from a stiffed face Blake Pietila in comparison. Sorry, Blake, it was just too obvious). Reminiscent only of another player in Matt Puempel of the past BSens with his energetic celebrations, just without the kissing of teammates on occasions.
Earned Some High Praises
Let’s face it. Lappin had been one of the best, most consistent players for the BDevils.
The undrafted, 25-year-old forward showed why he is a confident leader as one of the cardholders that wore the ‘A’ on his jersey. He led the club in goals with 31, tied for third in the league with Greg Carey of Lehigh Valley and Grand Rapids’ Eric Tangradi. He also finished with 53 points, two behind team leader Jacob MacDonald with a total of 55.
In my Grade Reports from The Panel, Lappin’s line averaged 88.46 which led the team with MacDonald right behind with an 87.42 average. When broken down for each quarter, the votes read;
90.88 / A-, 83.37 / B, 87.5 / B+, 92.12 / A-
Lappin was also awarded Top Forward and also earned Most Stars of the Game award following the 2017-’18 campaign.
Afterall, his intensity level was driven surrounding the cage with a high hockey IQ in his back pocket with good ice vision while leading the team with five GWG’s. He has a knack to be a natural goal scorer and the ability to take a hit and bounce right back into action without missing a beat, as he missed just a total of four games due to minor injuries last season for the BDevils.
Re-Signing Should Be A No-Brainer
Whether it’s a two-way or an exclusive one-way contract, the New Jersey Devils look to re-sign Lappin with limited risks at stake. He is an RFA status with his two-year ELC deal already expired as a favorable two-way deal looks like the best fit for now.
This past year he was called up for a total of six games for New Jersey and registered a single goal. However, Lappin doesn't need much more seasoning in the AHL as he is close to being ready. Perhaps some additional defensive work would be in order to help round out his overall game.
He could wind up in NJ in a bottom-six role if he has a good camp and if there’s room, as the Devils will have to make some moves during the off-season especially with the John Tavares saga on July 1st and if they go for the impending free agent. If not, Lappin will look to continue his dominance at the AHL level at the start of 2018-’19 and be the top call-up if and when the situation arises.
A pretty, pretty, pretty good situation to be in for Nick Lappin if you ask me.
Next up for First Impressions; Defenseman Jacob MacDonald and his offensive prowess and what he needs to work on defensively for next season.