For years, the New Jersey Devils have held an annual development camp for their prospects and young players in July. This year is no different. From July 10 to July 14, 33 players (just as many as last year) will come to Newark, New Jersey for five days of drills, sessions, meetings and scrimmages. Some are familiar with the process, some are brand new, and there are five invited players.
The team’s official website has the full roster, as posted earlier today day by Amanda Stein. As a quick aside, Stein, who has worked for the Devils last year, has signed a deal to stay with the organization. So expect more articles, podcasts, Tweets, and in-game appearances from Stein as a reporter within the organization. Good for things like lineup information, favorable quotes, and so forth. Not so good if you’re looking for news about the organization that may not be favorable, but that’s the way sports teams do business these days. They have become a part of their own media. It is what it is. If you do not care for her, well, deal with it. Anyway, back to the roster, let’s break it down.
Goalies (4): MacKenzie Blackwood, Cam Johnson, Gilles Senn, and Akira Schmid
Senn and Blackwood took part in last year’s camp. Johnson, who was signed out of college earlier this year, and Schmid, who was drafted by the Devils a few weeks ago, are new. While this is development camp, this is a good chance for Blackwood and Johnson to show the coaches what they are capable of ahead of Binghamton’s 2018-19 season. The battle will continue into training camp; but it would be in both players’ best interests to do well for this week. Senn is under contract with HC Davos for another year according to Elite Prospects. Next year’s camp - developmental or regular - will be more crucial for him.
Defensemen (10): Michael Kim (invite), Ty Smith, Reilly Walsh, Xavier Bernard, Tariq Hammond, Colton White, Jeremy Groleau (invite), Colby Sissons, Jocktan Chainey, Jeremy Davies
There are only two defenders at this camp who are professional last season. Tariq Hammond was signed out of the University of Denver by Binghamton last season. He made it in five games. Colton White made his professional debut last season with 47 games with Binghamton and 11 games with Adirondack of the ECHL. Per Jeff and his crew of grades of Binghamton players, White did not exactly impress in that first season. Everyone else was in college or in junior. Colby Sissons may be the only one to join the professional ranks as he finished up his junior career by putting up buckets of points with Swift Current.
The big name to watch among this group is Ty Smith, the Devils’ first round draft pick of the 2018 NHL Draft. This camp will be his first appearance in a New Jersey Devils uniform on the ice. I’m very interested in how he will stack up. He does need to put on weight and get stronger; but I do hope he demonstrates his skills well among the other prospective players. As for the others, the goal is to show progress.
The two invited defensemen are worth mentioning. Jeremy Groleau is an 18-year old left-shooting defenseman with the Chicoutimi Sanguenees of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Per Elite-Prospects, he’s got good size; but he has not been that productive, though, as he followed up his rookie season of 4 points with 12 points in 2016-17 and 15 in 2017-18. I suspect that he’s there to make up the numbers. Michael Kim is a more interesting invited player. The 23-year old left-shooting defender was the captain of Boston College in his junior year. His Elite-Prospects page also lists that he made it to the Hockey East Third All-Star team. Plus, he has averaged 0.53 points per game in his sophomore and junior years, where he played most of the season for BC. He has a bit of pedigree; which is something I appreciate in an invited player.
Forwards (18): Max Veronneau (invite), Michael McLeod, Nathan Bastian, Blake Speers, John Quenneville, Joey Anderson, Brett Seney, Brandon Gignac, Jesper Boqvist, Yegor Sharangovich, Mitchell Hoelscher, Fabian Zetterlund, Eetu Pakkila, Marian Studenic, Bobo Carpenter (invite), John Edwardh, Aarne Talvitie, Max Andreev (invite)
John Quenneville is the veteran of this group as this is his fifth (and final?) camp. He leads a crew of current and incoming B-Devils. This week will be a good time for them to showcase some signs of improvement. For example, Gignac is coming back from a torn ACL and has plenty to show. Based on Jeff’s and his crew’s grades of the Binghamton players, Speers and Bastian could stand to show more, Quenneville needs to make that “leap,” and Seney could be a good one for the future. As for incoming B-Devs, McLeod got a few games at the end of last season and is now eligible to play in the AHL. Studenic went on a long playoff run with Hamilton, but he’s also 20 and can go to the A too. Anderson can also go to New York state after signing a contract out of college at the end of last season. John Edwardh was signed out of UMass-Lowell by Binghamton and made one appearance last year and two with Adirondack. He’ll be looking for something more in 2018-19 and these days in July certainly would not hurt his cause.
I am encouraged to see most of the other international players join the team for camp. Boqvist and Zetterlund are entering the final year of their current contract, so how they’ll perform may help gauge how the Devils will handle that. Aarne Talvitie will be going to Penn State later this season. It’s good that he is able to come to camp - the Devils cannot host him as that would violate his eligibility - after having such a strong season with the U-20 Espoo Blues team. This camp will be a good warm up before he enters the NCAA. The recently drafted Sharangovich, Hoelscher, and Pakkila are also making their on-ice Devils debut. This camp will be a good experience for all three. If any of them has the most to prove, then it’s likely Sharangovich as he’s 20 and currently out of contract. This camp and camp in the Fall could help decide where he plays in 2018-19.
The invited players are also worth noting. Max Andreev (or Maxim Andreyev per Elite Prospects) is Sergei Brylin’s nephew. He’s going to Cornell next year and put up 43 points in 56 games with Central Illinois of the United Stats Hockey League last season. He’s here also to make up the numbers. Andreev is Again, college players cannot be supported by the organization so locals and those who can support him staying in the area for a week can make do. The other two are Bobo Carpenter and Max Veronneau. Carpenter attended camp last year and he has grown to be a big player for the Boston University Terriers. He was an assistant captain last year, he’s got a “C” already marked on his EP profile, and he made the Hockey East Second All-Star Team with 20 goals and 15 assists in 40 games. Oh, and BU won the Hockey East Championship. Bobo is Bobby Carpenter’s son; he’s very much a player. Others have noticed, this is not his first development camp this year either. The other invited player is the Princeton point machine Max Veronneau. In his junior year, Veronneau became one of the highest scoring players in all of NCAA hockey with 17 goals and 38 assists for 55 points. With the points came success - Princeton won the ECAC - and accolades. Veronneau was named to the All-Ivy All-Star Team, the ECAC First All-Star Team, and the NCAA East Second All-American Team. Like Carpenter, this is not Veronneau’s first camp this summer. Both players are entering their senior years. These development camps can only help a team decide if Carpenter or Veronneau are worth pursuing as they end their senior years in 2019. Do not be surprised if they are in demand - especially if Veronneau tops 50 points in college again.
Who’s Not on the Camp Roster (4): Matthew Hellickson (D), Yegor Zaitsev (D), Mikhail Maltsev (LW), Nikita Popugayev (RW)
The Russian prospects are all not on the camp roster. This is not a huge surprise. Zaitsev and Maltsev did not attend development camp last year either. Nikita Popugayev moved from WHL hockey to CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League during last season. I presume he is not coming to camp for the same reasons Zaitsev and Maltsev are not coming. Hellickson, who plays for Norte Dame, also did not attend development camp last year either. These are not huge losses for development camp or for the players. A few days in July will not make or break their future. It can help it a little or allow for the team to make some recommendations for improvement. The important thing for all 33 players on the camp roster and four not on the camp roster to keep playing somewhere and to keep improving as players.
This camp will take place on July 10 to July 14 at the RWJ/Barnabas Health Hockey House. Again, there will be practices, drills, sessions, and scrimmages. There should be a full scrimmage at the end of camp on July 14. In any case, now that the roster is released, I want to know what you think of it. Who on this camp roster interests you the most? Do you like the five invitations extended? Does anyone have anything to prove, or is that really more for the Fall? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the development camp and its roster in the comments. Thank you for reading.