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First Cuts of New Jersey Devils Training Camp; Team Down to 49 Players

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Earlier today, the New Jersey Devils announced their first set of cuts from training camp. Colton Phinney was released from a tryout and four players were re-assigned in the system. This bit of news also touches on Nikita Popugaev being traded in the MHL.

2018 NHL Draft - Portraits
Xavier Bernard did not make New Jersey this year. He has been re-assigned to his major junior team, Drummondville.
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Earlier this afternoon, the New Jersey Devils announced their first set of cuts from their training camp. According to the official website, five players were released from the camp roster with four players being re-assigned:

Today, the New Jersey Devils assigned F Mitch Hoelscher to Ottawa (OHL) and D Xavier Bernard to Drummondville (QMJHL). In addition, F Ryan Schmelzer and D Tariq Hammond have been assigned to Binghamton (AHL) and G Colton Phinney has been released from his PTO.

The cuts should not be that big of a surprise as none of these players were even involved in either preseason game yesterday. The Devils split their squads, so these were the extra players in camp. Colton Phinney was invited just to have another goaltender around for initial practices and scrimmages. He was never in the team’s plans. Ryan Schmelzer and Tariq Hammond are on AHL deals anyway, so they really could not make New Jersey at all. Mitch (or Mitchell) Hoelscher and Xavier Bernard do not have entry level contracts. Plus, these recent draft picks will benefit by starting with their respective teams in major junior. Not to seem cruel, but this set of cuts was just to trim the camp roster a bit.

The Devils have three more preseason games in North America. While I think Monday night was good for some of the “bubble players,” I also think you can take an educated guess at Binghamton’s roster right now and end up being mostly correct. The next two games are local, so they may still feature some AHLers and guys on the fringe of making the NHL roster in key spots. But don’t be too shocked if there is another set of cuts after either game. All the more reason to pay attention to what’s happening.

To beef up this set of news, I will also share a bit of prospect news. According to Russian Prospects (@RUSProspects) on Twitter, Nikita Popugaev was traded to the HC Amur organization recently. Their MHL club, HC Amur Tigers, confirmed the deal on their official Twitter account. It was a deal that brought defenseman Denis Nedilko to the CSKA Moscow organization. What does this mean for Popugaev? Hopefully more minutes. He started the KHL season with CSKA’s MHL squad. Maybe he will have more room for growth at Amur? We’ll see.