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New Jersey Devils Make Three Smaller Free Agency Signings

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The New Jersey Devils continued their first day of the free agency period by signing three players to two-way contracts. This article takes a look at who each player is.

Buffalo Sabres v Washington Capitals
Matt Tennyson, seen here with the Buffalo Sabres, is one of three players that have been signed by the Devils.
Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images

The New Jersey Devils sent out the release below just about an hour ago:

We knew the team would be making some moves to bolster their minor league depth, and these seem to be some of those moves. Joining the organization are forward Ben Street, and defenders Matt Tennyson and Dakota Mermis; let’s take a brief look at all three:

Ben Street

Street is an AHL journeyman who has been around the professional leagues for quite some time at 32 years of age. He spent his time last season split between the Anaheim Ducks and their minor league affiliate, the San Diego Gulls. While his AHL point totals have always been very good (check Elite Prospects if you don’t believe me), he’s only seen 56 totals NHL games in his career, and only registered 8 points, with 5 of them coming from his 21 games in Anaheim this season.

Street seems to be the definition of a “Quadruple A” hockey player; dominant in the highest level of the minors, but just not productive enough at the NHL level. The good news is that he will bring experience and scoring ability to a Binghamton club that will benefit from both.

Matt Tennyson

Tennyson is a bit younger than Street at 29, and he has bounced around the league a bit less, as the Devils mark the fourth organization of his professional career. His past couple of seasons in the Sabres system has seen him spend more time in the AHL than NHL, and for a big (6’2”) right-shooting defender that’s not a good sign, particularly because right handed defenders are such a commodity in the league.

He has served as an alternate captain in both Rochester and Charlotte, so he will bring leadership to the table, and he’s capable of chipping in some points here and there as well.

Courtesy of Evolving-Hockey

He is, as the above chart shows however, essentially a below-replacement piece at the NHL level. With four right-handed defenders already in Jersey (Subban, Severson, Vatanen and Carrick) Tennyson’s place should be firmly entrenched in the AHL.

Dakota Mermis

Mermis is the youngest player on this list at just 25 years of age; he’s also the player who has moved around the least so far, as he has spent all of his professional time with the Arizona Coyotes organization, mostly with Tuscon Roadrunners (and the Springfield Falcons prior to their move to Tucson to become the Roadrunners) in the AHL. Mermis has only 10 NHL games to his name with no points yet recorded in his career.

I feel this move is to fill out/refresh the Binghamton roster and also to see if Mermis will ever be anything at the NHL level. Hi sample size so far is too small to make anything of it, but he has also not yet hit the age at which defenders usually hit their prime. While he may only wind up being a bottom pairing player, it would be better that (or having him as a top AHL guy) than nothing. There’s enough lefties ahead of him on the depth chart though that I don’t think he sees anything other than AHL time this season.

One Final Note

Earlier today, the Binghamton Devils announced that they re-signed forward Ryan Schmelzer to a one year deal. The forward spent his rookie season in Binghamton last year where he contributed 14 goals and 10 assists in 66 games. At 25 years of age, he may wind up being an AHL only player, but it will be interesting to see if he develops further and if he can help bring success to the B-Devils.

Your Take

We have three NHL contract signings that will see the players paid differently depending upon where they play this season, and one AHL contract signing of a player who was a fairly large part of last year’s team. What do you think of these depth deals? Are you excited that they could be aiding the B-Devils? Do you think any of the three signed by New Jersey see any NHL time this season? Leave any and all comments below.