The New Jersey Devils 2019 Development Camp begins today July 9 and goes through Saturday July 13. Yesterday, they released their 37 player roster which included 34 of their own players and 3 undrafted invitees. It breaks down to 23 forwards, 10 defensemen, and 4 goaltenders and features 9 out of the 11 players selected in the 2019 draft class. It will be highlighted by #1 overall pick Jack Hughes as well as talented players like Jesper Boqvist and Ty Smith who also feature to play a part in the NHL this upcoming season. You can check out the schedule for camp here though it is not open to the public. I’m sure the Devils will have plenty of coverage on social media though. Let’s take a quick look at this roster.
Forwards (23): Michael McLeod, Nathan Bastian, Brett Seney, Blake Speers, Joey Anderson, Brandon Gignac, Yegor Sharangovich, Mitchell Hoelscher, Fabian Zetterlund, Eetu Pakkila, Marian Studenic, Nikita Popugaev, Tyce Thompson, Mikhail Maltsev, Aarne Talvitie, Nikola Pasic, Nicholas Canade (invite), Tyler Young (invite), Jack Hughes, Danny Weight (invite), Jesper Boqvist, Patrick Moynihan, Graeme Clarke
This large group of forwards includes numerous players with camp and NHL experience in Michael McLeod, Nathan Bastian, Brett Seney, Blake Speers, Joey Anderson, and Brandon Gignac. Brett Seney leads the way with 51 games of NHL experience, all of which came last season as he was a regular player for a decent amount of time. Former 2016 1st round pick Michael McLeod managed to earn 21 NHL games last season though he spent most of the year with Binghamton where he had more success with 33 points in 55 games. His former junior and current AHL teammate Nathan Bastian played in 7 games for the Devils last season but has spent most of the last 2 seasons with Binghamton, putting up 42 points in 126 games. Joey Anderson battled injury in his rookie campaign last season but managed to put up 7 points in 34 NHL games. He’ll be looking to make another good impression on the Devils to show that he deserves a chance to earn a spot once again on the NHL roster this fall. Brandon Gignac has also battled injuries in his young pro career but did make his NHL debut for the Devils last season. He managed 36 points in 66 AHL games last season after putting up just 3 in 21 games in 2017-18 in a shortened season due to a knee injury. Blake Speers has really fallen down the depth chart as his development has stagnated. He made the Devils to star the 2016-17 season but was injured after 3 games. He went back to juniors to finish that season out. His past 2 seasons, spent with Binghamton, have seen him play in a limited role and hardly produce. He is 22 years old now and really needs to make an impact to get his career back on track.
Other players returning for another camp include Yegor Sharangovich, Mitchell Hoelscher, Fabian Zetterlund, Eetu Pakkila, Marian Studenic, Aarne Talvitie, and Jesper Boqvist. Yegor Sharangovich and Marian Studenic spent last season with Binghamton. Sharangovich put up 17 points in 68 games while Studenic had 28 points in 64 games, both as 20 year old rookies at that level. Mitchell Hoelscher is coming off an under the radar solid season for the Ottawa 67’s, the top regular season team in the CHL this past season, with 40 points in 68 regular season OHL games and 13 points in 18 playoff games as a 3rd line center. Aarne Talvitie impressed last season with 16 points in 17 games as a freshman for Penn State. He also captained Finland to a Gold Medal at the WJC with 7 points in 7 games but an injury would see his season end there. He is recovery well but expected to stay off the ice in this camp. Fabian Zetterlund is another player that saw injury shorten his 2018-19 campaign to just 16 SHL games for Farjestad BK. He will turn 20 years old in August and is expected to play for Binghamton in his North American debut this upcoming season. Zetterlund is also expected to do only off ice activities. Eetu Pakkila has produced well at the junior level in Finland and this past spring signed a contract to move from Karpat where he played in the junior ranks to Ilves for top level hockey in Liiga. Finally, Jesper Boqvist is expected to make a big impact at this camp and perhaps even in training camp this fall. The Devils assigned him his number (90) that he wore in the SHL for Brynas IF. Last season, he broke out as a top line wing with 35 points in 51 SHL games as a 20 year old. I expect to see him on the NHL roster this fall.
Making their camp debuts are Nikita Popugaev and Mikhail Maltsev. Popugaev has bounced around a ton between North America and Russia since the Devils drafted him in 2017. He eventually ended up in Binghamton to finish last season with 5 points in 17 games. He did earn himself an AHL contract for this upcoming season. Mikhail Maltsev has spent his career in the SKA St. Petersburg system but has signed and made the move to North America to play for Binghamton this upcoming season. It will be interesting to see how his games transitions over from Russia. Also making their debuts are members of the 2019 draft class in Tyce Thompson, Nikola Pasic, Patrick Moynihan, Graeme Clarke, and the top overall pick in Jack Hughes. I’m sure everyone in the organization will be excited to see Jack Hughes in Devils colors putting his elite skills on display. This should also be a great chance for the 2019 draft class in Tyce Thompson (4th), Nikola Pasic (7th), Patrick Moynihan (6th), and Graeme Clarke (3rd) to get acclimated to the organization.
The 3 invitees to this camp are all forwards in Nicholas Canade, Tyler Young, and Danny Weight. Nicholas Canade is a former youth teammate of Jack Hughes and former OHL teammate of Michael McLeod. The recently turned 19 year old is a 5’9, 160 lbs. left wing with the Mississauga Steelheads in the OHL. Last season he put up 22 points in 63 regular season games in a depth role. He did serve as an alternate captain for the team though. Tyler Young, son of Scott Young, is a 6’1, 165 lbs. right wing that is set to join Providence College in 2020-21. The recently turned 18 year old just had 39 points in 28 games for Lawrence Academy in Prep hockey as well as 33 points in 32 games for Neponset Valley River Rats U18 in Midget hockey. He was drafted by the Omaha Lancers of the USHL and could play this upcoming season with Akira Schmid. Danny Weight, son of Doug Weight, is another recently turned 18 year old that is a 6’0, 185 lbs. forward with a left handed shot. He is another USNTDP product that has played with Jack Hughes, Patrick Moynihan, and Case McCarthy. Last season, Weight had 15 points in 23 USHL games, 6 points in 10 U17 teams, and 17 points in 41 U18 games. I definitely find Young and Weight to be interesting invitees to this camp a little more so than Canade.
Defensemen (10): Ty Smith, Reilly Walsh, Xavier Bernard, Matthew Hellickson, Colton White, Colby Sissons, Jeremy Groleau, Michael Vukojevic, Nikita Okhotyuk, Case McCarthy
Ty Smith, the Devils 1st round pick in 2018, is the biggest name among this group of defensemen as he makes his 2nd camp appearance. The reigning CHL Defenseman of the Year and WHL Top Defenseman put up 69 points in 57 games as co-captain for the Spokane Chiefs last season. Smith has been assigned his junior number (24) which seems to indicate the Devils feel he will be a part of their NHL plans next season (as he should be). Harvard standout and 2017 draft pick Reilly Walsh is set to make his 3rd appearance. He is coming off of a succesful sophomore season for Harvard and is expected to take on an even bigger role this upcoming season. This time next year, Walsh could be in this camp as a player signed to an ELC.
Xavier Bernard, Colton White, Colby Sissons, and Jeremy Groleau are all returning players with prior camp experience. Xavier Bernard has made his mark felt in 187 QMJHL games with his physical style and shot. He split last season between the Drummondville Voltiguers and Charlottetown Islanders and is likely to return to the Islanders for a final season. Colton White has played 2 professional seasons, splitting time between Binghamton in the AHL and Adirondack in the ECHL in 2017-18 and then playing full time for Binghamton in 2018-19. He even managed to earn a 3 game stint with New Jersey in NHL action last season. Colby Sissons split his first pro season between Binghamton and Adirondack last season. Jeremy Groleau was an invited player last season who ended up earning a contract with New Jersey that fall. He just wrapped up a stellar QMJHL career with Chicoutimi Sagueneens and had a small stint with Binghamton last spring. He’ll turn 20 years old in October and should join White and Sissons in Binghamton.
Matthew Hellickson, Michael Vukojevic, Nikita Okhotyuk, and Case McCarthy are set to make their camp debuts. The Devils drafted Matthew Hellickson back in 2017 but the Notre Dame defender hasn’t attended a camp yet. This will be a good opportunity for both sides to get more familiar with each other as he enters his junior season of college hockey. Michael Vukojevic (3rd), Nikita Okhotyuk (2nd), and Case McCarthy (4th) are all picks from the large 2019 draft class.
Goaltenders (4): Gilles Senn, Akira Schmid, Evan Cormier, Cole Brady
Gilles Senn will be attending his 3rd camp since being drafted in 2017. The 23 year old Swiss netminder is set to make the move to North America and play for Binghamton this upcoming season. He’ll be joined in Binghamton by Evan Cormier, a 21 year old former 2016 draft pick, who is set to attend his 3rd camp as well. Cormier had previously attended this camp in 2016 and 2017 but wasn’t here last season as he went unsigned by the organization. As I wrote last week, Cormier was able to bounce back and earn a contract with the Devils last season when the opportunity arose.
The other 2 goaltenders in camp are the Devils likely USHL group. Akira Schmid is set to attend his 2nd camp. The 19 year old Swiss goaltender is coming off of a solid season with the Omaha Lancers that saw him perform as one of the top goaltenders in the USHL. The final goaltender on this roster is recent draft pick Cole Brady who had a solid season for the Janesville Jets in the NAHL last season. He is likely to play for the Fargo Force in the USHL this upcoming season before moving on to Arizona State in the 2020-21.
Not on the Camp Roster (3): Arseni Gritsyuk (LW), Daniil Misyul (D), Yegor Zaitsev (D)
The Russian based prospects aren’t on the camp roster. This isn’t surprising as Yegor Zaitsev hasn’t attended a camp since being drafted in 2017. Arseni Gritsyuk and Daniil Misyul are recent 2019 draft picks but like Zaitsev don’t appear on the roster. I wouldn’t worry about this as these players are getting into shape for their respective training camps with their teams in Russia. I should also note that why he is no longer a Devils prospect, D Jocktan Chainey isn’t on this roster. There seemed to be some speculation that the organization may try to sign him to an AHL deal and an extend him an invite to this camp. However, that hasn’t happened for the former 2017 draft pick.
Now that we’ve gone over the roster, I want to hear your thoughts. What do you think of the three invitees? Are you disappointed that the three Russian based players aren’t able to make it? What about having all of the NCAA prospects in attendance? What are you looking forward to out of this group of prospects? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!