This afternoon, the New Jersey Devils announced three more cuts from training camp. The team has demoted Nikita Okhotiuk to Utica; placed Chase De Leo on waivers for the purposes of being demoted if he cleared; and released Mark Jankowski from his try-out contract. A.J. Greer cleared waivers, so he has been officially demoted to Utica. The New Jersey Devils are now down to 31 players in camp. They have until Monday, October 11, to comply with the 23-man roster limit.
I am not surprised with these decisions. Okhotiuk, like Bahl, did not show much of anything in preseason that warrants a further look at the next level. Chase De Leo was primarily signed for Utica and so that is where he will go if/when he clears waivers tomorrow. As for Jankowski, I am a little surprised he was the first to be released. But he was not much of a factor when he did play. With the ascendancy of Dawson Mercer and the team keeping Jesper Boqvist around, the veteran center became the odd man out.
Here is who is left in camp:
Forwards (18): Jack Hughes, Yegor Sharangovich, Janne Kuokkanen, Tomas Tatar, Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, Pavel Zacha, Dawson Mercer, Alexander Holtz, Andreas Johnsson, Miles Wood, Michael McLeod, Marian Studenic, Tyce Thompson, Jesper Boqvist, Mason Geertsen, Jimmy Vesey (PTO), Frederik Gauthier (PTO)
Defensemen (9): Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Greaves, P.K. Subban, Ty Smith, Damon Severson, Jonas Sigenthaler, Christian Jaros, Colton White, Tyler Wotherspoon (PTO)
Goaltenders (4): Mackenzie Blackwood, Jonathan Bernier, Scott Wedgewood, Akira Schmid
With the waiver time now set at 2 PM ET, expect to see many more players placed on waivers this weekend. If the Devils want to re-assign White, Geertsen, and/or Wedgewood to Utica, then they will need to do this. The waiver period is 24 hours so anyone who needs to be off the roster by Monday needs to be placed on waivers at 2 PM on Sunday at the latest. The Devils could make some “paper moves” to buy some time if needed. I do not think they will need to do so.
That said, they will need to make some decisions based on some unclear information. Blackwood was held out of what would have been last night’s game due to an inconclusive COVID-19 test. For someone who does not want to be a distraction, I find this distracting. It also explains why the Devils still have four goalies on the roster. The health statuses of Smith and Severson will determine whether Jaros and/or White are on the opening night’s roster. The practice lines on from earlier today suggest Holtz is on the outside while Geertsen and Vesey are in. Which I think is a bad decision as Geertsen provides nothing much of value and Vesey has not really done a whole lot in my eyes to warrant a contract. I think he will get one due to usage, but I have been whelmed by his play in the past two weeks. I can buy Holtz starting in Utica but at the expense of those two would be poor. At the least, Mercer appears to be more likely to make the team with each day - and with Zacha as a winger instead of a center.
Of course, plenty can and will change within the next three days. The Devils have to cut at least 8 players (and no more than 11) by 5 PM ET on Monday. My personal guess is that it will be Wedgewood (barring Blackwood being out due to COVID-19), Schmid, Wotherspoon, Gauthier, Thompson, White (assuming Severson is good to go for Friday), and Geertsen. We shall see if I am right or not. Please leave your guesses as to who the final cuts will be in the comments. Thank you for reading.