This week is the annual Development Camp for the New Jersey Devils. This is a week where the recently draft prospects plus some invited players get together to work out, do drills, have some scrimmages, and show off a bit for the fans - the People Who Matter. As per the Devils’ official website, there will be a 3-on-3 competition at 5:30 PM on July 12, a Red vs. White scrimmage at 10 AM on July 14 (which will be streamed on the Devils’ website), and both are open to Black and Red season ticket members that RSVP’ed their spot.
From a hockey and season preparation standpoint, this week is not going to decide anything. It is just to get players on the ice in Newark and get them working with the coaching staff. The real battle for jobs, or a contract in some cases, will come later when training camp comes around. And a prospect tournament, such as the Prospect Challenge the Devils have been a part of in last years.
To that end, I would not worry so much about who was or was not invited, or who or who is not here. Especially for the college prospects. My understanding is that the NCAA does allow players to attend camps like this one but as long as the team does not cover their cost of attending. Not everyone can therefore attend. That said, there are a number of college-based prospects at this camp and helpfully fills out the group.
Who is attending? Here’s the roster according to the Devils’ official Twitter account.
Forwards (18): Lenni Hämeenaho, Cole Brown, Cam Squires, Xavier Parent, Filip Engaras, Artem Shlaine, Cam Recchi, Josh Filmon, Luke Grainger, Ondrej Psenicka, Petr Hauser, Chase Stillman, Samu Salminen, Erik Middendorf, Jaromir Pytlik, Timur Ibragimov, Will Dineen, Owen Fowler
Defensemen (11): Topias Vilén, Ethan Edwards, Tim Rego, Seamus Casey, Brendan Fitzgerald, Viktor Hurtig, Spencer Cox, Chase Cheslock, Luke Row, Charlie Leddy, Santeri Hatakka
Goaltenders (4): Tyler Brennan, Isaac Poulter, Cole Brady, Jakub Málek
This is a large camp filled with plenty of the Devils’ prospects. I am surprised and heartened to see a couple of the European-based players like Hauser, Pytlik, and Malek. The only missing players are those based in the KHL (Misyul - who is signed to an ELC, Gritsyuk, Orlov, Barabosha, Bardakov, Zaitsev, Karpovich) and collegiate prospects Case McCarthy and Patrick Moynihan. I would not read too much into that since, again, this is a week-long development camp. Jobs and futures will not necessarily be defined here. Although, I will point out that if you were expecting Luke Hughes, Simon Nemec, Nolan Foote, Alexander Holtz, or Graeme Clarke, then you should instead expect them at the team’s camps in September. This is usually filled by the recently drafted players, minor leaguers, and some invited bodies. Here is a quick breakdown of who’s who and where they were as of last season.
The AHL/ECHL Signed (4, 3 F, 1 G): Xavier Parent (C, Utica, AHL), Isaac Poulter (G, Utica, AHL), Filip Engarås (C, Utica, AHL), Erik Middendorf (LW, Michigan State, Big 10 & Adirondack, ECHL)
If Engarås and Middendorf seem unfamiliar to you, then those were acquisitions last season by the AHL team. Engarås was acquired in a trade with Bakersfield for Garrett Van Whye. Middendorf was signed by Adirondack in March after he finished up at college.
The Acquired (2, 1 F 1 D): Santeri Hatakka (LD, San Jose, AHL, acquired in Meier trade - yet to debut for Utica, ELC), Timur Ibragimov (LW, Utica, acquired in Meier trade, AHL contract)
2023 Drafted Prospects (5, 4 F, 1 D): Lenni Hämeenaho (RW, Ässät, Liiga), Cam Squires (RW, Cape Breton, QMJHL), Chase Cheslock (RD, Omaha, USHL, St. Cloud, NAHL, & Rogers, Minnesota High School), Cole Brown (LW/RW, Hamilton, OHL)
2022 Drafted Prospects (5, 2 F, 2 D, 1 G): Seamus Casey (RD, Michigan, Big 10), Tyler Brennan (G, Prince George, WHL, ELC), Charlie Leddy (RD, Boston College, Hockey East), Petr Hauser (RW, HC Sparta Praha, Czech Extraliga & HC Banik Sokolv, Czechia-2), Josh Filmon (LW, Swift Current, WHL & Utica, AHL, ELC)
2021 Drafted Prospects (5, 2 F, 2 D, 1 G): Chase Stillman (RW, Peterborough, OHL, ELC), Samu Salminen (C, UConn, Hockey East), Jakub Málek (G, Ilves, Liiga & KOOVEE, Mestis), Topias Vilén (LD, Pelicans, Liiga & Utica, AHL, ELC), Viktor Hurtig (RD, Michigan State, Big 10)
2020 Drafted Prospects (3, 2 F, 1 D): Jaromir Pytlik (C, Rytiri Kladno, Czech Extraliga), Ethan Edwards (LD, Michigan, Big 10), Artem Shlaine (C, Northern Michigan, CCHA)
2019 Drafted Prospect (1, 1 G): Cole Brady (G, UMass-Amherst, Hockey-East)
This means the Devils invited five forwards and four defensemen. Three of them are sons of people you likely know. Here is a quick rundown on each of those players. Maybe this is the only time they touch a NHL camp. Maybe they are here to fill out the roster. Maybe they get a look in the distant future. All the same, it is interesting to learn a little about.
Invited Forwards (5): Cam Recchi, Luke Grainger, Ondřej Pšenička, Will Dineen, Owen Fowler
Cam Recchi, C/LW, St. Thomas, CCHA - This is one of Mark Recchi’s sons. Born on May 24, 2001, he’s 22 and stands at 5’10” and 165 pounds. He bounced around various Junior leagues from 2018-19 to 2020-21 (Saskatchewan, USHL, NAHL, British Columbia) to maintain college eligibility. He is a member of St. Thomas, a recent arrival to D-I hockey in the NCAA. With a career total of 7 goals and 25 points in 70 games, Recchi is a guy in their lineup. He is also not the only family-related invite to this year’s camp.
Luke Grainger, F, Western Michigan, NCHC - Grainger is one of the oldest players at this camp as he will turn 24 in less than two months. He became a Bronco in 2020-21 and just finished up his junior season. After a combined 12 goals and 22 points in his first two seasons, he put up 12 goals and 32 points as a junior last season. A nice improvement to put him third on the team in scoring behind three drafted players (Ryan McAllister, Florida, Jason Polin, Colorado, Max Sasson, Vancouver). As he is a senior, he could be on the Devils’ or Comet’s (or someone else’s) radar as a UDFA signing if his senior season shows any promise.
Ondřej Pšenička, RW, Cornell, ECAC - Born on January 7, 2001, this 22-year old Cornell Big Red is massive. He is listed at EP at 6’6” and 209 pounds. After developing in the Sparta Praha system, he jumped to Waterloo in the USHL in 2019-20 to go to college. He chose Cornell, where he has a career total of 20 goals and 36 points in 66 games over the last two seasons. At a glance, he appears to be in the middle of the Big Red lineup.
Will Dineen, F, Yale, ECAC - Kevin Dineen’s son is a Bulldog. He stands at 6’2” and 194 pounds and he is 22, turning 23 in November. After not very productive seasons in the USHL but being the captain of Sioux Falls in 2020-21, he has been a depth player for Yale. In 49 combined games over the last two seasons, Dineen has six goals and 18 points. Again, he fills out the roster.
Owen Fowler, LW, UMass-Lowell, Hockey East - Fowler is a 5’10”, 190 pound winger who just finished his freshman year at UMass-Lowell after two seasons and three seasons in the USHL (Des Moines, Omaha, Sioux City). He put up five goals and 12 points in his first season of college hockey. I am sure he is aiming for a higher role in this coming season; this appearance helps fill out the roster.
Invited Defensemen (4): Tim Rego, Brendan Fitzgerald, Spencer Cox, Luke Rowe
Tim Rego, RD, Cornell, ECAC - Rego is 22 and stands at 6’0” and 174 pounds. He had a curious jump from Prep Hockey in 2017-18 and 2018-19 to Brooks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. The Cornell committ made his debut in 2021-22 and he just finished his second season with the Big Red. The numbers are not so impressive with 4 goals and 20 points over 65 games in two seasons. Still, it appears he has been a reliable part of the Cornell set-up.
Brendan Fitzgerald, D, Cedar Rapids, USHL - You know his dad, Tom. He is the GM. It is indeed a hockey family with Ryan and Casey also being hockey players. Not to mention his cousins include the Hayes (Jimmy and Kevin) and the Tkachuks (Matthew, Brady, Keith). Anyway, Brendan will join the University of New Hampshire in 2023-24. He spent the last two seasons with Cedar Rapids, putting up a total of 8 goals and 55 points in 101 games as a defender. His shot count of 142 suggests he’s an offensive player. We shall see whether Brendan measures up in Hockey East. The bloodlines suggest he has a shot.
Spencer Cox, LD, Long Island University, Independent - Standing at 6 feet and 185 pounds, Cox comes from West Chester, Pennsylvania and is likely the first LIU Shark to be associated with the Devils. Even if it is a camp invite. Long Island joined D-I hockey not that long ago and so Spencer Cox was on one of their earliest teams to play at this level. With 8 goals and 33 points over 68 games, he at least contributed more than a little with the Sharks. In fact, he was on their Rookie of the Season in 2021-22. Cox has since transferred to Miami (of Ohio) University for what will be his junior season.
Luke Rowe, RD, Air Force, AHA - Rowe is a local as he was born in Succasunna and did some his youth hockey with the New Jersey Rockets. He joined Air Force in 2019-20 and has developed into an offensive player for their blueline. So much so that he finished second on the team in scoring with 7 goals and 24 points. Of course, he’s at Air Force, so he is also a cadet and aims to be a helicopter pilot per his team’s bio. That said, if he performs well as a senior in this coming season, then I wonder if the Devils or Comets see him as a future UDFA.
This is the development camp roster for 2023. Once more: it is just a week-long camp. Jobs are not on the line. I would not worry if a prospect is not here. The ones that are not are understandably under contract in the KHL or MHL or are settled in college hockey already. The goal is to get some work done, get familiar or re-familiar with the coaches, and work on things if/when they are invited to the full camp in a couple of months. What do you think of this year’s Development Camp roster? Are any of the invites interesting to you? Are you going to attend either event? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this roster in the comments. Thank you for reading.