Follow me on Twitter: @a_chauvancy23
As the dog of days of the NHL offseason are upon us, there has been little news with the Devils regarding any further signings or trades. Although activity has been bleak, New Jersey was busy with their development camp featuring the team’s top prospects all of last week. There were a few interesting tidbits, specifically about where the Devils see John Quenneville playing in the NHL.
On Friday afternoon, John Hynes and Binghamton Devils coach, Rick Kowalsky, confirmed that John Quenneville is more comfortable playing wing, and could on either side.
There are a few reasons why this makes sense for the Devils.
As we all know, they have a number of centers in their system. Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique are established NHL centers. They also have Pavel Zacha, Nico Hischier, and Michael McLeod, all of whom are looking to permanently establish themselves down the middle in the NHL. While Zacha and Hischier are also capable of playing wing, they project as NHL centers and given McLeod’s speed, he’d be better off playing down the middle for the Devils.
A lot of Devils forwards are capable of shifting from center to the left wing with Quenneville being one of them. However, it’s a different story on the right side. Kyle Palmieri is the only established right wing who has consistently put up 50+ points the last two seasons. After that, there aren’t a ton of options. Marcus Johansson could get a look there, but he’s said himself he prefers playing on the left side. This could give Quenneville a good opportunity to secure himself a spot on the opening night roster by playing right wing.
Given the Devils lack of depth at right wing, I think it’s a good bet they give John Quenneville a long look there during camp. If we look at their roster, all of Hischier, Henrique, Zacha, Boyle, Miles Wood, Marcus Johansson, and Quenneville can play center, left wing, or both. It’s possible that Quenneville could get pushed out at both positions (center/left wing) given the depth. Considering the openings on the right side, it makes the most sense to give him a fair shot. He’d have to compete with Blake Speers, Nick Lappin, and Stefan Noesen, which isn’t nearly as competitive compared to what he’d have to deal with at center or left wing.
The Devils could use more offense from their right wingers and aside from Kyle Palmieri, Quenneville has the ability to contribute. In 58 games last season, he had 46 points for the Albany Devils, good for a 63-point pace over 80 games. Of course, that doesn’t mean he’ll immediately post similar figures in the NHL, especially as a 21-year old. Having said that, 30-40 points may not be unreasonable for him if everything goes well and he’s paired with suitable line mates.
This is one solution to the lack of depth the Devils have on their right wing and should help them generate a bit more offense from there after Kyle Palmieri. Given Quenneville’s versatility, they can always move him back to center or left wing if he struggles on the right side. At this point, it seems unlikely the Devils will make another acquisition up front, whether it’s a trade or free agent signing. Given where the team is now, it makes sense for both them and Quenneville to give this a shot and if all works out well, they’ll have to no look further than within the organization to give them some depth, which isn’t something that could have been said of the Devils in recent years.