Category Archives: NHL Draft

A Look Ahead at the 2013 NHL Draft

Official 2013 NHL Draft LogoAs I’m sure you’ve all heard, the New Jersey Devils will be hosting the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center on June 30. What does this mean for the New Jersey Devils and the New Jersey area? What is different about this year’s draft? Who’s projected to be drafted first, and who will the Devils draft? Let’s take a look, shall we?

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Game 4: New Jersey Devils at Montreal Canadiens

New Jersey Devils vs Montreal Canadiens

Match-Up

The Devils are entering tonight’s contest 3-0-0, despite needing overtime to beat the Washington Capitals.  The Montreal Canadiens are entering this game 2-1-0 and we all know this is going to be another exciting game to watch, as most are when we head to Montreal.  Last season the Devils won the season series 3-1, and Martin Brodeur shined as always when he visits his hometown.  This season the Devils will only play the Canadiens three times, and this is the only time up in Montreal.

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Research and DEVILopment

School is almost back in session as summer vacation draws to a close. This is no different for the National Hockey League.

Starting up is the return of the Research, Development and Orientation camp which will be used to test potential changes to the game. Changes that will be tested will include very subtle, almost unnoticed, changes, to the more, “Oh my gosh, did the barber use a weed-whacker on your hair?” changes.

If you ever wanted to know how today’s game would be played if they didn’t have the Brodeur Rule (that little trapezoid behind the net), this is exactly what they will be testing at the camp.

The NHL will have the two past Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year) winners– Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma and Phoenix’s Dave Tippett — serving as mentors for the young prospects. Not only will the camp serve as a testing ground for potential rule changes, but the camp will also allow teams to take a look at possible 2012 prospects. In total, 36 prospects eligible for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft will be participating in the camp.

Now, I know you’re thinking to yourself, “What kind of rule changes could they possibly be testing?” Let me ease your mind.

1) Trapezoid Rule – The rule was introduced post-lockout as a way to increase scoring. The rule limits goaltenders from leaving the crease to go play a puck in the corners. As a Devils fan, I absolutely detest the rule. Martin Brodeur is noted as one of the greatest puck-handling goalies of all-time. He would always come out of the crease, play the puck in the corner, and lunge it down ice to a streaking player. However, with the trapezoid rule, Brodeur is restricted into staying in his little blue zone in front of the net. Many teams favor this rule because they have very, poor puck-handling goaltenders. The trapezoid limits player movement on the ice, which is not what the game is about. Players should be able to skate and play the puck wherever they want. I won’t even get into the fact that goalies can’t skate over the red-line.

2) No Icing While Shorthanded – While it seems like a good idea to allow shorthanded teams to just heave a puck down the ice since they’re down one or two players, it’s really not. Hockey is supposed to be a game of skill and action. Shooting a puck down ice to clear time off the penalty kill is BORING. What’s being tested at the RDO camp is that the team actually has to play defense. If teams want to be able to dump it into the opposing zone, they must take it past the red-line and dump, just like a regular shift. This will showcase a team’s strong/weak defense since they will actually have to gain possession of the puck and carry it out. Many are mixed on this rule as the NHL gave powerplay teams a sizeable advantage a couple of years ago, when they stated that at the start of a powerplay, the faceoff will be in the offensive zone.

3) Overtime Variations – Every day, I hear people complaining about the shooutout at the end of overtime, and how you would never see a baseball game end in a home run derby, or basketball end in a slam dunk contest. People complain that the shootout takes away that special edge from penalty shots. Hey, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. I, personally, enjoy shootouts. Always have, always will. But let’s try this on for size, shall we. What if there’s a tie after regulation and teams play FOUR minutes of 4-on-4 hockey. No one scores, still tied. Instead of going to a shootout right away, it would be a THREE minute period of 3-on-3 hockey. I would LOVE to see 3-on-3 hockey. There wouldn’t be clusters of players on the ice, wide-open range to skate and set up plays. The league wants to see fast-paced action and high scoring, 3-on-3 is an awesome addition to OT. If no one scores after the 3-on-3, it would go to a shootout. Also, the league is testing out the possibility of switching ends at the end of regulation. For example, third period a team is shooting left to right, that team would shoot right to left in OT. The league is partial to increasing the time of overtime, that way there might be less shootouts to end the game.

Those are a few of the major changes that the league will be looking into. There are a couple minor things, such as:  referees wearing wireless headsets to relay information to each other during a game, and the “bear hug rule.” The bear hug rule, introduced by Brian Burke, would allow players to wrap their arms around an opposing player to take him into the boards as opposed to violently throwing him into the boards, thus reducing injury.

Which rule changes would you like to see implemented into the game? Leave a comment with your favorite rule change, or add a suggestion of your own!

Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevinlankey

2011 Off-Season Review: Atlantic Division

There is no way of knowing at this present time how the decisions made by all 30 teams in the NHL this off-season will affect the outcome of the 2011-2012 season. I personally believe the time we’ll be able to tell is the trading deadline when we see what teams are sellers and buyers.

We’ve hit a point in the off-season in which we all feel…what’s the word….blah. All the big free agents have been signed, the Jets have revealed their Royal Canadian Air Force logo, and now we sit and wait for Teemu Selanne to decide if he’s going to play hockey this season. Just sitting, twiddling our thumbs and waiting. With such a quiet mode, this is a great time to look at what has happened so far this off-season and look into the upcoming season.

First we will take a look at the most competitive division in hockey, in my opinion, the Atlantic Division.

 NEW JERSEY DEVILS

Last season: 38-39-5, 81 points (fourth place Atlantic, 11th place Eastern)
Additions: Eric Boulton, LW; Cam Janssen, RW; Pete DeBoer, HC
Subtractions: Pierre Luc-Letourneau Leblond, LW; Anssi Salmela, D; Brian Rolston LW; Trent Hunter RW; Colin White D
Up-and-comers: Adam Larsson, D; Adam Henrique, C/W; Alexander Urbom, D; Jacob Josefson, C; Nick Palmieri, RW; Matthew Corrente, D; Mark Fayne, D

One of the many objectives this off-season for the Devils was to find a new head coach. The role has been filled. Stop sending in applications.

Pete DeBoer has been placed in charge of making sure a chunk of Devils prospects are ready to be full-time NHL’ers. DeBoer, coming off a stint as Panthers head coach for three seasons, has never made it into the postseason, but he kept a young Panthers team in contention.

Devils fans got their wish this off-season as the team was able to “steal” defenseman Adam Larsson at fourth overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Many thought, at the beginning of the season, Larsson was going to be going number one overall, but a late season surges by other players allowed Larsson to drop to the Devils. Many say Larsson is NHL ready, but with the way Lou Lamierllo operates the organization, he could see some time at Albany (AHL).

The one thing that many Devils fans hoped would be over quickly—and after the Kovalchuk saga last year who can blame them—is the re-signing of Zach Parise. Parise was re-signed to a one-year deal that will cost the Devils $6-million. Fans had hoped he would sign a long term deal; however, arbitration was quickly approaching and both sides agreed a one-year deal was the best way to go about this, for now. Parise and the Devils can continue to negotiate a new contract, but he cannot sign a new long-term deal until January 1, 2012.

Luckily, the Devils were able to shed some cap space and help the Islanders reach the cap floor as they sent Brian Rolston to the Island, shedding his $5-million cap hit.

Just days after the trade, the Devils waived Hunter, and defenseman Colin White. If the two clear waivers on Tuesday at Noon, Lamoriello said the two will be bought out. If bought out, the salary cup hit for White will be $1-million per year for the next two seasons, while Hunter’s will be $666,667 per season for the next four seasons. With White gone, there will only be two members on the team with Stanley Cup rings: Martin Brodeur and Patrik Elias.

 PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

Last season: 47-23-12, 106 points (first place Atlantic, second place Eastern Conference)
Additions: Ilya Bryzgalov, G; Jaromir Jagr, RW; Jakub Voracek, RW; Wayne Simmonds, RW; Brayden Schenn, C; Maxime Talbot, C; Andreas Lilja, D
Subtractions: Mike Richards, C; Jeff Carter, C; Ville Leino, LW; Nikolay Zherdev, RW; Darroll Powe, C;Kris Versteeg, RW; Daniel Carcillo, LW; Sean O’Donnell, D; Brian Boucher, G
Up-and-comers: Sean Couturier, C; Ben Holmstrom, C; Eric Wellwood, LW; Mike Testwuide, RW; Erik Gustafsson, D

The team that questioned my sanity the most this offseason was the Philadelphia Flyers. Trading one of their top goal scorers in Jeff Carter and their captain in Mike Richards on the SAME day. No one knew what the Flyers had up their sleeves with those moves. I asked ESPN personality John Buccigross on Twitter what the Flyers had up their sleeves and he responded, “They dumped everything out of their sleeves.”

The trades allowed Paul Holmgren to acquire mediocre wingers, in Voracek and Simmonds, and two centers who have the ability to become franchise players. One is Brayden Schenn who was acquired in the Richards trade, the other was first-round draft pick, eighth overall, Sean Couturier. The draft pick was traded to the Flyers as part of the deal that sent Jeff Carter to Columbus.

The Flyers lost their captain and great defensive part of their game in Richards. As said, Schenn can eventually become the face of the franchise, but there is no way of knowing if he will become that type of player this coming season.

Flyers fan, James Iannizzotto isn’t worried about the team’s offense, “The explosive offense that Giroux and JVR showed towards the end of last year will make up for the absence of Richards and Carter. “

At least the Flyers got their goaltending situation under control. Trading for the rights of Ilya Bryzgalov and resigning him before July 1. The one thing I’m confused about is, the Flyers said Sergei Bobrovsky is their goalie of the future; however, the Flyers signed Bryzgalov to a nine year deal. What is going to become of Bobrovsky?

This off-season also saw the return of Jaromir Jagr. The Flyers signed the former all-star to a one-year deal worth over $3-million. While I think Jagr is still a decent player, he hasn’t played a full NHL season in over three years. Who knows what to expect of Jagr? I do know, however, Penguins/Flyers games will be fun to watch.

 PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

Last season: 49-25-8, 106 points (second place Atlantic, fourth place Eastern)
Additions: Steve Sullivan, LW; Steve MacIntyre, LW; Alexandre Picard, D
Subtractions: Maxime Talbot, C; Michael Rupp, C/W; Chris Conner, RW; Alex Kovalev, RW; Eric Godard, RW; Mike Comrie, C
Up-and-comers: Eric Tangradi, LW; Simon Despres, C

The Penguins were originally one of the front-runners in the Jagr negotiations, but it obviously didn’t work out. The Penguins didn’t travel too far out of the igloo to acquire free agents after the situation.

The two players that Penguins fans are eagerly waiting to see put on a Penguins sweater in training camp are Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. You may have heard of them.

Crosby missed the final half of the season last year with a concussion. Malkin is expected to be fully recovered from knee surgery that cut his season short in February. While they are two of the top players in the league, you never know what to expect out of a player after they return from injury.

The signings of Sullivan, MacIntyre and Picard shouldn’t be viewed as, “that’s all the Penguins did this off-season?” These signings were to add depth to an already skilled team. Remember, this team had A LOT of injuries to close out the season and they still finished second in the division (tied with the Flyers for first, but lost the tiebreaker). Expect the Penguins to be a threat, again.

 NEW YORK RANGERS

Last season: 44-33-5, 93 points (third place Atlantic, eighth place Eastern)
Additions: Brad Richards, C; Michael Rupp, C/W
Subtractions: Chris Drury, C; Vinny Prospal, C; Alex Frolov, LW; Matt Gilroy, D; Bryan McCabe, D
Up-and-comers: Pavel Valentenko, D; Dylan McIlrath, D; Tim Erixon, D; Christian Thomas, RW, Dale Weise, RW

Goodbye, Chris Drury. Hello new number one center, Mike Rupp.

Just kidding.

Brad Richards signed a nine year, $60-million deal to become the team center the team has desperately been searching for to pair up with Marian Gaborik. Fans hope the two immediately “click” and become one of the fiercest dynamic-duo’s in Gotham City.

Sahil Patel, a longtime Rangers fan, said, “I’m cautiously optimistic that they will connect because Richards is an elite playmaker and knows how to get the puck to where the sniper wants it and Gaborik works best when he is free of the puck is able to skate around and find his spots.”

The Rangers were able to avoid arbitration with two of their core players, Brendan Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan. The two are pivotal parts of the Rangers future. Dubinsky has gotten better in each season that he has played, and losing Callahan at the end of the season really hurt the Rangers chances.

The Rangers offense seems to be stable, but what about their defense.

Steve Eminger will lead a defense filled with youngsters Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, and Ryan McDonagh, Mike Sauer and Michael Del Zotto.

One Rangers supporter, Tony Grater, is hopeful for the defense this season, “Girardi and Staal are as solid as it gets, but if Sauer and McDonagh regress, we could be in trouble. But I have faith that they will be fine and develop further.”

 NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Last season: 30-39-13, 73 points (fifth place Atlantic; 14th place Eastern)
Additions: Marty Reasoner, C; Brian Rolston RW
Subtractions: Bruno Gervais, D; Rob Schremp, C; Radek Martinek, D; Doug Weight, C; Zenon Konopka, C; Jesse Joensuu, LW
Up-and-comers: Nino Niederreiter, RW; Calvin de Haan, D; Ryan Strome, C

The Islanders will continue to their rebuilding phase this season. Shocker.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe the Islanders can be a playoff team, but a team that needs to try to persuade a player—whose contract they’re still trying to pay off—to come back to play for them just so that they can reach the cap floor, cannot be taken seriously.

At least the islanders were able to acquire Brian Rolston from the Devils. He’ll be a top-6 forward for the Islanders. Totally worth the $5-milion cap hit. Right? Good luck.

No worries. The Bridgeport Sound Tigers, of the American Hockey League, will have a stacked, young team this season. The AHL is where you will find most of the Islanders prospects. If they’re not there, you can always look in major junior hockey.

Ryan Strome, the teams first round, fifth overall, draft pick, reached YouTube stardom with a shootout goal during the team’s development camp. Sadly, many feel Strome might be a year away from being NHL ready.

The only thing guiding hope for Isles fans are the hopeful, healthy returns of Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo. This, behind the offense of Tavares, Grabner and Moulson, are the only good things the Islanders have going for them at the moment.

The Islanders did trade for Christian Ehrhoff and tried to sign him before he became an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

James Harding, a local Islanders enthusiast, said, “I was very, although pleasantly, surprised when they traded for Erhoff, and was glad that they made the effort that they did to add a top quality, top pair defenseman who just captained the powerplay of the Western Conference champs.”

Isles GM, Garth Snow, gave a self-imposed one day deadline to say Ehrhoff. Unable to strike a deal, Ehrhoff was traded to Buffalo where he was eventually signed.

The Islanders didn’t make any big moves this season, nor will they make any big moves any time soon.

Islanders fan, Jimmy Ventura said, “Until we get a new building, free agents do not want to come.”

Interesting enough, Long Island does have a vote coming up on August 1st to see if the Islanders will get a new arena.

Personally, I believe while the Islanders have impressive offense, their weak, young defense (which will eventually help them) will come back to haunt them. Ironic, no?

Follow Kevin Lankey on Twitter: @kevinlankey


And the New Jersey Devils select… Adam Larsson!

New Jersey Devils NHL Draft Party 2011What a roller coaster year this has been for us Devils fans. First with the terrible start to the season. Then an uplifting second half with high hopes to get back in the playoff race. Finding, that despite our team never giving up, those hopes are just slightly out of reach. And finally, winning the draft pick lottery, and rising in the ranks to the number 4 spot! For the first time in what seemed like an eternity, the hockey gods blessed us against the odds.

Whatever deities we pleased, apparently were still smiling upon us on June 24th. There was no doubt that the Devils Army was hoping we would snatch up Adam Larsson. The fans packed Lafayette Street along side the Prudential Center to celebrate draft day and those fans who were working checked their phones feverishly for updates. The crowd went through a similar roller coaster of emotions when the teams finally started making their picks – moments of silence followed by cheering and sighs of relief when Adam Larsson was not selected. Our turn finally came, and lo and behold the best puck moving defenseman in the draft was still up for grabs! Everyone exploded with excitement, we got Larsson!

I couldn’t have been more excited that Adam Larsson would be joining us in New Jersey! Reported to be one of the top skaters in the European leagues, and coming in at a solid 6′ 3″ and 220 lbs, he is physically ready and able to join the pros. With his puck moving and smart decision making skills, he has the potential to fill what many feel is a much needed vacancy in our defensive line-up.

I am looking forward to this season getting underway so I can check out his playing style! If he’s anything like our other Swedish players (especially our little fire cracker, Tedenby), I have a feeling I’m going to like what I see!

What was YOUR reaction to our draft day excitement?

2011 NHL Draft Prospect Preview: Gabriel Landeskog

LandeskogThree of the Devils’ last four first round picks have been forwards from Sweden. So if Director of Scouting David Conte calls Stockholm native Gabriel Landeskog to the stage on June 24, one may be tempted to expect more of the same. However, Landeskog is a much different player than his countrymen, and actually fits the profile of a typical Canadian or American player.

Landeskog began his hockey career with Djurgårdens IF, the same club where current Devils prospects Jacob Josefson and Alexander Urbom got their starts. But after just two seasons, he left Sweden for the Ontario Hockey League and has played for the Kitchener Rangers ever since. As a result, the 6’0, 201 lb right-winger will go into this year’s draft as a North American player, and is second to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, not Adam Larsson, in Central Scouting’s final rankings.

The Devils are already very well stocked up front, but Landeskog has some unique qualities to his game that may allow him to climb up the depth chart fairly quickly. He is a skilled offensive player, but loves to play an aggressive and physical game. In 53 regular season contests with Kitchener, he scored 36 goals and 30 assists for 66 points while racking up 61 penalty minutes and three fighting majors in the process.

Landeskog had a strong showing in the playoffs as well. Although the Rangers were unable to get past the first round, he recorded six goals and four assists in a series that went to seven games. He was also selected to Sweden’s World Junior team this past winter, and was named an alternate captain, but played only one game due to a high-ankle sprain. He did, however, tally a goal and an assist in that game.

In the intangibles department, Landeskog has it all. He is a natural leader who can spark his team with his strong work ethic and intensity. He is also very well spoken, without a hint of an accent, and makes his presence known on the bench and in the locker room. Often compared to former Kitchener Ranger and current Philadelphia Flyers’ captain Mike Richards, he was handed the “C” as a 17-year-old, and could find himself wearing a letter early on in his professional career.

By all aspects, Landeskog is the most NHL-ready prospect in this year’s draft. He already possesses the build, maturity, and talent to play in the NHL. If he does land in New Jersey, it’s certainly possible that he’ll be on the Devils’ opening night roster. He may start out on the third or fourth line, but he could compliment scoring wingers such as Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise on the top two lines in the future.

Regular Season Playoffs
SEASON TEAM Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2008-09 DIF SEL 3 0 1 1 2 2
2009-10 KR OHL
61 24 22 46 51 0 20 8 15 23 18
2010-11 KR
OHL
53 36 30 66 61 27 7 6 4 10 4
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