Devils Rookie Challenge Notes

NEWARK, NJ – JULY 14: New Jersey Devils forward Yegor Sharangovich (55) skates during the New Jersey Devils Development Camp scrimmage on July 14, 2018 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Devils are once again going to be a team that relies heavily on young talent. There are plenty of roster spots that are up for competition, so this year’s rookie tournament placed some added pressure on some of the more high profile prospects in attendance. When compared to last year’s showing, the Devils had a much better performance. Besides their opening loss to one of the better prospect pools in hockey, the Sabres, they took care of business. The Penguins aren’t the strongest when it comes to young talent but blowing out the Bruins is fairly impressive.

Here a few quick notes on who impressed over the past weekend.

Ty Smith is very much the real deal. It is possible his ceiling is Scott Niedermayer, and that isn’t an exaggeration. Smith could probably step into the Devils defense and be one of, if not the best, player at transitioning the team to offense. He is as poised as they come when he skates the puck through the neutral zone. Smith’s high IQ leads to him almost never making a mistake with the puck in his own end. He still only has an outside shot of making the team, but Devils fans should be prepared for a star when he does finally step on the ice in Newark.

Michael McLeod has been an enigma since his draft day. He has always been a player with elite tools but without the production to match. However, the McLeod we have seen this summer is the best version of him. He has done everything right, his speed has caused fits for opposing defenses, his added strength has made him a beast in the corners, and finally, he has begun to break out on the score sheet. He had two goals against the Bruins so hopefully, this is a precursor for training camp. With his combination of speed and work ethic McLeod would fit right in with the Devils.

Brett Seney continues to impress with his speed and offensive creativity. He is another player who fits the Devils mold, extremely fast with a great work ethic. Seney is a dark horse for the opening night roster with his speed. But even if he starts in the AHL, it is more than likely he gets a shot in New Jersey at some point this season.

-Earlier in the summer I wrote that Yegor Sharangovich looked like a pro hockey player. This tournament further solidified that claim. Sharangovich isn’t a flashy guy on the ice, but he has adequate speed for a bigger guy and a hard-nosed play style. He is a perfect bottom six center and he could potentially be a guy the Devils call on if one of their centers go down this season.

Blake Speers had a nice tournament. Hopefully, he brings some confidence into training camp. Speers struggled last season in the AHL, so the hope is this performance gets him back on track.

-It was nice to see Brandon Gignac back on the ice. He was one of the most exciting Devils prospects last season before he suffered a severe leg injury. He is back and is primed for a big year in the AHL. Like a lot of the Devils top forwards, Gignac brings speed and tenacity. The added bonus with Gignac is he is one of the most offensively creative players in the Devils system.

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