After being one of the worst offensive teams in the NHL this past season the New Jersey Devils have undergone some significant roster changes in an effort to add some scoring punch to their lineup.
They were fortunate enough to get the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and select Nico Hischier, they were able to take advantage of the Washington Capitals’ salary cap crunch and pick up Marcus Johansson for a couple of draft picks, and they signed veteran forward Brian Boyle as a free agent. Joining a team that already has Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri, Adam Henrique they should be better. At least on paper.
They are also hoping for some help from within their own organizational pipeline of talent. One player that might be able to make an impact is 2015 third-round pick Blake Speers.
Speers surprisingly made the Devils’ roster a season ago out of training camp and briefly appeared in three games (and impressing the coaching staff) before being sent back to the Ontario Hockey League.
According to coach John Hynes after observing Hynes play at the team’s recent development camp, the 20-year-old forward seems to be on a mission to make the roster again this season. And stick there.
“There’s certainly a drive and determination to him overall in this camp that he looks like he’s a guy on the mission to give himself the best opportunity to make the team next year,” Hynes said, via Chris Ryan of NJ.com, while also adding that Speers is a “relentless, relentless competitor.”
After returning to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL, Speers averaged more than a point per game (34 points in 30 games) before getting a brief look with the AHL’s Albany River Rats in the playoffs.
The Devils have struggled offensively for years now but general manager Ray Shero seems to be trying to change that with some of his recent roster moves, as well as well as the addition of a No. 1 overall pick. A prospect like Speers coming out of the third-round of the NHL draft and making an impact would certainly help as well.