New Jersey Devils

It’s New Jersey Devils day at PHT

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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The New Jersey Devils.

The New Jersey Devils’ 2014-15 story is simple in that they were a team that couldn’t score often and therefore didn’t win often.

They did net six goals against the Philadelphia Flyers in their season opener and scored five times against Florida in their next game. After that though, they were credited with just 170 goals for over their final 80 contests.

The tragedy of it was that they wasted a great season from goaltender Cory Schneider. At the age of 28 (he turned 29 in March), Schneider finally entered a campaign as the undisputed number one goaltender and went on to post a 2.26 GAA and .925 save percentage in 69 contests. However, despite having the league’s ninth best GAA and fifth best save percentage, he finished in a three-way tie for 19th in terms of wins (26).

The Devils’ struggles led to Peter DeBoer’s dismal as head coach on Dec. 26 and he was replaced by co-coaches Adam Oates and Scott Stevens. The silver lining there is that 22-year-old defenseman Adam Larsson worked well under Stevens, leading to him breaking out after years of trying to find his way with the Devils. His rise helped accent the Devils’ promising young blueline, which also features Eric Gelinas, Damon Severson, and Jon Merrill.

Those defensemen provided the Devils with hope for the future, but the 2014-15 campaign itself was a disappointment as New Jersey finished with a 32-36-14 record.

Off-season recap

The Devils acquired forward Kyle Palmieri from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a 2015 second-round pick and a 2016 third-round selection. They also added a player they hope will someday help solve their offensive woes when they took Pavel Zacha with the sixth overall pick in the draft.

Beyond that, New Jersey’s on-ice personnel might be similar this season, but the Devils have undergone a massive overhaul behind the scenes. The NHL’s longest-serving general manager, Lou Lamoriello, passed the torch to former Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero in May. While the original plan was for Lamoriello to remain with the Devils by retaining his other title as the team’s president, he ultimately decided to leave to become the Toronto Maple Leafs’ general manager.

Meanwhile, Shero brought in John Hynes to serve as the new bench boss. Hynes previously worked with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, making him a familiar face to Shero. The new general manager also laid out the Devils’ three principles going forward: Fast, attacking, and supportive.

So while the Devils haven’t made many signings or trades this summer, a new era has begun.

Devils GM doesn’t want to make a big deal out of captaincy

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Really, it makes sense that the New Jersey Devils would prefer not to just throw the captain’s “C” on someone’s jersey right away.

It’s a time of transition for the franchise, with Lou Lamoriello making way for Ray Shero after decades of running the ship, along with John Hynes getting his first NHL head coaching gig.

Shero made it clear that there’s no rush to a captaincy decision, although he left the door open for it to happen as well, as the Newark Star-Ledger reports.

“If we didn’t have a captain to start the season, it wouldn’t mean we don’t have a leader,” Shero said. “Not at all. There are a number of teams with no captains. I don’t know if Columbus had one last season and, of course, Minnesota had rotating captains with Jacques (Lemaire). I don’t want to make a big deal out of it.”

As Shero notes, “we don’t know these players yet.”

Michael Cammalleri spoke of a possibly refreshing change of pace a couple days ago, also to the Newark Star-Ledger.

“The ownership group seems highly intelligent and highly sophisticated in their strategy. For now, let’s put some trust in that,” Cammalleri said. “Let’s (hope) they have a plan that will work.”

Where would you go with the captaincy role, if you had to make a choice today? Would it be a fading veteran like Patrik Elias, maybe someone like Cammalleri or even an up-and-comer such as Adam Larsson?

Looking at New Jersey’s options, it really does make a lot of sense just to wait.

Devils sign Zacha, the sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft

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The New Jersey Devils have signed forward Pavel Zacha to a three-year entry-level contract with an average annual value $925,000, the club announced today.

Zacha was the sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft. The 18-year-old from the Czech Republic had 34 points in 37 games last season with OHL Sarnia.

“I think I am physical and I intend to work hard this summer and in training camp and we’ll see if I can play in the NHL next year,” Zacha said after he was drafted, per Sportsnet.

Devils GM Ray Shero said of Zacha that he was “thrilled to have a guy with the size that he has who has the skating ability and a real upside to his game.”

However, Shero did not commit to having the 6-3, 210-pound teenager on the roster next season: “Hopefully, the decision will be apparent to us, but we’ll do what’s best for him in the short and long run and certainly what’s best for the organization.”

Related: Devils’ Zacha to skip Czech’s world junior evaluation camp

PHT Morning Skate: Versteeg shows off his dance moves at Setoguchi’s wedding

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Kris Versteeg and Jason Demers showed off their dance moves recently at Devin Setoguchi’s wedding:

The Anaheim Ducks will unveil new third jerseys on Oct. 16 and hinted on Twitter Monday that the new look could be the jerseys worn in the original Mighty Ducks movie.

The New Jersey Devils unveiled the finalists in the Cory Schneider mask design contest. (Sportsnet)

In his latest piece for The Players’ Tribune, Pens’ forward Pascal Dupuis writes about why he’s attempting a comeback after being diagnosed with a blood clot in his lung. (The Players’ Tribune)

A hockey fan used melted ice from his favorite team’s rink for his daughter’s baptism. (Puck Daddy)

Coyotes re-sign former first-rounder Gormley

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Arizona has re-upped with young blueliner Brandon Gormley on a one-year, two-way deal, the club announced on Thursday.

Gormley, 23, has spent his entire professional career with the Coyotes after they took him 13th overall at the 2010 draft. A former junior standout — he was named Top Defenseman at the ’12 Worlds — Gormley has yet to make his mark at the NHL level; as an illustration, consider that the defenseman taken one spot ahead of Gormley, Cam Fowler, has already appeared in 345 career contests.

Gormley, meanwhile, has played just 32.

Despite that, it looks as though he’ll have a good shot at extended minutes in Arizona this season. Gone from last year’s blueline are the likes of John Moore and Andrew Campbell but, that said, GM Don Maloney did bring in a pair of veteran presences this summer by re-signing Zbynek Michalek, and adding Nicklas Grossmann via trade.