Keith Kinkaid ranked among the New Jersey Devils’ AHL demotions on Saturday, which means that Scott Clemmensen “won” the New Jersey Devils backup role (at least for now).
“Won” is in quotation marks because the Devils’ No. 2 gig will likely amount to watching Cory Schneider try to prove that he’s worthy of the No. 1 gig and the seven-year, $42 million contract extension he signed this offseason.
(People probably won’t care that Schneider’s cap hit is still at $4 million for one more season if he struggles post-Martin Brodeur.)
Kinkaid, 25, is likely best served getting more reps in the AHL and could very well make like Dustin Tokarski in Montreal by grabbing starts over Clemmensen if Schneider were to suffer a substantial injury. That’s if the Devils believe in his potential more than Clemmensen’s experience, of course; at 37, Clemmensen enters his second tour with the Devils after spending five seasons with the Florida Panthers. He has 188 games of regular season experience at the NHL level, which is especially impressive if it helps you overlook a mediocre .906 career save percentage.
2012 first-rounder Stefan Matteau stands out among other demotions that include Reid Boucher and Seth Helgeson:
The New Jersey Devils became the first team to fail to pick up a single shootout win over an entire season last year going 0-13 in the skills competition – to put that number in perspective, they missed the final playoff spot by just five points in 2013-14.
Following the season, general manager Lou Lamoriello attempted to shake off the the poor showing in the shootout saying “it’s not a focus”.
It may be just preseason, but the Devils once again failed to pick up a win in a shootout Friday night falling 3-2 to the New York Islanders following the breakaway competition.
Reid Boucher was lone Devil to score in the shootout Friday. He had one of the four goals in 45 chances in shootouts last season.
Adam Henrique and newcomer Martin Havlat both missed following Boucher failing to send the shootout to a fourth round.
“That was brutal by (Havlat) and Rico (Henrique),” Patrik Elias jokingly told Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger. “I told Bouch they’ve got to make the rule they have in international play so one guy can go three times.”
It appears Havlat, who was with the San Jose Sharks last season, has caught the shootout bug, which ails the Devils.
“It’s been a while, I think, since they won a shootout,” Havlat said. “I think we just have to get better and calm down. The shot I had was not good at all. It didn’t matter tonight, but it’s an important part of the game. It’s important to get those points. We need to win some shootouts this year for sure.”
For those keeping score, the Devils last won in a shootout during the regular season on Mar. 10, 2013 and are 0-17 in that span.
Jordin Tootoo’s path to redemption will take him through New Jersey, according to Sportsnet’s Josh Rimer. He’s reportedly agreed to a professional tryout offer with the Devils.
The 31-year-old forward signed a three-year, $5.7 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings in the summer of 2012, but he spent the bulk of the 2013-14 campaign in the minors despite Detroit’s injury woes and was bought out in June.
He’s a physical forward that recorded six goals and 30 points in 77 games in his height with the Nashville Predators in 2011-12. He’ll be competing for a third or fourth line spot in New Jersey, although he has his work cut out for him given that the Devils already have 14 forwards signed to one-way contracts as well as young forwards Stefan Matteau and Reid Boucher competing for a spot.
Fellow free agents Scott Gomez and Ryan Carter will also be participating in the Devils’ training camp, so there are no shortage of candidates vying for those final roster spots.
However you might feel about the New Jersey Devils’ 2013-14 campaign, there’s no denying that the team needs to score more goals and generally create more chances.
For the most part, the Devils seem like they’re counting on veteran players to produce. They’re hoping for more good things from the likes of Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias along with ideal outputs from additions Mike Cammalleri and Martin Havlat.
That said, hockey’s usually a young man’s game, so the Devils might at least want to ponder giving a key prospect like Reid Boucher a whirl.
Boucher, 20, turned heads in particular during his outstanding 2012-13 season with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. He managed a 62-goal, 95-point season in 68 contests after only managing 50 in 67 the previous season. His AHL numbers were promising enough in 2013-14, as well, generating an impressive 22 goals and 38 points in 56 contests with the Albany Devils. Boucher even got his feet wet at the NHL level, collecting seven points in 23 games with Devils.
An early August NHL.com story implies that Devils head coach Peter DoBoer thinks he has a shot, at least if he emulates a former Devils forward.
“I’m looking for [Boucher] to come into [training camp] and be in good shape,” DeBoer said. “He’s a veteran and I’m looking for some leadership. He needs to have a workmanlike mentality. Whether he’s playing on a first line or fourth line, he has to bring that workmanlike mentality. I told him that the beauty about Zach Parise was that he was a first-line player with a fourth-line work ethic. I think Reid can take some notes from that.”
All of that said, doing so might mean making some waves. Cap Geek lists 14 forwards under contract in New Jersey, and that’s without counting Boucher or fellow up-and-coming prospect Stefan Matteau.
With everything in mind, the difference between becoming a full-time roster player and another season flipping between the AHL and NHL might come down to how Boucher performs in training camp (and early regular season games if he impresses in September).
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.
Ryan O’Reilly would like to re-sign with the Colorado Avalanche, but doesn’t want to deal with the negotiations until after the season. He’s scheduled to become a restricted free agent this summer, but the Avalanche would need to provide him with a qualifying offer of $6.5 million to retain his rights, so he’s in a strong bargaining position. (Denver Post)
Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $2,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday night’s NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $400. Starts Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.
For the first time in his career, New Jersey forward Reid Boucher, 20, has found a level that he hasn’t been able to frequently score in. After playing in just 18 NHL games, Boucher admitted that it’s “really frustrating.” (The Bergen Record)
Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is convinced that having only two players scheduled to go to the Olympics will help his team in the playoffs. He even commissioned a study that he used to support his argument. (Ottawa Citizen)
Wayne Gretzky was in attendance as the NHL brought its portable refrigeration units to Dodger Stadium. His former teammate and Kings president Luc Robitaille feels it’s vital to have Gretzky be a part of the upcoming outdoor game between Los Angeles and Anaheim. (Washington Times)
Oilers forward Boyd Gordon was very surprised when he found out that Patrick Kane’s accidental goal on his own net was credited to him. He was on the bench when it happened, but the officials ruled he was the last Edmonton player to have control of the puck. (Edmonton Journal)
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is circling Thursday’s contest against the New York Rangers as an important one. After losing to Anaheim and with a razor thin lead in the Wild Card race, Detroit “badly” needs those points. (Detroit News)