The New Jersey Devils aren’t known for having one of the most talented rosters in the NHL, but that could change over the next few years.
The last few drafts have been kind to the Devils, as they’ve loaded up on weapons like Pavel Zacha, Nico Hischier and Michael McLeod. All three players are capable of playing down the middle, which is a plus in today’s NHL.
Zacha has already played 71 games with New Jersey, so it appears as though he’ll be on the team next fall. Hischier, who was the top pick in this summer’s entry draft, also has a shot to crack the opening night roster. But what about McLeod?
The Devils selected him with the 12th overall pick in the 2016 draft. Although he didn’t play in the NHL at all last year, he still managed to put up 73 points in 57 regular season games with OHL Mississauga before adding 27 more points in 20 playoff contests.
Although the focus will likely be on Hischier during training camp, McLeod is hoping to leave a lasting impression of his own.
“Right now it’s my goal to be on that team,” stated McLeod, per NJ.com. “I’m going to do whatever I can, I’m going to do whatever coach tells me to do. I’m going to work hard every practice and shift. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll head back to Mississauga and try and win there next year.
“I’d play wing, left wing, right wing, wherever they put me to get in the lineup. It’s an honor to play in this league, it’s the best league in the world, and you do whatever you can just to get here.”
The 19-year-old will have to have a terrific camp to stick around for the 2017-18 season because the Devils have quite a few forwards that can play on their top three lines. Keeping McLeod just to play him a few minutes per game doesn’t really make sense. He’ll have to show he’s capable of contributing right away.