Season Grade: The Rest of the Forwards

The rest of the forwards will be under one post.  These are guys that either played less than 30 regular season games or were traded away.  Many of them don’t have a big enough sample size to accurately go over their season.  For the prospects that played in a few games (Zacha, Santini, etc.), the grade will reflect the season in their respective league. For the AHL guys, the grade will reflect their time in the AHL as well. With all that being said, let’s get to it!

Lee Stempniak-A

What a year it was for Stempniak.  Stempniak suited up for 63 games this year as a member of the Devils, putting up a surprising 41 points.  He wasn’t a great possession player (45.5 CF%, -2.8 CF% Rel), but he was playing against the best competition.  He was such a revelation for the Devils, putting up much needed offense.  Stempniak was traded at the deadline to the Boston Bruins for a 2017 2nd round pick and a 2016 4th round pick.  That’s a very good return on someone who made the team on a PTO (professional try out).  Stempniak earned an A for his time with the Devils.  Between the offense and the trade return, Stempniak helped the Devils all season.  Look at Stempniak as a potential free agent signing this offseason.

Brian O’Neill-C

The Devils traded for O’Neill last October, sending a conditional 7th round pick to the LA Kings.  The condition, that the Devils sign O’Neill to an NHL Contract for the 2016-17 season was not met, so the pick stays with the Devils.  It was a low-risk move by Shero.  O’Neill was coming off a very strong season in the AHL, putting up 80 points in the regular season and 20 in the playoffs, helping Manchester win the Calder Cup.  Unfortunately, that success didn’t translate to the NHL level.  O’Neill put up 2 points in 22 games with New Jersey.  His C grade comes from his time with Albany, where he put up 32 points in 42 games, as well as 5 points in 9 playoff games.  O’Neill signed with Jokerit of the KHL, and best of luck to him.

Stefan Matteau-D

Matteau’s time with the Devils seemed bad from the start.  Matteau was picked 29th in the 2012 NHL Draft, a pick that many thought the Devils should’ve given up for the Kovy contract.  He would play 17 games with the Devils the next season, which burned a year of his ELC.  He would never really find his footing after that.  It can be argued that the Devils screwed up his development, but Matteau never really proved he could play in the NHL.  Matteau would be traded to the Montreal Canadiens in February for forward Devante Smith-Pelly.  This deal would turn out to be a steal for Shero, as DSP played very well for the Devils.  Matteau gets a D for the season.  He didn’t do much for New Jersey, putting up 1 goal in 20 games, but he was traded for DSP, who could be an interesting piece for the future.

Devante Smith-Pelly-B

Speaking of DSP, his stretch with the Devils was very encouraging.  Originally drafted by the Anaheim Ducks, DSP was traded to Montreal for Jiri Sekac, but wouldn’t do much at all.  Before his trade to the Devils, DSP was barely scoring, putting up a measly 12 points in 46 games.  After the trade, DSP put up 13 points in 18 games.  His shooting percentage was extremely high in that 18 game stretch, but that’s still something to be happy about.  You always hear about how a change of scenery can benefit a player, and that could be what happened with DSP.  He’s only 24, and is an RFA, so it’ll be interesting to see what kind of deal he will get.  His time with the Devils this season was short, but he earned a B and a look for next year.

Mike Sislo-B

Sislo is a career AHL guy.  He’s played 42 career NHL games and only has 5 points.  His AHL numbers are much better.  Sislo came in second in points for Albany, and played less games than leading scorer Matt Lorito.  His success hasn’t translated to the NHL, though.  He played 18 games this year with New Jersey, putting up 4 points.  Not necessarily horrible, but not something that makes you feel great.  He is the kind of player that can come up to the NHL when needed and not be a complete mess on the ice.  He won’t contribute at the NHL level, but is a great AHL veteran who can help the young A-Devils next year.

Patrik Elias-B

I refuse to believe this season was the end of Patrik’s Devils career.  Elias only suited up for 16 games this year, and had two different stints on the IR because of his knee.  He had surgery on his knee in May, and it’s still unknown what his future will hold.  He did score at a 0.50 PPG pace, which isn’t bad at all for someone his age.  There’s a real possibility that Elias does retire, and that this was his last year with the Devils.  I hope that he can come back next year for a proper send off, but only time will tell.  It’s hard to give him a grade because of the injuries, but I’m going to go off the board and give him an B, if only for the great ending to the season, and potentially to his amazing career.

Blake Pietila-C

Blake didn’t have the strongest season points wise for the Albany Devils.  His 17 points in 58 games wasn’t anything special, but he did put up 6 points in 8 playoff games.  It was also his first full pro season, so he could do better in a bigger role next season.  He did manage to suit up for 7 games in the NHL this year.  He also had 2 points in those 7 games.  It was a nice cup of coffee for the young forward.  He has time to grow and become a potential bottom 6 guy for the Devils.  Next season will be very important for Blake, and I think he’s someone to keep an eye out in Albany.

Jim O’Brien-C

A former 1st round pick, O’Brien never found much success in the NHL.  He has 12 points in 67 career NHL games.  He suited up for 4 NHL games this year, producing 0 points.  He, like Sislo, is an AHL guy who can come up when needed for a few games.  Also like Sislo, he is a solid AHL veteran and can help the younger guys in Albany.  He did put up 38 points in 56 games for Albany, and had 5 points in 6 playoff games.  He had an average season, earning a C.

Paul Thompson-D

Thompson’s most notable contribution to the Devils this season was being apart of the Marc Savard trade.  He had a very solid season for Albany in 2014-15, putting up 33 goals and 55 points in 73 games.  He wouldn’t repeat the success this year, though.  His goal totals dipped to 13, and his points total dipped to 35.  His PIMs also went up.  He put up 4 points in 10 playoff games for Albany.  He played in 3 NHL games this year, and didn’t have any points.  He is someone that can be replaced in Albany, and the future 2nd round pick he helped bring in could be very useful for the Devils.

Pavel Zacha-A

It was a great year for Zacha.  He spent most of it in the OHL with Sarnia, but got to play in one NHL game and play with Albany for a bit.  He did have some injuries, but they don’t look like anything super serious.  He had 64 points in 51 games in the OHL, and had a huge playoff, scoring 13 points in 7 games.  He played in the Devils final game of the season, putting up 2 assists.  He also got to play with Patrik Elias, which was a big deal for the kid.  He went down to Albany and had 3 points in 3 games before the playoffs.  He had 3 points in 5 playoff games, but missed the remainder of the season with an injury.  Zacha made big strides this year, and he’s someone to look at during camp this year.  I think he could make the Devils out of camp, but time will tell. 

Miles Wood-B

Wood played the majority of the season as a freshman at Boston College.  He was a bit old for a freshman, but it was still his first year in college hockey, and he contributed in a big way.  He was fifth on BC for total scoring with 35 points in 37 games, which is great for Wood.  He was rewarded for his solid season with a contract, and suited up for the last Devils game of the season.  He didn’t score, but didn’t look too out of place.  He ended the year playing for USA at the World Championship, playing in 10 games and scoring 1 goal.  He will probably spend next season in Albany, but a solid camp could see him start in New Jersey.

(Numbers and Statistics via Hockey Reference and Elite Prospects)

 

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