Devils Select Michael McLeod with 12th Overall Pick

All the hype for the 11th overall pick, and the Devils ended up trading it.  They traded the 11th overall pick to the Senators for pick #12 and a 3rd round pick (#80) in the 2016 NHL Draft.  The Devils would use the 12th overall pick to select Michael McLeod, the 6’2 center from the Mississauga Steelheads.

McLeod has been described as one of the best skaters in this draft, but has problems with finishing.  He is projected to be a playmaker at the next level.  If I could describe this pick, it would be meh.  HockeyProspect.com talked about McLeod at length in their 2016 NHL Draft Black Book, and it wasn’t a glowing write-up.  Their scouts love his size and his skating ability, as well as his passing skills.  The one knock on him they mention is his scoring.  They mentioned that he fell to 19th on their list because his passes up scoring opportunities, or his just missed great opportunities.  That’s not encouraging at all.  One NHL Scout mentioned that their combine interview with him was really bad, and that for a kid who has so much energy on the ice, he doesn’t have much off.

Future Considerations also has a very in-depth profile on McLeod.  Some things they praise are his skating, his hands, his defensive play, and his all around play.  They mention how he can set up scoring chances with his speed and passing.  Some things that they point out as weaknesses are inconsistent play and bad passes.  They project him as a top 6 two-way center at the NHL level.

I can’t say that I’m thrilled with this pick.  It’s early to tell for sure, but I’m not a big fan of a player who has a hard time finishing.  Time will tell how the pick plays out, and I hope he proves me wrong, but I’m just very meh with this pick.

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Season Grade: Adam Larsson

Many people were jumping on the “Adam Larsson is a bust” train before the season started, and I think it’s safe to say that they should hop off. There will always be people that say Larsson is a bust because he doesn’t put up 40 points or isn’t as flashy as other defensemen, but he has grown into a very, very solid defender.  It’s weird to think, but Larsson is still only 23 years old.  He could still grow as a player and get better.  He helped anchor the top d-pairing with Andy Greene, and all things considering, did a great job.  This was an important season for Larsson, and let’s take a look at it below.

The Numbers

5v5 Numbers

5v5 TOI 5v5 Goals 5v5 Assists 5v5 Points 5v5 G60 5v5 A60 5v5 P60 5v5 Pen D 5v5 CF% 5v5 CF% Rel 5v5 SH%  5v5 ZSO% Rel
1,434.41 1 12 13 0.04 0.5 0.54 -17 44.50% -2.15% 7.71% -24.81%

5v4 Numbers

5v4 TOI 5v4 Goals 5v4 Assists 5v4 Points 5v4 G60 5v4 A60 5v4 P60 5v4 Pen D 5v4 CF% 5v4 CF% Rel 5v4 SH% 5v4 ZSO% Rel
30.79 0 0 0 0 0 0 -3 83.33% -2.66% 50.00% -3.94%

4v5 Numbers

4v5 TOI 4v5 Goals 4v5 Assists 4v5 Points 4v5 G60 4v5 A60 4v5 P60 4v5 Pen D 4v5 CF% 4v5 CF% Rel 4v5 SH% 4v5 ZSO% Rel
280.66 0 1 1 0 0.21 0.21 2 6.94% -10.67% 15.79% -12.74%

All Situations Numbers

All TOI All Goals All Assists All Points All G60 All A60 All P60 All Pen D All CF% All CF% Rel All SH% All ZSO% Rel
1841.92 3 15 18 0.1 0.29 0.49 -19 37.28% -10.29% 9.17% -32.80%

So we can start with the obvious, Adam Larsson doesn’t see that much power play time.  When he does, he starts it in the defensive zone more than most of his teammates.  I don’t think Larsson on the power play would be a terrible idea, and I think it’s something Hynes should look at next year.  Even if it’s just a small increase, I think Larsson can help produce with the man advantage.  Larsson is used way more often on the penalty kill.  Only Andy Greene saw more PK time than Larsson this year.  He was relied on heavily to be a top pairing defensemen for the Devils this year, and his PK time just shows that.  

Larsson’s 5v5 numbers are what I really want to look at.  He didn’t put up many points, which is something I’ll look at later.  What he did do was face the toughest competition each opposing team had to offer.  Considering how often Larsson started in his own zone compared to his teammates, his CF% is pretty great.  His CF% Rel is a -2.15%, which is also crazy considering his usage.  Larsson fared well against the best competition the NHL has to offer, and that’s really encouraging.  His 5v5 numbers next year will be interesting to see.

Some things that weren’t so great for Larsson was his penalty differential and his points total.  Larsson took 19 more penalties than he drew, and that’s not something that’s good for one of your top pairing defensemen.  The point totals are a different story.  Yes, his numbers dropped from last year, where he had 24 points in 64 games, but you have to remember how Larsson is being used.  He is seeing a small amount of power play time and is starting his even strength play in defensive situations.  Still, 18 points is very low, especially for the Devils.  If Larsson could contribute more, I think he’d get some recognition league wide.

Season Grade: B+

I think it’s time the “Larsson is a bust” thought is put to rest.  Larsson showed this year that he can be a defenseman that Hynes can rely on in most situations.  He hasn’t proved himself on the power play, but that could happen with more time.  Larsson helped anchor the Devils best defensive pairing, and it really wasn’t close.  I would trust him in any defensive situation more than I would any of the other Devils defensemen except for Andy Greene, and even that’s close for me.  This was the biggest season of Larsson’s career, and I hope he can build off of it.  I think the B+ is a very fair grade for Larsson.  Hopefully next year he plays well enough to bump that grade up.

(Numbers and statistics via Corsica.hockey and Hockey Reference.  All numbers adjusted for score and venue.)

(Photo courtesy of Andy Marlin/Getty Images)

Devils Release 2016-17 Season Schedule

Yesterday, the Devils announced that their home opener would be on October 18th against the Anaheim Ducks.  We also found out that the Devils will play against the Bruins on October 20th for their home opener, and against the Panthers on October 13th for their home opener.  The Devils just announced their entire schedule for the 2016-17 season, and you can find that here.  You can also find some more news about the entire NHL schedule here.

Some Thoughts

The first thing that I looked at was the back-to-back games.  It looks like the Devils will have 15 back to back games this year.  You can look at that a couple of ways, but I see it as time that Cory will have some rest during the season.  It also looks like it will be a tough start to the season for the Devils.  Their first month of the season features games against the Lightning, Panthers, Ducks, Blackhawks, and Wild.  

The longest stretch of home games this year is 5 in February, and they have a couple of 4 game road trips that are their longest of the year.  Some interesting games for Devils fans are November 12th against the Sabres, November 23rd against the Leafs, and January 7th against the Oilers.  These will be the fans chance to see guys like Jack Eichel, Connor McDavid, and Auston Matthews.

April will be a very interesting time of the season for the Devils.  They play the Flyers twice, Penguins, Red Wings, and Islanders.  I think that all these teams will be fighting for a playoff spot, but a team like the Penguins could have their spot secured.  The Devils could play spoiler to one of these teams in April.

The Devils play the Rangers twice at MSG before they play them at home on February 25th. Their last game against the Rangers will be at the Rock on March 21st.  They host the Flyers for the first time a couple days before Christmas, December 22nd to be exact.  The Devils also host the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, on December 27th for the first time.  

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)

 

Season Grade: Jiri Tlusty

I had some high expectations for Tlusty when he was brought in by Ray Shero.  I knew that he wasn’t going to put up a ton of points, but I thought he’d be a decent 3rd line forward who could chip in some offense.  Unfortunately, I was wrong.  It was a rough season for Tlusty.  He wasn’t an offensive threat, and would miss more than half the season with injuries.  Let’s look at his season below.

The Numbers

5v5 Numbers

5v5 TOI 5v5 Goals 5v5 Assists 5v5 Points 5v5 G60 5v5 A60 5v5 P60 5v5 Pen D 5v5 CF% 5v5 CF% Rel 5v5 SH%  5v5 ZSO% Rel
355.78 1 1 2 0.17 0.17 0.34 1 47.42% 0.89% 4.00% -6.46%

5v4 Numbers

5v4 TOI 5v4 Goals 5v4 Assists 5v4 Points 5v4 G60 5v4 A60 5v4 P60 5v4 Pen D 5v4 CF% 5v4 CF% Rel 5v4 SH% 5v4 ZSO% Rel
25.54 1 0 1 2.35 0 2.35 2 76.92% 13.99% 13.33% -14.31%

4v5 Numbers

4v5 TOI 4v5 Goals 4v5 Assists 4v5 Points 4v5 G60 4v5 A60 4v5 P60 4v5 Pen D 4v5 CF% 4v5 CF% Rel 4v5 SH% 4v5 ZSO% Rel
16.32 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 20.00% 7.50% 0.00% 19.08%

All Situations Numbers

All TOI All Goals All Assists All Points All G60 All A60 All P60 All Pen D All CF% All CF% Rel All SH% All ZSO% Rel
410.17 2 2 4 0.29 0.29 0.59 6 47.37% 0.35% 5.85% -5.03%

First thing that stands out is the lack of offense from Tlusty.  4 points in 30 games isn’t anything that makes you want Tlusty back next year.  He didn’t play much on the power play because he couldn’t produce at 5v5.  He didn’t play on the penalty kill because he defensive play wasn’t anything special.  He only put up 2 even strength points this season.  There were depth players that were much better options than Tlusty.  If I could describe Tlusty’s presence this year, it would be that he was just around.  

If there was one thing to be happy with, it’s that his possession numbers were positive relative to the rest of the team.  That spreads across very situation he was put in as well.  Now, the Devils were a very bad possession team, so it’s not like he was making a huge difference, but still.  Tlusty also drew more penalties than he took, and if you’ve been reading these season grades, you can see how that helps the Devils.  Besides that, it was a pretty forgettable season from Tlusty.

Season Grade: F

I understand what Shero was doing when he brought in Tlusty.  He had the chance to be a solid 3rd line guy, but it never happened.  Guys like Tyler Kennedy, Lee Stempniak, and Jacob Josefson were much better options for the Devils.  Tlusty also took up spots that could’ve been filled by players like Reid Boucher or Joseph Blandisi.  Like many players on the Devils, Tlusty will be a UFA this offseason.  I highly doubt he is brought back.  He missed way too much time with injuries, and his wrist surgery could impact his already small scoring numbers.  It was a low risk signing that just happened to have no reward.  Tlusty didn’t even come close to meeting the expectations of many people, and didn’t do anything to earn more than an F this season. 

(Numbers and statistics via Corsica.hockey and Hockey Reference)

(Photo courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Season Grade: Tuomo Ruutu

This is probably going to be the shortest season grade post, at least for the forwards.  Ruutu suited up for 33 games this season and had 1 point.  Ruutu also made $5,000,000 last season.  $5,000,000. 1 point.  33 games.  It was bad, and that’s a nice way of putting it.  Ruutu was often a healthy scratch, which was smart by Hynes.  Let’s take a look at Ruutu’s 2015-16 season below. 

The Numbers

5v5 Numbers

5v5 TOI 5v5 Goals 5v5 Assists 5v5 Points 5v5 G60 5v5 A60 5v5 P60 5v5 Pen D 5v5 CF% 5v5 CF% Rel 5v5 SH%  5v5 ZSO% Rel
355.45 0 1 1 0 0.17 0.17 -6 45.91% 1.39% 3.91% -5.58%

5v4 Numbers

5v4 TOI 5v4 Goals 5v4 Assists 5v4 Points 5v4 G60 5v4 A60 5v4 P60 5v4 Pen D 5v4 CF% 5v4 CF% Rel 5v4 SH% 5v4 ZSO% Rel
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

4v5 Numbers

4v5 TOI 4v5 Goals 4v5 Assists 4v5 Points 4v5 G60 4v5 A60 4v5 P60 4v5 Pen D 4v5 CF% 4v5 CF% Rel 4v5 SH% 4v5 ZSO% Rel
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

All Situations Numbers

All TOI All Goals All Assists All Points All G60 All A60 All P60 All Pen D All CF% All CF% Rel All SH% All ZSO% Rel
379.25 0 1 1 0 0.16 0.16 -10 45.20% 0.23% 3.85% -4.69%

Let’s get right to it.  The only real positive things to say about Ruutu’s season was that he wasn’t a black hole possession wise during 5v5 play.  Relative to the rest of the team, he started in the defensive zone pretty often.  He was also a positive possession player relative to the rest of the team.  

He didn’t play much time on the power play or penalty kill.  He isn’t a great defensive player, so the penalty kill makes sense.  He clearly wasn’t a great offensive threat this season, so no power play time also makes sense.  Ruutu also had some injury problems this season.  He missed some time with a fractured foot, and it just fell apart from that point.  There’s really not much else to say about Ruutu.

Season Grade: F

If I could give lower than an F, I probably would.  Ruutu was bad last season, plain and simple.  His 1 point in 33 games for a player making $5,000,000 is unacceptable.  He also had some dumb moments, specifically when he was fined $5,000 for slew-footing Matt Cullen.  Thankfully, the Ruutu experiment should over (for the love of God, please let the Ruutu experiment be over).  I can’t see any scenario where Shero re-signs Ruutu.  He brings nothing to the team, and he shouldn’t be back next year.  Ruutu’s time with the Devils was forgettable.  The trade to bring him in was confusing, and he didn’t do much to garner praise.  At this point, I’m thankful it’s (hopefully) over.  

(Numbers and statistics via Corsica.hockey and Hockey Reference)

(Photo Courtesy of the National Hockey League)

Season Grade: Reid Boucher

It was a big year for Boucher.  After a few years of inconsistent play in both the NHL and AHL, Boucher found his stride.  He split time between New Jersey (39 games) and Albany (34 games), putting up decent stat lines at both levels.  Reid also contributed for the A-Devils in the Calder Cup Playoffs.  Some Devils fans have unrealistic expectations for Boucher, but this year was a great year for him and his development.  Let’s take a Boucher’s season below.

The Numbers

5v5 Numbers

5v5 TOI 5v5 Goals 5v5 Assists 5v5 Points 5v5 G60 5v5 A60 5v5 P60 5v5 Pen D 5v5 CF% 5v5 CF% Rel 5v5 SH%  5v5 ZSO% Rel
466.26 6 6 12 0.77 0.77 1.54 -1 43.42% -1.59% 6.95% 3.61%

5v4 Numbers

5v4 TOI 5v4 Goals 5v4 Assists 5v4 Points 5v4 G60 5v4 A60 5v4 P60 5v4 Pen D 5v4 CF% 5v4 CF% Rel 5v4 SH% 5v4 ZSO% Rel
75.53 2 4 6 1.59 2.38 3.18 -1 88.00% 1.87% 16.39% 1.90%

4v5 Numbers

4v5 TOI 4v5 Goals 4v5 Assists 4v5 Points 4v5 G60 4v5 A60 4v5 P60 4v5 Pen D 4v5 CF% 4v5 CF% Rel 4v5 SH% 4v5 ZSO% Rel
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

All Situations Numbers

All TOI All Goals All Assists All Points All G60 All A60 All P60 All Pen D All CF% All CF% Rel All SH% All SZO% Rel
554.89 8 11 19 0.87 1.19 2.05 2 48.85% 3.56% 9.56% 7.21%

Boucher did spend time in Albany, where he put up 32 points in 34 games, which was good for a 0.94 point per game average.  His 19 goals was tied for second on Albany, and his 32 points was good for fifth.  All of the players in front of him had at least 20 more games played.  He lead the A-Devs in playoff scoring with 10 points in 11 games.  He was easily Albany’s best player when he was there.

His time in New Jersey was decent.  He scored at a 0.49 point per game pace with the Devils.  He isn’t the best possession player as you can see from his CF% and CF% Rel at even strengths.  His zone starts relative to the rest of the team was positive.  I think it’s safe to say that Boucher isn’t a defensive wizard.  He doesn’t receive any penalty kill time because of this.  Where Boucher is going to make his living will be on the power play.  His 6 5v4 points in limited minutes was pretty good, and his shot can be lethal on the power play if put in the right position.  I don’t think Boucher will ever be a possession monster on the ice, but can put up points if put in the right situations.

Season Grade: B

This was an extremely encouraging season for Boucher.  He was able to score consistently for the Albany Devils, both in the regular season and playoffs.  Boucher also made a good impression while he was with New Jersey.  His scoring numbers make me excited for his future.  I think there’s a great chance Boucher spends most of his time in New Jersey next season.  This season was a great season for him to build off of.  I don’t think he will be a 25 goal scorer or anything like that next season, but I also don’t think 18-20 is out of the question.  For a team like the Devils, that’s big.  I’m excited for Boucher’s future, and I think he can finally stick with the Devils for good.

(Numbers and statistics via Corsica.hockey and Hockey Reference)

(Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Kozub/Getty Images)