New Devils head coach John Hynes recently sat down with Fire and Ice blog where he discussed the teams current state and their future.
Hynes sees a lot of positives on this Devils roster that have him excited for the years to come.
“I think when you see the solid goal tending and solid defense, that’s a real good foundation to grow from.” Hynes said. “Looking at the team, looking at the players and some of the direction, I think you have some very good older guys that have great experience and are high-character players, but I still think there’s a lot of guys that have an upward mobility and as a coach that’s exciting because you can help that and you can see growth as time goes on.”
The Devils finished seventh in the Eastern Conference last season with a 32-36-14 record.
The Devils have signed forward Sergey Klinin to an entry-level contract (Devils, May 29).
The 24-year-old Klinin spent the last five seasons with Avangard Omsk (KHL). Last year he had 12 goals, 13 assists, 25 points, 49 penalty minutes and 58 games played, all of which were career-highs. In 213 career KHL games, he scored 31 goals and 38 assists for 69 points. He also served as team captain last season.
Klinin represented Russia at the 2011 and 2014 World Championships where he won a Gold Medal in both tournaments.
The Devils have signed two prospects, forwards Ryan Kujawinski and Blake Pietila (Devils, May 27).
Kujawinski, 20, played last season with North Bay (OHL). In 34 games he scored 21 goals and recorded 15 assists for 36 points. He was New Jersey’s second choice (third round), and 73rd overall selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
Pietila, 22, played four years of college for Michigan Tech (WCHA). Over the course of his college career he scored 46 goals and had 60 assists for 106 points to go along with 230 penalty minutes in 153 games. He was New Jersey’s fourth choice (fifth round), and 129th overall selection in the 2011 draft.
The San Jose Sharks are expected to hire Peter DeBoer as their new head coach (LeBrun, May 27).
DeBoer served as the Devils head coach from 2011-2014, leading them to a Stanley Cup finals appearance in 2012. He was fired just 36 games into this season after a 12–17–7 start. Adam Oates and Scott Stevens replaced him on the bench for the remainder of the season in a duel-coaching set up.
Prior to coming to the Devils, DeBoer coached the Florida Panthers from 2008-2011. He has a 205-183-70 lifetime record as a head coach.
Damon Severson made his return to the Devils Tuesday night in his first game since Dec. 15, and it felt good (Fire and Ice, March 3).
“I felt pretty comfortable out there,” Severson said. “I think that’s the main thing with me as a player and as a person, just being confident on and off the ice and just doing my thing no matter what. The coaches put their trust in me and the management put their trust in me to put me right back in the fire and I just tried to do my thing out there and have some fun.”
Severson, who missed time with a fractured left ankle, ended the night playing 16:21 in the Devils 3-1 victory over the Predators while posting two shots on goal. Interim coach Lou Lamoriello was happy with the rookie’s return performance.
“For being off for the time he was off and he’s still not there in game shape the way you get by playing, but I thought he did an outstanding job for the first night,” Lamoriello said.
The Devils squeaked by with a 2-1 shootout win over Buffalo, but despite 35 shots on goal, the squad still struggled to pick up a win in regulation (Fire and Ice, Feb. 19).
The team posted 30-plus shots for the first time in 10 games, but it came down to Scott Gomez, who netted the deciding goal in the shootout.
“We had 20 (scoring) chances,” said Devils GM and interim coach Lou Lamoriello. “The first thing you look at is chances to score and chances against. We had plenty of opportunities and that’s all you can ask for. The win, I was pleased with the way we did a lot of things tonight: the penalty kill and the power play had a lot of good looks and 5-on-5 we were creating chances. We just have to put them in the net.”
Adam Henrique, who missed the net on a penalty shot in the third, echoed those sentiments.
“I think we had a lot of looks tonight,” said Henrique. “I think the goalie played well. I had a bunch of chances, a bunch of shots on net from good scoring areas. I think our D did a good job getting pucks through. We’ve just got to keep pushing. There’s some games we get 15 shots and we get three goals. I think we’ve got to stay with that mentality to shoot pucks, get pucks to the net.”
Ultimately, the Devils are happy to kick off their six-game homestand with a win, even if it’s in a shootout.
“If that’s the way we’re going to win, that’s the way we’re going to win. It’s two points in the column,” said Gomez. “We want to make it interesting and to start the homestand like that, we’ll take it.”
Stephen Gionta participated in a full practice with the Devils Monday, having been cleared for contact following a broken hand, which had sidelined him since Dec. 29 (Fire and Ice, Feb. 16).
Gionta is unsure if he’ll suit up for Tuesday night’s game against Buffalo, but it hasn’t been ruled out.
“We’ll see how he is. We’re not sure yet,” interim coach Lou Lamoriello said Monday. “We’ll just see how he feels. We won’t know that until tomorrow.”
Gionta started skating on his own for a week before he was able to work into the first 15 minutes of practice twice last week.
“It’s felt good for the last week or so and it’s just getting the conditioning back,” Gionta said after practice on Monday. “It’s been a long road back. It was good to get out there with the boys today.”
No surprise, the center has been itching to get back on the ice, especially while his squad has been struggling to turn things around after the coaching change on Dec. 26.
“It’s difficult any time you have to watch your team play,” Gionta said. “You want to be out there with them. You want to be in the middle of it. You want to be in the mix. You want to be able to help the team out and, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to for the last seven weeks. And it’s always tough just watching. No matter whether you’re winning or losing, it’s tough watching.”