6 #NJDevils Thoughts – March 2, 2018

1) The idea for this column is inspired by Elliotte Friedman’s weekly 31 Thoughts column for Sportsnet, where he goes around the league telling stories or sharing inside information he hears from everyone in the NHL; agents to GMs to talent evaluators to players and beyond.  Outside the national media, I feel like we as New Jersey Devils fans don’t get this type of exclusive information that we all crave.  One of my goals with this platform is to try and change that.  Earlier this week, I reported that the Devils and Michael Grabner have not had any preliminary discussions regarding a contract extension.  I realize that’s not a “Devils trade for McDavid” type scoop, but I plan on working hard for tidbits like that; details that we as Devils fans rarely get, if ever.

2) Speaking of Elliotte Friedman, in his most recent 31 Thoughts column he told a recent story regarding John Hynes:

“...word is Hynes fired up his players a couple of weeks ago by showing them Jason Kelce’s speech from the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl parade. Kelce’s awesome, profanity-laced tirade about the disrespected Eagles would resonate well among the Devils. I’d run through a wall after listening to that.”

First off, you should watch it if you haven’t already.  I’m guessing there was already a sense of it in the lockerroom, but this probably pushed the #NJDvsEverybody movement over the top.  I always enjoy hearing these kinds of things, because we don’t get to see the players or coaches when the cameras are off.  I think a good chunk of Devils fans consider Hynes a calm, even-keeled individual, which he is, but I know the fanbase appreciates hearing that there’s another layer to him beyond just being the guy who answers questions about hockey games.

By the way…would we ever see something like this on the steps of City Hall in Newark sometime in the 2020s?  Who could pull off such a speech?  Certainly hockey players’ personalities are built very differently from football players, but I so desperately want to see one of the players on stage delivering something similar to this, “THEY SAID TAYLOR HALL WAS THE PROBLEM IN EDMONTON!  PAVEL ZACHA’S A BUST!  THEY SAID JESPER BRATT’S A FLASH IN THE PAN!  NICO HISCHIER’S TOO SMALL!  CORY SCHNEIDER’S TOO OLD!”

Miles Wood?  He comes off a little shy when the camera is on.  Ben Lovejoy?  What I wouldn’t give to hear his stoic, calculated cadence deliver a victory speech.  Nico could step up to the microphone, say anything and the crowd would probably go nuts.  If only the Devils won a Cup while Cam Janssen was here…

3) Neil Best reported recently that Stan Fischler is retiring at season’s end to spend more time with his sons and grandsons.  Congratulations to the Maven.  As a kid, I lived for the “Chuck the Duck” segments with him and Matt Loughlin during the postgames (especially postseason postgames) on Fox Sports NY.  You could say he’s lost his fastball over the years, but he gets, or should get, a ton of respect for consistently attending Metro NY NHL games at 85 years old!!

I will always enjoy the heck out of this Stan Fischler/Ben Lovejoy exchange on a conference call when he signed as a free agent:

4) Steve Politi recently wrote an article for the Star Ledger, ranking the all-time Top 50 State of New Jersey coaches.  Anything!  Pro, college, high school, etc.  The three NJ Devils Stanley Cup-winning head coaches all made the list.  Larry Robinson landed at 24.  Pat Burns checked in at 17.  Jacques Lemaire at 11.  With John Hynes on the precipice of 100 wins and soon standing alone in 3rd place on the all-time Devils wins list (2nd by next season), I thought about where he currently sits in Devils history among the other coaches not named above.  Hard to do because we know Lou was tough to work with.  For me, he’s still behind Pete DeBoer with his 2012 Stanley Cup run.  He’s probably behind Brent Sutter too.  I know he wasn’t well liked but his regular season numbers were impressive in his 2 seasons.  Robbie Ftorek’s numbers are really strong too.  If John Hynes takes this team to the playoffs soon and wins a round, in my mind he’s probably very close to leapfrogging Ftorek and Sutter, making him a Top-5 HC in Devils history.

5) Jared Clinton of the Hockey News recently penned a piece about Taylor Hall and the Hart Trophy.  I’m not going to beat a dead horse…there’s some great numbers and ranks in there.  I’ll break it down a bit further via 5-on-5, though:

That’s all.

6) Bunch of mini, quick hit thoughts grouped into one to send us into the weekend:

-On a recent Hockey News Prospect Podcast, Nathan Bastian was interviewed (10:53 mark).  He just turned 20 in December.  I’m sure he’ll be at Dev Camp in July and Training Camp in September but considering the Devils haven’t played a lot of the borderline young kids, I’m wondering if he’ll need another full year at Binghamton in 2018-19.  He does however play a position of need for the big club…

-I asked Corey Pronman of The Athletic if he considered Yegor Rykov a better prospect than Jeremy Davies or Reilly Walsh, coming to North America aside.  His response, “As I said above, I’ve always had a soft spot for Rykov, but Davies and Walsh have been very impressive this season. It’s close. Walsh probably has the most upside of the three, but Rykov’s played at a high level versus his peers and versus men, so I still lean to him for now.”  It probably is close, but Ray said after the trade that Rangers GM Jeff Gorton asked about some other players that Ray was not going to part with…assuming that means Davies and Walsh.  Obvious guess is obvious.  Side note…he also answered a question about Joey Anderson in the mailbag.

-Patrik Elias’ number was retired on February 24, 2018.  His countryman Marek Zidlicky was in attendance.  The Devils traded for Marek Zidlicky on February 24, 2012.  Today is March 2, 2018.  The Devils traded Marek Zidlicky to Detroit on March 2, 2015.

Say it with me kids…#GoodPartyTalk.

-I saw a handful of Devils fans saying the Devils should have traded Drew Stafford and Jimmy Hayes.  What’s the going rate on wingers who can’t produce?  Remember that great first half P.A. Parenteau had last season.? Yes, he struggled up until the trade deadline and had a knock but he only netted a 6th round pick.  By my count, only one winger was traded at the deadline straight up for a pick this year.  Tommy Wingels from CHI to BOS for a conditional 5th.  One guy!  Wasn’t in the cards for Ray.

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