Pumped to be back writing after a few months away. Again, I don’t know how often I’ll write these. When interesting and unique content pertaining to the Devils surfaces, I’ll have some thoughts. Let’s get started.
1) Recently, it was announced that 2016 Training Camp PTO invitee goaltender Anders Lindback signed with HC Davos in Switzerland. While that doesn’t seem like much of an issue, it is to NJ’s 2017 5th round draft pick, goaltending prospect Gilles Senn. The piece mentions that Davos signed Lindback because they were not happy that both Senn and Joren van Pottelberghe (DET 4th/2015) are not willing to abandon their plans of heading to North America for the 2019-20 season. It’s a one-year deal, but they’re planning to roll out Lindback as the #1 goaltender to see if he can be a long-term solution. They’re not joking either. Davos opened their season this past weekend with two games back-to-back…Lindback started both and Senn backed him up. This seems to be a pretty uncomfortable situation and a hindrance to Senn’s development process. I’m not sure what can be done here. Maybe he and his representation can cause enough havoc and force the organization to trade him or release him from his contract? I’m hopeful things will change but it’s possible this could be a lost season for Senn.
2) On the Season 2 debut of the 31 Thoughts Podcast (1:18:19 mark), Elliotte Friedman mentioned that had Evan Bouchard not fallen into the Edmonton Oilers’ lap at 10, Ty Smith was probably going to be their pick. Interesting! We know that it was a crapshoot after the 2nd pick in this year’s draft, but let’s play revisionist, speculative history. If you listened to our #DevilsDaily recap of the Draft, we thought there were 3 wild-card picks that led to Smith falling to NJ. ARI picking Barrett Hayton at 5, DAL selecting Ty Dellandrea at 13 and Martin Kaut going to COL at 16. Here’s my attempt at re-imagining the Draft if one pick went differently in the first 9 spots that led to a domino effect of Bouchard not being available at 10:
I’ll make my pivot point Arizona selecting the player everyone else thought they should have at the time…Filip Zadina. I think the next two picks slide up and then Evan Bouchard moves up to CHI. Dellandrea to DAL at 13 was a bit of a reach compared to Bob McKenzie’s Industry Poll, in which he surveyed the scouting department of 10 NHL teams. So I’ll take a comfortable stab and say they couldn’t have passed up Hayton at 13. I kept 14-16 the same, though you could probably talk me into any of those picks being shaken up compared to what happened in June. So who would the Devils have taken at the “new 17”? The next seven picks after the Devils were centers or defensemen, so I’ll guess that the Devils would have done the same…let’s eliminate the winger position (Dominik Bokk, Serron Noel, etc.) from the process. I want to believe that USNTDP defenseman K’Andre Miller was attractive to the Devils when they were on the clock in Dallas, but that he was still a few slots down their list given several surprise picks in front of them. I believe they would have picked QMJHL center Joe Veleno or Finnish center Rasmus Kupari. Just because the entire league basically passed on Veleno, doesn’t mean they’re right. He’s going to prove a lot of people wrong. Kupari would have made a lot of sense as well, considering Paul Castron’s recent passion for European skill players. Have a thought on how things would have shaken out if Smith got picked by EDM at 10? Comment, tweet us, etc. None of this really matters, of course…just a fun exercise. Ty Smith rocks.
3) How the heck does a team have only one home NHL preseason game? Maybe the Devils make out better financially from getting a cut of the game in Switzerland (and Sweden) rather than hosting a half-filled arena where they have to pay all the seasonal gamenight employees? Who knows. PostFinance Arena, the home of SC Bern, holds 17,000+ and I imagine it’ll be over 100% capacity, though I don’t know the currency exchange rate between the USA and Switzerland. Not knowing all the finances, I wonder if the upcoming NHL Network four-part series “Behind The Glass” featuring the Devils was a “kickback” from the league for such a hectic preseason/start of regular season. I understand the Devils are the closest team to the NHL Network studios in Secaucus, NJ but I’m sure there were several other teams that network big wigs would have preferred instead. I’m probably overthinking this. Looking forward to Episode 1.
4) You know what forward came out looking the best from Thursday’s game vs. the Islanders? A player that wasn’t even on the ice…Nick Lappin. He did more for himself by not playing in that game than a lot of bubble guys did with significant ice time, which is crazy. Yes, the Devils controlled a lot of the possession numbers, though I think that was a product of systems and dominating the run of play when Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle were off the ice. I understand that one of the main thoughts from that game is that the Devils did not have a lot of their NHL talent on that team and while that’s true, Nick Lappin made the most of working with Blake Pietila and Brian Boyle. Not exactly bonafide skill players. Miles Wood probably lit up a cigar midway through that game.
5) Perhaps it’s not cause to panic since it’s preseason and a VERY small sample size, but the Devils 5-on-5 offensive rates thus far are ATROCIOUS. Especially when compared to last preseason:
Granted, they have the 5th lowest 5-on-5 TOI/GP this preseason but that’s no excuse…last preseason the team only had 11 seconds more per game of 5-on-5 time. Perhaps all of this can be chalked up to an unsustainable low shooting percentage, but they’ve also shot the puck way less so far. I think last year’s preseason really mattered in the team just rolling right into the month of October and getting out to that great start they rode through early April. Maybe they can turn it around with a trimmed-down roster against NYR and WPG. If not, hopefully we’re proven wrong when they get to Europe.
6) Little backstory before we get to the gist on this item. In the summer of 2011, I worked as a broadcast/media relations intern for the St. Paul Saints, an independent minor league baseball team in MN. A man by the name of Sean Aronson hired me…he was the #1 broadcaster and I was his #2. Great guy, even though he’s an LA Kings fan. He started a podcast a few years ago dedicated to telling stories of play-by-play broadcasters. He’s interviewed a bunch of great broadcasters from all the major pro sports. They are fun listens if you’re a media junkie like me. Last summer, he interviewed Carolina Hurricanes and NBC Sports play-by-play broadcaster John Forslund. At the 56:19 mark, he briefly details how he interviewed for the open New Jersey Devils radio PBP job in 1988. He was recommended to Lou Lamoriello by departing PBP man Dale Arnold, who went on to do play-by-play for the New England Patriots and the Boston Bruins. He didn’t end up getting the job…it went to Chris Moore who was there until the early 90s. You currently hear him on weekends at WFAN. Can you imagine if Forslund had gotten the job instead of Moore? Remember, Doc was off Devils TV games in the mid-80s when the team moved from MSG to SportsChannel. He was Marv Albert’s backup on radio for Rangers games and then he joined the Philadelphia Flyers TV crew on a full-time basis in the late 80s. Forslund ended up on TV for the Hartford Whalers in 1995. Knowing that…if Forslund took the NJD radio job in 1988, he probably would have taken over TV PBP duties for Gary Thorne in 1993 and would likely still be doing the games today.
Can you even process that?!? If one media decision was made differently by Lou, would we currently be revering and praising John Forslund and not Doc? Probably!