New Jersey Devils Have Plenty Of Talent

BRIDGEPORT, CT - NOVEMBER 7: John Quenneville #17 of the Binghamton Devils awaits a face off during a game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Webster Bank Arena on November 7, 2018 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. (Photo by Gregory Vasil/Getty Images)
BRIDGEPORT, CT - NOVEMBER 7: John Quenneville #17 of the Binghamton Devils awaits a face off during a game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Webster Bank Arena on November 7, 2018 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. (Photo by Gregory Vasil/Getty Images) /

Lots of fans rail against Ray Shero for not acquiring more talent. However, it could easily be contended that the Devils have plenty of talent, the organization  just chooses not to give certain players a chance.

"Some say the New Jersey Devils, specifically Ray Shero, did not do enough to stock the proverbial cupboard this off-season. While one could debate the wisdom of Mr. Shero (there really was not a lot out there in the free agent market and what was available ended up being overpriced) on that front, an entirely different topic centers around the quality of prospects currently present within the organization. Here is a look at the most promising players within New Jersey’s talent pool and some options for using them sooner rather than later."

Michael McLeod (Draft Year 2016, Round 1, 12th Overall Pick)

McLeod is a product of the Ontario Hockey League, where he enjoyed three solid years. He has represented his country, Canada, in several international competitions.

He has good size at 6’2″ and is a swift and powerful skater.  He’s having a solid, but not spectacular year, with the B-Devils thus far and in development camp and the pre-season showed he is a dangerous man when carrying the puck into the zone.

Sure, one could certainly contend McLeod is benefiting from the seasoning and experience he is garnering in the AHL, but it’s hard to contend that he does not have much more upside than current Devils bottom-six forwards Brett Seney or J.S. Dea. Giving the former Mississauga Steelhead standout a shot to see if his size and speed deliver value at the NHL level is not the worst idea on the world.

"There is talent in the club’s pipeline. They just are not using it."

John Quenneville (Draft Year 2014, Round 1, 30th Overall Pick)

Quenneville is a particular mystery to me and many Devils’ fans. This year, he makes the team out of camp drawing complements from the coaching staff on his enthusiasm and spirit. Then, the team wins four straight games. But, at that point, Quenneville is promptly dispatched to the minors with some vague comment about making better decisions in the offensive zone branded upon him.

But, with offensive ability supposedly being at forefront of the organization’s mind, he is soon replaced with a player like Kevin Rooney who brings absolutely nothing to the table in the offensive zone.

Since his demotion, Quenneville has close to a point a game. So it would appear his offensive game is just fine, thank you very much. Why this first round talent is not at the NHL level is totally beyond me.

The number of first and second round draft pick languishing in Binghamton is shocking.

Mackenzie Blackwood (Draft Year 2015, Round 2, 42nd Overall Pick)

Let me first stipulate that any comments here are based on an incredibly small sample size. I totally get that Blackwood had a bad year in 2017-18. However, this year, his save percentage in Binghamton is .923 and all reports are he’s playing quite well.

Can I sit here and tell you he is ready for the NHL? No, I can’t. But in a world where Cory Schneider is in the funk of all funks, do I think it might be worthwhile to give Blackwood a shot at a game or two? Yes, it might be.  Again, we are not talking about years and years of solid performance. But we all live in the moment, right? And at this moment, the Devils’ new “MB” might be worth a look.

Steven Santini and Josh Jacobs (Draft Years 2013 and 2014, Round 2, 42nd Overall Pick)

I’m choosing to group these two together for convenience.  They have both been successful within the organization, Santini with some solid stretches of play at the NHL level and Jacobs currently sporting a team leading +12 plus/minus rating down on the farm.

They both have good size at 6’2″ and there are reasons players are drafted in the second round, of course (good athletes, strong skaters, etc). Either or both of these budding blueliners might provide a welcome respite to the tired, older legs of Andy Greene or Ben Lovejoy.

You never know with younger defenders, they do take time to develop, but there are plenty of other highly successful organizations such as the team who smoked the Devils over the weekend (Tampa) who seem to find ways to play young defensemen like Erik Cernak and Mikhail Sergachev. If a great organization like the Lightning can figure that out, one would think the Devils might be able to do so too.


So, there you have it.  Five players in the organization, right now, who are arguably more talented or currently more productive that some of the incumbents on the New Jersey Devils. The Devils do indeed actually do have plenty of talent, in my view.

All it would take is someone like a Ray Shero or John Hynes with a reasonably sized set of kahunas to be bold and throw some of these higher-ceiling gentlemen into the fray. Believe me, I don’t think the city of Newark would burn to the ground if the some of the under-performers on the squad (the likes of J.S. Dea, Brett Seney, Ben Lovejoy, Andy Greene, Cory Schneider, etc.) took a seat in the suites for a week or two to see how this might work out.

One thing is for sure, nothing could be as bad as the past month. It’s time for Jersey’s Team to get some more talent on the ice and see what happens.

dark. Next. John Hynes Top Ten Mistakes