New Jersey Devils: Catching Up With Nathan Bastian

New Jersey Devils right wing Nathan Bastian (42): (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)
New Jersey Devils right wing Nathan Bastian (42): (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports) /

After being drafted 41st overall in the 2016 NHL Draft by the New Jersey Devils, Nathan Bastian ended up spending the next five years with the franchise, playing three full seasons with their AHL affiliate as well as one in the NHL. In 188 games with the Binghamton Devils, Bastian posted 80 points (44g-36a) and he added another 13 points (6g-7a) in 48 games with New Jersey before he was left unprotected, and subsequently selected by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 Expansion Draft.

On October 19, Bastian returned to New Jersey with his new teammates to finish off their season-opening five-game road trip and we were fortunate enough to speak with the 23-year-old Kitchener, Ontario native ahead of the game. While he didn’t play more than one full (shortened) season in the NHL, he was a part of the organization for five years. He was at development camps and training camps. He earned himself an NHL call-up at the end of the 2018-19 season and responded with three goals in his first seven games.

Bastian’s Back!

“Yeah it feels a little weird (to be back), I know I only played like 45-50 games here for the Devils, and it feels like they drafted me so long ago,” Bastian would say. “I’ve been a part of the organization for so long. I’m pretty excited to be back (here).”

Last season, he played in 41 of the Devils’ 58 games. He missed those 17 games due to a midseason injury, but when he was in the lineup, he was a part of head coach Lindy Ruff’s energy/fourth line. The trio of Bastian, Michael McLeod, and Miles Wood – the BMW line – were in the starting lineup nearly every game to set the tone right from jump street. They played fast, and with an edge, and really challenged opponents to keep their heads on a swivel.

He did admit that it would be odd playing against his Super Buddy McLeod for the first time ever, after growing up and going through so many things – whether it was playing for the Mississauga Steelheads in the OHL, getting drafted by the Devils, or rising to the NHL from the AHL.

“I have no idea what that will be like,” Bastian said with a smile when asked about facing off against McLeod. “We were linemates for like eight years or something. It will be interesting to see him on the other side tonight.”

New Puckheads on the Block

After the Kraken lost 4-2 to the Devils, Bastian and his teammates now head home for their first home opener at Climate Pledge Arena and he sounded pretty stoked about how everything has worked out since he became a part of the NHL’s 32nd franchise.

New Jersey Devils
Kraken goaltender Joey Daccord and Devils center Dawson Mercer: (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports) /

“It’s been awesome and I think everything around Seattle, the buzz around our team, has been really exciting. My teammates are awesome,” said Bastian. “Everything’s new right? From our rink to our management and our players. It will take a little bit of time to build this but we’re heading in the right direction and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Bastian was in the lineup for the franchise’s first-ever win, and he’s still seeking his first point with Seattle but has been a part of their fourth line for all five of their games thus far. We asked him what was the range of emotions he encountered through the process in the off-season and he happily obliged. Keep in mind that New Jersey re-signed him to a two-year deal on June 15, 2021.

“I definitely went through a couple of phases,” he told Pucks and Pitchforks. “Starting with loving where I was (in New Jersey), to being available (in the expansion draft), to wanting to be wanted, to having a new team. I’m truly thankful for everything during my time in New Jersey, but it’s about me now playing for Seattle and I am so grateful that I have this opportunity to prove myself as an NHLer. It’s unique to be a part of something that is starting from the ground up.”

See Ya in Seattle

And what is he expecting for the Kraken’s first-ever home game? Well, he was in the lineup when the Binghamton Devils played their first games too, so he does have some insight into what’s in store. He just has to extrapolate that experience times a lot.

“That day will be like this one was for me, a day that is circled on the calendar. We’ve caught a glimpse of our fans in the preseason, selling out rinks all around Seattle,” Bastian said. “The hype around our team, it will be a similar experience to our first game in Vegas I think – where it was pretty loud. We’re excited to get into that building and see our fans.”

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Bastian was a good soldier in the Devils Army. He’s not the most talented, nor the most skilled. But he always played hard, and he always had time for reporters such as myself. We wish him nothing but the best going forward with Seattle, except April 16 when New Jersey makes their first visit to Washington State.