Photo: Forward Reid Boucher is one of the more promising forwards in the New Jersey Devils prospect pool. Boucher started the 2014-15 season in the AHL, but should be among the first forwards recalled by the Devils in case of injury. (courtesy of Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)
Since the 2004 lockout, the New Jersey Devils system has not produced the same quality of prospects they were known for during their glory days. This is a result of different issues, like lack of picks, location on the draft board, or losing the magic touch to find late-round gems. But over the past seven years, management has slowly restocked the prospect pool where depth and quality are now returning NHL ready players.
Photo: Bridgeport Sound Tigers defenseman and New York Islanders prospect Kevin Czuczman saw some action in the NHL at the end of last season, but will begin the 2014-15 season with the Sound Tigers (courtesy of Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)
With the Adirondack Phantoms re-locating to Allentown and moving to the East Division, the 2013 Eastern Conference champion Syracuse Crunch have been added to the AHL‘s Northeast Division. With a lot of roster turnover amongst all of the teams and a new team in the mix, the division appears to be up for grabs in 2014-15. Read more»
Photo: Defenseman Jon Merrill had a strong rookie pro season in 2013-14, managing two goals and nine assists in 52 NHL games. (courtesy of Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
Thanks to a few rookies stepping up last season, the New Jersey Devils feel comfortable to trust their prospects with bigger roles going forward. The change has already started on the blue line, but the transition with forwards might take a while.
Photo: Forward Ben Thomson played a key part of North Bay’s deep run through the OHL playoffs. New Jersey signed Thomson to an entry-level deal on May 23rd, 2014. (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
While the New Jersey Devils missed the 2013-14 NHL playoffs, quite a few of their prospects had impactful postseasons. Their AHL affiliate reached the playoffs for the first time since 2010, giving many pro prospects their first taste of the postseason. Other players at lower levels, such as Damon Severson and Ben Thomson, also had strong playoff performances.
Photo: Defenseman Jon Merrill continues to be the top prospect for the New Jersey Devils. Merrill was selected in the second round of the 2010 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Rich Graessle/Icon SMI)
Whether or not the New Jersey Devils reach the postseason, management can be satisfied with the NHL-ready talent waiting in the wings. Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill have shown they can become impactful blueliners, as has the recently re-acquired Alexander Urbom.