5 Players To Watch During New Jersey Devils Training Camp
5 Players To Watch At Devils Camp
New Jersey Devils training camp is set to open up today for rookies and then later this week for the veterans. This season will have a very different look at camp. There are many new faces that need to be evaluated at this year's club. Positions need to be filled and lines need to be cemented.
From common knowledge, it looks like the Devils only really have a fight for one position on the roster: a third line left winger.
Of course, there will be plenty else to look for when camp starts. Most notably is seeing Jaromir Jagr in a Devils sweater for the first time. Other sights to be seen are how the goalie situation is worked out with Cory Schneider and Martin Brodeur, who they actually decide to use as their top line, if they keep the fourth line together or start to use them elsewhere, if some of the older defensemen will get their legs back after a dismal season, among others. That isn't what is going to be focused on here, however. What will be looked at are the players that aren't seen that often.
There are rookies who are trying to showcase their talents in case their number needs to be called down the line. There are players trying to secure their first professional contract who are fighting for everything they have dreamed up since they put on their first pair of skates. There are the guys who are fighting for that last spot on the main club so they can claim to be a professional hockey player. This is the training camp you should really pay attention to.
5. Jon Merrill
Jon Merrill is the highest-ranked prospect in the Devils system. He is somewhat of a mystery professionally. He hasn't played one minute of hockey in the NHL. He has only played eight games with the AHL club. He will be around players who fought to try and win a Stanley Cup in 2012. He is going to be coached by one of the best defensive players in the history of the game, Scott Stevens. For a guy who has been said to have some off-ice problems, it will be something to watch to see how he reacts around the veterans. Let's see why this guy is so highly ranked.
4. Remy Giftopoulos
Remy Giftopoulos is a name that almost no fans actually know. That is what is so intriguing about him. He was randomly given a camp tryout last week, and he will be looking to win an entry-level contract after scoring 25 goals split between two OHL teams. Based on his prospect analysis, he seems to be a player that would fit perfectly into the Devils system. He plays a two-way game while have a pretty shot. He is a hard nosed player that isn't afraid to fight. He will bring a lot to this team if he is given the chance to develop. It will be interesting to see what the team decides to do with him come the end of camp.
3. Reid Boucher
As you may have noticed, the picture that was used for Reid Boucher is of Petr Sykora. There is a method for this madness. Boucher seems to have a lot of the same skill that Sykora had. He isn't the best two-way player just yet, but he is surely a great shot. He seemed like he could score whenever he felt like it. It will be interesting to see how he reacts when it doesn't come that easily against professional competition. This will be a vital learning experience.
2. Rostislav Olesz
Rostislav Olesz is my prediction to win the final spot on the roster as far as starting forwards go. He is coming off an injury-riddled campaign with the Chicago Blackhawks last season. He takes a bunch of shots and will be well suited with the many players on the team who can put a rebound in the net (most notably Andrei Loktionov). If he is paired with the right players, he will succeed on this team and in camp.
1. Alexander Urbom
Alexander Urbom hasn't seen much ice time and he is a top prospect on the Devils. Then why does this seem like a make or break year for him? For years, fans have heard that this guy is NHL-ready. Then we never see him in the NHL. Urbom is in the final year of his entry level contract. He will be battling Merrill and Eric Gelinas for the seventh spot on a deep defense for the Devils. He is a towering figure, but he has to really work hard to make this team with how deep this position is.