This afternoon, Tom Gulitti got the news of the first group of players cut from training camp by the New Jersey Devils. Here's the complete list of those who got cut:
Most of these players are now assigned to Albany Devils of the AHL. This doesn't mean they'll definitely play there in 2010-11, some may be sent down another level and play for the Trenton Devils of the ECHL. Four will go back their respective junior teams: Wedgewood (Plymouth), Clermont (Gatineau), Owen (Moncton), and Nesbitt (Ottawa).
The most surprising cut on this list is Adam Henrique. Back in July, there was some positivity about his chances. When Gulitti interviewed him at the rookie camp, even Henrique felt he had an opportunity. Given the Devils' need for centers and Henrique coming off a strong final year in junior, I thought he'd at least get a game. Tomorrow would have been a good time to give him a shot since it was revealed Jacob Josefson has a sore foot and won't play. I thought he'd get a good long look in camp before being sent down; but, he's in first group that was cut.
Since training camp isn't open to the public, I can't say anything about how Henrique performed. I truly do not know how well he did. In retrospect, Adam Mair and Marcus Nilson coming in on try-out contracts could have undercut Henrique's (and other center's) chances. They are both capable of playing center, both are veterans, and both have played center at some point in the two preseason games they were in (Nilson filled in for Josefson last night). While either may shore up the team's depth at center, it means someone's on the outside. That someone may just be Henrique. I did say in the preview that being sent down to the AHL wouldn't be the worst thing. It is Henrique's first season of pro hockey, after all. Again, I'm just surprised that the decision was made now.
Turning that around, I look at who's left in camp and I'm surprised by a number of the names there.
Gulitti's post also has a helpful list of the 43 players left in training camp. I've bolded a number of names who have something in common:
Goaltenders (4):, , , .
Defensemen (14):, , , Mark Fraser, , , , Anssi Salmela, , , Matt Taormina, Alexander Urbom, , .
Forwards (25):, , , Patrik Elias, , Jacob Josefson, , Jamie Langenbrunner, , Adam Mair, , Brad Mills, Marcus Nilson, , , , , , , , Alexander Vasyunov, , , , .
All of the names I've bolded have not played a preseason game yet. That strikes me as something odd.
Anssi Salmela is clearly among this group since he's still recovering from a serious knee injury suffered back in May. He's going to start the season on long term injured reserve, as reported earlier this month by Gulitti, so of course he hasn't played. However, consider the other players. Do any of those bolded aside from Salmela and possibly Eckford have a real shot of making it past the second set of cuts? All of them except for McIntyre played in Lowell for most of last season, and McIntyre joined Lowell after his senior season at Colgate anyway. In my training camp preview, I regarded most of them as long shots to make it in New Jersey. I still do, and I'd definitely include Sestito now that the fourth line center spot competition includes a recent challenger in Adam Mair, who's done well enough to get two straight preseason games. One would think that if they've played well in camp, they would have convinced MacLean to put them in one of the early preseason games, no?
Tyler Eckford is the only healthy player bolded on this list that doesn't make me raise my eyebrow. He missed the early part of camp, mourning a death in his family, returning back on Sunday. Given his skillset and that he's had a taste of the NHL, I can see the Devils putting him in a game. After all, Matt Taormina and Eric Gelinas got one, why not the more experienced Eckford?
As for the rest, why are they still around? I can understand the desire for longer looks at played, and I concede it could be that they've done well enough in camp to not be cut and just not picked yet to be in a game. Though, it is a little hard to swallow saying that, say, Patrick Davis has done well but not enough to get on a game lineup over, say, Nick Palmieri. Then again, there are a lot of players in camp and only so many spots. Perhaps that's the plan in New Jersey - we may see them put into a game situation soon, see how they do, and then the coaches have more reason to make a decision next week. I can see that. I would understand that as the reason as to why they are still in Newark. It would even help explain why Henrique was cut, since three of those bolded players - Sestito, McIntyre, and Swift - are centers. But if it's not the plan, then I'm just confused as to why they weren't cut along with the other 19 today.
All the same, I wish those who were cut the best of luck. Should they work hard and perform, who knows, we may see them during the season. Those who survived the cuts, congratulations, but don't take it easy. The Devils have two preseason games in the next four days, and the second set of cuts may come after this coming Tuesday. Keep working hard and make the decision of who to cut even more difficult.
Now that the Devils made their first set of cuts, I want to know what you think about this. Are you surprised as to who they cut? Are you surprised as to who they didn't cut? Please leave your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading.