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10 TAKEAWAYS | 2019 in Review

Amanda Stein reviews 10 moments from 2019 as the year comes to an end, presented by Ticketmaster

by Amanda Stein amandacstein / NewJerseyDevils.com

NEWARK, NJ - It has been a year - a calendar year - of franchise shifting moves and moments over 2019. From big wins, lottery wins and a franchise player this calendar year had it all for the New Jersey Devils. Add to that several big charitable moments, a couple of viral tweets and player extensions and we've got ourselves quite a list. With help and suggestions from fans, we gathered together some of the best moments from the 2019 calendar year: 

1. JUNE 21 - JACK GOES FIRST OVERALL

No doubt this was the most popular: Martin Brodeur announcing in Vancouver Jack Hughes' name with the first overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The lead up had been exciting, critics debating whether Hughes or Kaapo Kakko would hear their name first, in the end, it was Jack who joined the New Jersey Devils as their second first overall pick in three seasons. 

Video: Devils draft F Jack Hughes No. 1

"I'm a pretty calm kid I think but the only time I really got nervous was when Ray [Shero] was talking up there for like two minutes or something," Jack said after being drafted. "That was really the only time I got nervous."

Hughes had 34 goals and 112 points in 50 games in his draft year for the USNTDP.

2. APRIL 8 - THE DRAFT LOTTERY 

There would be no Hughes had there not been a draft lottery win, which also clocked in as one of your most suggested Top 10 moments. 

It was April 9th, and New Jersey had just an 11.5% chance of seeing Bill Daly flip over the Devils logo to reveal the top pick - and yet, it still happened. Beating big odds, Daly flipped his card over and the Devils red logo was big and bright, as was general manager Ray Shero's smile. For a second time in three seasons, New Jersey had won the draft lottery. 

Tweet from @NJDevils: Chills. Number one pick coming soon #2019NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/rK0Iu9YAZl

"This is a great day for our franchise," Shero said after the lottery. 

Immediately the questions started between Hughes and Kakko, though Shero would never quite tip his hand definitively until the ultimate reveal. Perhaps the closest he came was in his conversation with Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman: 

"He's rated No. 1 in a lot of places," said Devils GM Ray Shero, who knows his father, Jim, very well. "I'll say the chance to draft someone like Jack is fantastic for our franchise."

3. OCTOBER 8 - BLAKE'S ONE-HANDED GOAL

One on-ice moment that many of you pointed to involved Blake Coleman. And how could we possibly forget this one? It was heralded as a potential "Goal of the Year" even before several teams had yet to even play their first game of the season.

In the Devils home opener, Coleman had just returned from losing eight teeth on his previous shift, to score a remarkable goal. Using his speed, Coleman hustled down the ice behind Winnipeg's Dmitry Kulikov, only to steal the puck at the blueline. And while Kulikov is attempting to stop Coleman, Blake without even looking and with just one hand on the stick flicks the puck past Laurent Brossoit to stun not only the Winnipeg goaltender but Coleman himself and everyone in the Prudential Center. 

Video: WPG@NJD: Coleman nets outstanding one-handed goal

It was a pretty remarkable goal and his celebration is one for the ages too - on his back, pumping towards the sky, it's been used in just about every highlight reel you'll find in the NHL this season. 

This wasn't the first time we've seen a one-handed Blake Coleman goal, but the only one that registered on the 2019 calendar. A big-time player, providing big-time exciting moments!

4. FEBRUARY 15 - SCHNEIDER'S WIN OVER WILD

Oh, it had been a long time coming. And the Devils locker room just exploded with excitement. Goaltender Cory Schneider just skated off the ice with his first victory in 14 months. It was Nico Hischier who secured the overtime victory against the Minnesota Wild on February 15, 2019 in a game where the Devils rallied for a 5-4 victory over Minnesota. 

Video: NJD@MIN: Schneider shuts down Spurgeon in overtime

Schneider didn't even start that game, he came in relief of Keith Kinkaid once the Devils fell behind 4-1 midway through the second period. Schneider played 36 minutes and made 15 saves, including three in overtime. 

"For anybody who knows me, I'm not overly emotional one way or another," Schneider said at the time. "I think everyone else was more excited about it than I was. For me, it's obviously relief, but, you know, it's my job, it's what I'm supposed to do. I wish it happened a lot more recently, but it's good to get it. Everyone in this room's been awesome with me, just encouraging me and supporting me and keeping me up, so hopefully, I can return the favor and just start playing some really good hockey consistently and get some more wins."

The win earned Schneider the infamous "Helmet", in which he conducted his post-game interviews.

Video: 2/15/19 Postgame: Cory Schneider

5. JUNE 22 - THE SUBBAN TRADE

If Hughes at the draft didn't create enough excitement, Day 2 in Vancouver started off with a bang for the Devils as well. Another big splash by GM Ray Shero brought P.K. Subban from the Nashville Predators to the New Jersey Devils, acquiring the former Norris Trophy winner before the day had started on the draft floor. 

"It's a great thing. It's great for our market, it's great for the Devils franchise," Shero said at the draft in Vancouver. "I think in our area, we deserve to have a Jack Hughes, a Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, and now P.K. Subban, and be relevant. It's entertainment business. That's what it's about. We want people to be passionate and hungry and want people give back to the community, and these kids do, and certainly P.K. does."

Subban's trade to New Jersey came as a stunning surprise to many, a massive deal that brought incredible excitement around the Devils franchise. Following his trade, the Devils hosted a welcome rally for the 30-year-old, drumming up even more excitement around the acquisition and his big personality. 

The Subban trade also marked the beginning of Blueline Buddies in Newark, a program Subban started in Nashville that bring two police officers from the precincts throughout Newark, and two youth from the Newark community to cultivate positive relationships. 

Subban treats them to dinner, seats and a meet-and-greet pre- and post-game. 

6. JULY 29 - THE GOOSE HAS LANDED

It was announced with a simple tweet. A tweet with one GIF that would set the Devils fanbase retweeting and responding in a fast and furious pace. 

Tweet from @NJDevils: pic.twitter.com/IZ3G1ZsESr

Another moment in the off-season that fired up the Devils fanbase: the acquisition of Nikita Gusev, a player that had never played in the NHL before, but that was joining the league with high pedigree. 

The 27-year-old Russian was coming off a KHL MVP season and had been with the Golden Knights during their playoff run, but never appeared in a game. Vegas, under a cap crunch, were unable to sign the restricted free agent, instead opting to trade him to New Jersey, upon which Shero immediately signed the winger to a two-year deal with $9 million. 

Gusev joined the Devils and while it took some time to adapt to the NHL game, sized ice and schedule it appears that Gusev has found his groove lately. He was held out of several games early in the season, but since then has been on a consistent line with Blake Coleman and Travis Zajac, a line that has been one of the Devils most constant and competitive. As of publication, Gusev is tied for first in assists on the Devils with 16 and tied for second in points (23). 

Gusev has instantly become a fan favorite, with cheers of "Goooooooose" at Prudential Center on a regular basis as he puts on display his incredible stickhandling moves and his knack for scoring with pin-point precision. 

 7. OCTOBER 18 - HISCHIER SIGNS EXTENSION

Nico Hischier goes about his business quite quietly. You won't ever catch the 20-year-old forward boasting about his play or personal accomplishments, instead he is as humble as they come, a real 'team-first' kind of player. 

Hischier signed a seven-year contract extension on October 8th, 2019 worth $50.75 million, with an annual average value of $7.25 million.

Tweet from @amandacstein: As the ink was drying on #NJDevils Nico Hischiers new contract, I sat down with Nico and GM Ray Shero: pic.twitter.com/pFRkHIaL7b

"I think we talked about a lot of stuff and I told him that I liked it here," said Hischier at the time. "I like what direction we're going. And he said he gives me the confidence I need. That's I think all the player can ask for, so that's why I like it here."
"I think Nico is a foundational piece for us," GM Ray Shero added. "This organization and Josh Harris and David Blitzer, our co-managing partners are aware of that. They know how he is for us both on and off the ice."

8. JANUARY 25 - PALMIERI REPRESENTS JERSEY AT ALL-STAR

Tweet from @NJDevils: Introducing for the first time at an #NHLAllStar, current team leader in points and goals - @kylepalmieri! #JerseysBoy | pic.twitter.com/DwnfITVYdh

From New Jersey, representing New Jersey: Kyle Palmieri was the Devils representative at the 2019 NHL All Star Game in San Jose. It was the first time the Jersey-native attended the event as a replacement vote for Taylor Hall who had been placed on injured reserve several days earlier. At the time of Palmieri's appearance, he was the Devils leading goal-getter with 22.

Tweet from @NJDevils: #JerseysBoy is headed to his first #NHLAllStar Weekend!@kylepalmieri will replace teammate Taylor Hall as the #NJDevils representative on Team Metropolitan in the 2019 @NHL All-Star Weekend. pic.twitter.com/LfND4lzJxW

Palmieri was part of the game-winning Metropolitan Division team and took part of the $1 million prize home after the 3-on-3 competition. He finished with one goal and an assists in the two 3-on-3 games played. 

Tweet from @NJDevils: .@kylepalmieri takes a moment to reflect on all the locals in New Jersey from his youth playing days that have helped him get to this stage.#NHLAllStar | #JerseysBoy pic.twitter.com/cICU443xhC

Palmieri will once again represent the Devils at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis.

9. FEBRUARY 23 - PALMIERI'S INAUGURAL MILITARY BALL

It had been quite a while in the making and in the end it turned into an incredible event. Kyle Palmieri grew his 'Squad21' program during Devils games into a full foundation that serves to support community members in the armed services. 

In March, and attended by all his teammates, Palmieri launched the inaugural Military Ball. The event raised over $100,000 which benefited Service Women's Action Network, National Military Family Association and Pets for Vets.

Every one of Palmieri's teammates came out to support him, as did coaches and former Devils players. 

"For my teammates to come out and support this event and my foundation, I'm extremely grateful," said Palmieri at the time. "It's hard to plan an event like this during the season, but I've got nothing but great support from the guys and the organization, in order to make the night a huge success. I'm really excited about it."

The event included VIP tickets that enabled guests to mix and mingle in a private cocktail area with Devils players and was later opened to General Admission tickets an hour later. 

"I just kept on wanting to try and do more," Palmieri said. "Seeing some of the things that are challenges in their everyday lives, whether it's while they're deployed and support is needed for their families, or support that they need when they come back… it's just so important for me to give back to the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country."

Supporting the military is a cause close to home for Palmieri, who has several active service members in his family.

"As many of you might know, supporting our military is deeply personal to me," Palmieri said at the 2019 ball. "My brother-in-law, Stephen, is an Army Ranger who's served three tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, and has dedicated his life to protecting and serving and our country. And my sister, Taylor, is a Sergeant and NCO in the Army National Guard - she's here with us tonight and I cannot begin to out into words how proud I am of her."

10. SEPTEMBER 3 - BRODEUR INAUGURAL MB:30 GOLF TOURNAMENT

 As we move into the year 2020, the 20th anniversary of the Devils franchises' second Stanley Cup victory. 

In order to begin to mark the 20th anniversary, Devils legend and Hockey Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur launched his Inaugural MB:30 Golf Invitational. It was the first major event hosted by Brodeur since his return to the New Jersey Devils as executive vice president of business development back in August 2018.  

Both current Devils players and alumni, particularly those from the 2000 Cup-winning team, joined Brodeur for the event at Plainfield Country Club.

Devils alumni Bob Carpenter, Ken Daneyko, Scott Gomez, Bobby Holik, Petr Sykora, Jim McKenzie, and John Madden will be among those in attendance. 

"Twenty years ago, we did a special feat winning the Stanley Cup here in New Jersey," Brodeur said. "And, obviously, throughout the course of the year, we'll do a lot of different events to invite these guys to come back in the organization and really celebrate the winning of that Stanley Cup."

The money raised at the event went to the Devils Care Foundation, which aims to facilitate life-changing opportunities through the power of sports and entertainment. The wide-reaching foundation focuses on areas where there are many challenges and an opening to make a difference and impact on the lives of others.

HONORABLE MENTION: APRIL 8

Simply, that time I unearthed an NHL secret.

Most (not all) NHL goalie creases are stickers and not actual paint! 

Tweet from @amandacstein: Prudential Center ice Until next year... pic.twitter.com/zAi2baQNP3

Sorry to bring it up again!

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