The Summer of '17 has been one of the franchise's busiest in recent memory. Since the conclusion of the Devils' 2016-17 campaign, the organization won the NHL Lottery, selected Nico Hischier with the No. 1 overall pick, traded for Marcus Johansson and signed the NCAA Hobey Baker Award winner, defenseman Will Butcher. New Jersey has been buzzing for months, capturing countless headlines, making the start of training camp one of their most highly anticipated in recent memory.
Here's everything you need to know with the 2017-18 season on the horizon.
Welcome to Jersey
Get used to seeing some new faces in a new place this week. The Devils will have 14 players at camp this year who were not on New Jersey's roster or invited last season. Headlining the offseason veteran acquisitions are Johansson and Brian Boyle. Johansson landed with New Jersey in exchange for two 2018 NHL Draft picks. "MoJo" set several career highs last season in Washington, including goals scored (24) and points (58). Johansson brings a versatile skillset to the Devils' lineup by having the ability to play as a right wing or center. Boyle, who signed with New Jersey as a free agent on July 1, will bring leadership and experience. Expect Boyle to be a mainstay as a third/fourth line grinder.
Another interesting name to look out for is Drew Stafford. Stafford will turn 32 years old in October, making him one of the more seasoned right wingers on the Devils' roster. The 11-year veteran has top-six potential, assuming Kyle Palmieri will be New Jersey's top-line right winger. He'll have to hold off the Devils' youngsters in camp to earn that spot. With the additions of Johansson and Stafford, the Devils are expected to have two new faces in the top six.
Following the Devils' 2016-17 season, a reason to be optimistic for the future was the breadth of young talent in the pipeline. Not only is the talent pool strong, but they will be entering 2017-18 season with NHL experience. Pavel Zacha and Steve Santini were mainstays in the lineup all season and progressed all year. Miles Wood became a fan favorite, known for his elite speed, up-tempo style and willingness to drop the gloves when necessary. Stefan Noesen was claimed off of waivers and compliments Zacha when they skate together. John Quenneville and Joe Blandisi were able to show off the chemistry that the duo established in the AHL at the NHL level. Finally, UMass Lowell defenseman Michael Kapla and Providence College forward Kevin Rooney has short stints in New Jersey after signing as college free agents. Keep your eyes on this group as they will be battling for more playing time in the hopes of staying in the NHL.
Within a few months, Ray Shero and the Devils have turned a promising group of prospects into one of the league's elite. The additions of No. 1 overall NHL Draft pick Hischier and Hobey Baker Award winner Butcher will immediately make the Devils a faster and more offensively potent team come October. New Jersey's 2016 first-round pick (12th overall) Michael McLeod and 2015 third-round pick (67th overall) Blake Speers will be given a strong look once camp opens.
Shero and Coach John Hynes have stressed competition in previous camps, and this one will be no different. Due to the loss of Travis Zajac (torn pectoral muscle) the top line centerman position will be open. Adam Henrique, Zacha, Hischier, Boyle, McLeod and Speers all play the position and will be looking to stand out from the log jam. Palmieri and Stafford are the only right wingers with serious NHL experience, so the coaching staff will need to fill out the position in, presumably, the bottom six.
New Jersey has extended invites to a handful of tryouts for training camp. Forward Jimmy Hayes and defenseman Tim Erixon will skate with the team in hopes of earning a spot. Last season, forward Brian Gibbons was the only PTO to sign with the organization. He skated with Albany all of last year and re-signed to a one-year, two-way contract on July 1.
Keep following NewJerseyDevils.com and the Devils' social media accounts for all updates during 2017-18 Training Camp.