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Brunner suits up for Devils practice

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils

On his first day at Devils practice, free agent forward Damien Brunner was thrown right into the mix.

The 27-year-old was featured on the right side of a line with Patrik Elias at center and Dainius Zubrus, and practiced the power play on a unit with Travis Zajac and prospect Reid Boucher.

"The legs were there, but the hands were a little bit stiff," Brunner said.

Brunner, who arrived Monday on a pro tryout, is getting a close look as a potential asset for the Devils' offense. He's possible for Thursday, when the Devils continue the preseason schedule against the Islanders at Prudential Center.

After putting up 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) in 44 games with Detroit last season, then adding nine points (5 goals, 4 assists) in 14 playoff contests, the Zurich native still wants to show the Devils that he can contribute.

"That's where I have to make an impression: to create offense and make some good plays and try to shoot the puck as much as I can," he said. "We'll see how that goes eventually on Thursday."

If he signs, Brunner would join Jaromir Jagr, Ryane Clowe, Rostislav Olesz and Michael Ryder among the club's new faces at forward.

"When change is made, it's always nice to be a part of a new group and bring some new energy in," he said. "Obviously, like I said [Monday], the Devils are a first-class organization. You already can feel it by only being here one day and I hope it all turns out well."

Head coach Peter DeBoer saw positive signs in Brunner's first day on ice and didn't rule him out for Thursday.

"Pretty savvy guy," DeBoer said. "He's got some skill, he's always moving. He's got a good stick. He looks like a good offensive player."

Could Brunner help bolster the power play?

"I don't think there's any mistaking what he is," said DeBoer. "He's here to bring speed and bring some offense and bring some creativity."

• Jagr, who has not skated since training camp opened last Thursday, could be closer to a return.

"He looks better and he's talking about skating here in the next 24 hours," DeBoer said.

• Clowe and Ryder have been together on a line for much of camp, but DeBoer said not to look too much into the forward combinations at camp thus far.

"It's too early to plug these guys into holes," he said. "There's heavy competition for roster spots and then depending on who makes it, then we'll fill in guys in their appropriate spots."

Tuesday's morning session:

Ryane Clowe - Travis Zajac - Michael Ryder
Dainius Zubrus - Patrik Elias - Damien Brunner
Rostislav Olesz - Andrei Loktionov -
Mattias Tedenby - Jacob Josefson - Stefan Matteau
Ryan Carter
- Stephen Gionta - Reid Boucher

Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Andy Greene
- Adam Larsson
Alexander Urbom
- Damon Severson
Eric Gelinas
- Jon Merrill

Martin Brodeur
Scott Wedgewood

PP units:

Clowe - Elias - Ryder
Gelinas - Zidlicky

Boucher - Zajac - Brunner
Greene - Larsson

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