NEWARK, NJ - The Devils signing of Matt Tennyson in the off-season didn't garner the same blueline headlines as the trade for P.K. Subban, and his battle for a roster spot hasn't had as many eyes on it as Ty Smith's.
But with just two pre-season games remaining, Tennyson's name remains listed on the Devils camp roster. He's competing with the rest of the defense.
Video: PRACTICE REPORT | Tennyson Earns Look
"He's a big, strong player," said Devils Head Coach John Hynes. "He ends plays well, he plays with some nastiness, he's physical, moves the puck simple. So he's made a real strong case for himself. And he's providing some things that we feel that our d-core needs."
Maybe it's time to at least watch Tennyson a little closer.
The 29-year-old blueliner signed a two-year, two-way deal with New Jersey on the opening day of NHL free agency. He spent the last two seasons splitting time between the AHL and NHL in the Buffalo Sabres organization.
I'm happy with how it's gone," Tennyson said of his training camp and pre-season. "This is my eighth-year pro, so I've been through the wringer. I kind of know what to expect with every team and every camp. There's a lot of competition. I try not to do anything different, just go out and play my game and, hopefully, the coaching staff likes my game.
The veteran of 124 NHL games (Buffalo, Carolina, and San Jose) describes himself as a two-way defender who just tries to stick to his own game.
Video: RAW | Matt Tennyson
"You have to be good at defensively, it's just part of the game," he said. "But I like to jump up in the play, shoot the puck a lot, and just try to be an all-around solid player."
When he's engaged in a game and feeling at his best, he's being active on the offensive side of things.
"Spending little time in the d-zone always more fun," Tennyson said. "More fun for me, more fun for the team, obviously. It means you're doing well in the d-zone, which means you're playing on offense. More time [in the offensive zone is a good sign."
Tennyson's ability to move the puck and his propensity to make the simple plays have made a good impression on players around the Devils locker room.
"He's been great," said Michael McLeod. "He's a bigger guy and he's a good puck mover. He's been good at moving the puck up and kind of finding centers underneath and moving it up quick. He's here for a reason."
There are always surprises at NHL training camps. Young guys step up, top prospects show they need more seasoning, and veteran under-the-radar signings show they deserve more attention. Tennyson is providing healthy competition for the Devils and the leaders in the locker room love it.
"I think he's been fantastic," said Captain Andy Greene. "He's just made plays that are there. He doesn't overcomplicate things and he can make the plays. I think he's been skating really well and it's been good. That's what you need in camp and throughout the regular season. We need guys to push each other, we need surprises. We need guys that are going to step up here and push each other for jobs."
So far, Tennyson has done just that. He's pushed for a job. Now it's time to see how the roster shakes out.