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Cory Schneider says Devils have improved in offseason

New Jersey goalie likes additions of forwards Brian Boyle, Marcus Johansson, No. 1 draft pick Nico Hischier

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Goaltender Cory Schneider knew change was inevitable after the New Jersey Devils failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fifth straight season, finishing in last place in the Eastern Conference.

He senses excitement with the additions of veteran center Brian Boyle via free agency, versatile forward Marcus Johansson via trade with the Washington Capitals and the selection of center Nico Hischier with the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

 

[RELATED: Hischier knows he has to work to make Devils | 10 things you might not know about Hischier]

 

"Management preaches to us what they're looking for and we have faith that they're going to target guys who can do that and when you have the first pick you can choose anyone you want and they obviously identified [Hischier] as the guy that fits the bill," Schneider said during a visit to Devils development camp at the Barnabas Health Hockey House on Wednesday. "It's tough as an 18-year-old with that kind of pressure as the first pick, but we're going to welcome him and if he makes the team out of camp, try to ease him into it.

"Hopefully we can let him be the player he is because by all accounts he's an incredible talent."

Schneider knows more changes could be made, but likes the look of the current roster.

"They have a very specific type player they're looking for and they've done a great job trying to acquire them," Schneider said. "If you look at our lineup compared to 2-to-3 years ago, just from a youth, speed and skill standpoint, it's much different."

There's no doubt Hischier could help provide more offense for the Devils, who ranked 28th in the NHL (180 goals scored) last season and tied for 29th with 114 goals scored 5-on-5. General manager Ray Shero and coach John Hynes realize the importance of scoring more if they are to end their steak of missing the playoffs at five seasons.

Schneider was happy to see Boyle, his college teammate, sign a two-year, $5.1 million contract on July 1. Boyle likely will serve as a solid third- or fourth-line center this season.

Video: Brian Boyle on signing with the Devils

"We spent three years together [at Boston College] so it's been fun to watch his career develop," Schneider said. "He's done a great job just staying in the League and becoming an impact player. He's well respected by coaches and players. He's at a point in his career where he probably had a few different avenues, but I'm glad he signed here."

Schneider, 31, said he felt responsible for the Devils defensive struggles last season after he finished with a career-high 2.82 goals-against average and career-low .908 save percentage in 60 games. New Jersey hired goalie coach Roland Melanson, who worked with Schneider for three seasons as the goalie coach for the Vancouver Canucks. Former Devils goalie coach Chris Terreri will assume a different role within the organization.

"If they're making this move because they want me to get better as I get older than I think that's a positive," Schneider said. "I don't take it as an indictment or a message; I take it more as we want you to be the best you can be. We don't want you to go backwards or plateau and maybe this move signifies that and says we're here to help you get better.

"Personally, it was a tough year all-around in terms of my performance. It feels a little tough for me because Chris possibly lost his position as goalie coach because of the year I had. I could have done better and played better; it's not a good feeling."

Schneider has a familiarity with Melanson and the transition should be seamless. Melanson has worked in the past as goalie coach with Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak with the Montreal Canadiens (1997-2009), in addition to Schneider and Roberto Luongo in Vancouver (2010-2017).

"I don't think [Melanson] is overly technical, he's making sure you're doing all the little things necessary to get your game to a point where you're not thinking about anything and that foundation of your game is there every night," Schneider said. "My game was largely based on his teaching in Vancouver so maybe he'll look at me and say, 'You changed a lot since we worked together, so let's dial it back.'"

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