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Hynes wants Tlusty to be 'impact player' for Devils

by Dan Rosen

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils coach John Hynes has high hopes for forward Jiri Tlusty, who signed a one-year, $800,000 contract on Wednesday and was at Prudential Center on Thursday for the first day of training camp.

"We got a real strong NHL player," Hynes said. "He's going to help provide depth not only on our team, but in our organization. Jiri can obviously score at the National Hockey League level, but the big thing we want to see from him is we want to see him be an impact player, a player that's going to compete, be strong on the puck, play with passion. That's what we expect from all our players and we're looking forward to having a player like him, who has a lot of NHL experience, come in and play with those attributes."

Tlusty combined for 31 points in 72 games with the Carolina Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets last season. He had eight points in 20 games with the Jets after getting traded from the Hurricanes.

Tlusty has 87 goals and 173 points in 416 NHL games. His best season was in 2012-13 when he set career-highs with 23 goals and 38 points in 48 games.

Hynes isn't sure if Tlusty will figure into the Devils top-six forward group, but he didn't rule out the possibility.

"That will be determined on his play," Hynes said. "Like any other player on the team, you want to have guys come in and compete and show us where they belong."

Hynes is including Lee Stempniak and Tyler Kennedy in that group. Stempniak and Kennedy are each in Devils' camp on professional tryout contracts.

Stempniak has 369 points in 708 NHL games, including 28 points in 71 games split between the Jets and New York Rangers last season.

Kennedy has 199 points in 477 games, including 14 points in 38 games split between the San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders last season. He won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009.

"They're no different than any other guy that is in camp," Hynes said. "It's a new year and we can't base it on reputation or years past. If you want to be a competitive team every night you want to have players who are competitive. To do that we have to base things on the now and how they play. Whether they're a PTO or a long-term contract, everyone is in the same boat as far as determining where they fit within the team."

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