That’s when they signed 2016 third-round draft pick Joey Anderson to his entry level contract, turning him pro following two seasons at Minnesota-Duluth.
Behind Anderson, the Devils haven’t traded for or signed any NHL forward depth outside of Kurtis Gabriel, who has been a career AHLer. The departures of Patrick Maroon, Michael Grabner and Brian Gibbons through free agency has left the Devils with spots to fill in the NHL, and as of now, they’re up for grabs for prospects such as Anderson, John Quenneville, Michael McLeod, Blake Speers and others.
“After talking to management, they said there’s spots available and it’s going to come down to who comes into camp ready to go,” Anderson said Tuesday at the start of Devils Development Camp. “That’s what I want to show them.
“My progress from when I was here in April until now has been getting better and better, and then I want to show them when I come back for rookie camp in September, I’m even better than I was now. I want them to see how serious I am about this, and put my best foot forward in camp and try to earn a spot.”
Since coach John Hynes took over the Devils in 2015, he hasn’t been shy about giving NHL opportunities to prospects, with some surprise players making NHL jumps. Speers made the team out of camp as a 19-year-old in 2016. Jesper Bratt played in the NHL all of 2017-18 at 19 after being a sixth-round pick.
Quenneville, who narrowly missed the final roster cut at 2017’s training camp, understands how the Devils approach their roster decisions. A strong showing can earn a player his spot, regardless of the competition around him.
“It’s NHL camp, so whether they signed or didn’t sign, guys are going to be coming in, competing for spots,” Quenneville said. “That’s the way it is and that’s the way it’s always been. Just tons of hungry players. There’s tons of good, young players. We had some great players playing for Binghamton last year.”
By that same logic, Quenneville knows nothing with be handed out in September and October. So far this offseason, he’s focused on improving where coaches have told him to improve.
“Definitely working on my conditioning, working on my fitness level,” he said. “Like any (summer), you’re rebuilding everything. I’m working on my skating, I’m working on my shooting, I’m working on my offensive tactics. I’m working on everything. Every player needs to work on that.”