New Jersey Devils Prospect Report
The New Jersey Devils rely on their farm system as much as any team in the NHL. General manager Lou Lamoriello has gotten comfortable with letting star players walk in free agency. He has the confidence that guys like Zach Parise can be replaced in house.
The current prospect pool is well, mixed. The organization is thin at forward but has several monster defensemen down the pipeline.
The end of the Martin Brodeur era is looming. Is there a successor waiting in the wings?
A few guidelines: Stefan Matteau isn't included. Despite being a healthy scratch a lot of the time he has been with the big league club his entire, albeit extremely brief, NHL career. If a player has gotten a significant look with New Jersey, then he is out too. Guys like Mattias Tedenby and Jacob Josefson fall in to this category.
Here are 10 names to look for in the coming years.
F Reid Boucher
Lou Lamoriello made the most of this fourth-round pick in 2011. In 61 games with the OHL's Sarnia Sting Reid Boucher is tearing it up with 57 goals and 28 assists. The lefty has a lightning-quick release.
Boucher is only 19 years old and will need to get stronger as his size does not stand out. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the Devils to bring him to the NHL. Those numbers speak for themselves.
F Blake Coleman
Taken a round before Reid Boucher, Blake Coleman's performance in his sophomore season at Miami Ohio has been puzzling.
He has 14 points in 34 games after registering 23 points in his freshman year. He does, however, lead the Red Hawks in shots.
With two more years in college, there is no need to rush this Texas native.
F Blake Pietila
Another member of the 2011 draft class, Blake Pietila recorded 24 points in his freshman year at Michigan Tech, where he plays alongside his brother and his cousin.
At just 20 years old he is another guy who won't crack the NHL for a few more years. He is just a sophomore, but the Devils should be excited the way he can play in both zones, blocking a lot of shots for his college team.
F Harri Pesonen
The Devils signed Harri Pesonen this past June. After years in the Finnish professional league, it is going to take time for him to adjust to the North American style of play, characterized as more physical on a smaller ice sheet.
His first year with Albany has been encouraging, with 23 points through 48 games. Once he acclimates more, the Devils hope he can bring the type of skill shown in the video above to Newark.
D Alexander Urbom
Alexander Urbom had a cup of coffee with New Jersey in the beginning of last season, but not enough to take him out of the category of "prospects."
The big Swede was an AHL All-Star last year, where his 6'5" frame is impossible to ignore.
Still just 22, Urbom has the potential to be a 10-15 year stalwart on New Jersey's blueline.
D Damon Severson
Life isn't easy in the rough and tumble Western Hockey league. The Canadian Junior league is played in a cold and lonely landscape and produces most of the NHL's enforcers.
Damon Severson doesn't fall into that mold. He is an exceptional puck mover from the defensive position. He has size and skating ability to accompany his 38 assists so far this year. Keep an eye out for this guy.
D Brandon Burlon
Burlon is another youngster who will fortify New Jersey's defensive corps in the years to come.
He is a strong skater and with 13 assists in 35 games in Albany this year, and can contribute to the offense.
D Eric Gelinas
A second-rounder in 2009, Gelinas may be the most impressive defensive prospect.
Last season he scored 16 goals, tied for the league best in terms of goals scored by a defenseman. His scoring touch has cooled down this year but at 21 he has to have Lou Lamoriello excited.
At 6'4" he can really bring it from the point. Gelinas could anchor the power play for a decade or so if he pans out.
G Keith Kinkaid
Oh me oh my, the harsh reality of life without Martin Brodeur...
Marty's skates will be impossible to fill. I feel sorry for the guy who has to take his place in net, like the next shortstop for the New York Yankees.
If he is coming from within the organization, that guy may be Keith Kinkaid. He is getting a small taste of what that may be like right now. With Brodeur sidelined with a sore back Kinkaid was just called up to relieve Johan Hedberg.
For so many reasons the Devils need Brodeur to play next year, one of them being Kinkaid's development.
G Maxime Clermont
Wouldn't it be romantic if Brodeur's successor was also a Montreal kid?
Clermont is the more raw of the two goalie prospects, and wouldn't be the answer to the starting vacancy if Marty decides to retire after this year. He has struggled at times, bouncing between the AHL and ECHL. He's been bumped to Albany again as the dominoes fall from Brodeur's injured status.
But he has the skills, and the chance to work with Devils special assistant Jacques Caron, Brodeur's mentor.