Now in the midst of his second Development Camp with the New Jersey Devils goaltender Evan Cormier is a little less nervous, a little wiser, and more focused on what he needs to continue doing as he develops under the tutelage of an NHL franchise. The 19-year-old Cormier was drafted in the 4th round (105 overall) of the 2016 NHL Draft by New Jersey and has spent the past three seasons with the Saginaw Spirit in the OHL.
“I felt pretty good. I feel like I came more prepared this year, I kind of knew what to expect,” said Cormier after day two of the 2017 Development Camp. “I feel a little more comfortable here this time for sure.” Which he should. He was at last year’s camp as well as the team’s main training camp before the Devils sent him back to tend goal for the Spirit.
Those experiences are invaluable for impressionable, young hockey players, and what they do with them is up to them. “Just being around the pros, seeing what they do every day at the rink – that really helped me,” the goaltender told The Hockey Writers. “I took a lot of it back to to my junior team and that really helped me at the start of our year.”
This past year, despite his team not being able to qualify for the postseason he set career highs in wins, shutouts, goals-against average and save percentage. Many nights in the OHL last season Cormier was trying to stop some of his teammates in the Devils organization.
One week it was Nathan Bastian and Michael McLeod with Mississauga, the next week maybe it was Blake Speers and Colton White with the Greyhounds and then also now add in Marian Studenic of Hamilton who was just drafted (Round 5, 143 overall) by New Jersey a few weeks back.
As one would expect the Devils’ prospects usually were sure to let one another know who got the better of who after their on-ice battles in the OHL last season. “Sometimes we (will) tease each other a bit,” Cormier said with a smirk about earning some bragging rights. “We hang out with each other around the camp, they’re all great guys and really good hockey players. It’s great to have that friendship with them and to also compete against them in the OHL.”
— A.J. Walczak (@coachwalczak) July 13, 2017
The Next Step
Next season it is expected that the Albany, err Binghamton Devils (sorry, old habits die hard) will be employing some combination of Mackenzie Blackwood, Ken Appleby and Scott Wedgewood in goal, so where does that leave Cormier in the franchise’s plans?
“Right now I’m not too sure what’s going to happen. I’m just going to train really hard and come to New Jersey (in September) for training camp and hope for the best,” he told THW, understanding that the likely scenario at this point in time is that the team sends him back to Saginaw at some point in September.
Student of the Game
Like most goalies, when he watches hockey games Cormier focuses on the goaltenders – always trying to learn things that he can apply to his own game. “Currently I like to watch Carey Price, he’s a great goaltender,” said Cormier. “There are a lot of great goalies in the NHL right now. I just try to learn from watching all of them.”
When we spoke with the Devils’ prospect he had just finished playing in the team’s 3-on-3 tournament (his team finished in second place) where the rink is cut in half and two games are played simultaneously with the stands filled with season ticket holders. To be honest, it’s a rough set-up for the goalies throughout the four, seven-minute games that each team plays.
“It is a little difficult because there is no crease or anything like that,” Cormier admitted with a smile, before adding, “it’s a really tight, small, fast game. But it’s great to be competitive amongst a really high class of skilled players. It’s for fun and for the fans; I enjoyed myself today.”
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.