Believe it or not, the Conference Finals are halfway over as the Colorado Avalanche swept the Edmonton Oilers last night to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Hockey fans have been blessed with two great matchups as the Western Conference Final showcased the offensive powerhouses of Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavid while the Eastern Conference Final features two of the best goaltenders in the league in Andrei Vasilevskiy and Igor Shesterkin. Even though the New Jersey Devils began their offseason early, there are plenty of connections to the final four teams. Let’s take a look at some of their former players and siblings of current players who are competing for the Stanley Cup this year.
Former Devils Players
During the 2017-18 season, New Jersey made a trade with the Oilers that brought forward Pat Maroon to the Devils. Former Devils general manager Ray Shero was looking to bulk up his roster as the team was in a position to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2012 when they made the Stanley Cup Final.
“He has experience, especially in the playoffs,” said Shero at the time. “He’s done a really good job in Edmonton and in Anaheim and has played with good players. Not everyone can play with players like [Connor McDavid]. It’s important that we support the development of our younger players both on and off the ice, and physically. We’re not looking too far ahead, but for meaningful hockey, and that’s a fun part of development and excitement for the fans.”
Maroon appeared in 17 regular-season games, putting up 13 points and adding one goal in Round 1 of the postseason against the Tampa Bay Lightning, which his team lost in five games. His link to New Jersey continues to come up this postseason as that first-round matchup against the Lightning was the last time he had lost a playoff series. Since leaving New Jersey he won his first Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues and back-to-back championships with the Lightning.
This postseason Maroon finds himself on the fourth line alongside Pierre-Édouard Bellemare and Jan Rutta. Through the first three rounds, he has three points including the game-winning goal in Game 4 against the Florida Panthers.
Kevin Rooney & Keith Kinkaid
Devils fans are programmed to have a distaste for the New York Rangers. With that being said, there are two former players who are currently members of Blueshirt nation.
Kevin Rooney went undrafted and on March 29, 2016, made his professional debut with the Albany Devils of the American Hockey League (AHL) on an amateur try-out. He spent the next four seasons between the AHL and NHL making his debut with the big club in March of 2017 against the Washington Capitals. The 6-foot-2 forward appeared in 95 games for New Jersey putting up 19 points. He then signed with the Rangers as a free agent and is currently in his second season with the club. This postseason, he appeared in all seven games in Round 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins putting up two assists. During Round 2 against the Carolina Hurricanes, he played in five games and has not been in the lineup since May 26.
Related: Behind the Mask with Keith Kinkaid
It is safe to say Keith Kinkaid was a fan favorite during his time with the Devils as his “Kincode” became a favorite among fans on Twitter. The 32-year-old goaltender was undrafted like Rooney and signed an entry-level contract with the Devils in April of 2011 and made his debut with the big club in March of 2013 as he entered the game in a relief role against the Lightning. He remained with the organization for six seasons.
During the 2017-18 season, the Devils lost Cory Schneider to a groin injury which allowed Kinkaid to serve as the starter. The New York native performed well, posting a 2.77 GAA and a .913 save percentage. On April 5, 2018, he made 30 saves to help the Devils beat the Toronto Maple Leafs and clinch their first playoff spot since 2012.
The next season the Devils traded him to the Columbus Blue Jackets, which could be easy to forget as he did not make an appearance with the organization. As a free agent, he signed a one-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens in the summer of 2019, and when his contract expired, the 6-foot-3 goaltender signed a two-year, $1.65 million contract with the Rangers. With the emergence of Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, Kinkaid only played one game even though he remains on the active roster.
It was only last season that Ryan Murray was patrolling the blue line in New Jersey, as the former second-overall pick was traded to the Devils from the Blue Jackets in exchange for a 2021 fifth-round draft pick. He appeared in 48 games, earning 14 assists.
As a free agent, he signed a one-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche last offseason. He appeared in 37 regular-season games earning four assists. On Nov. 27, 2021, against the Nashville Predators, Murray sustained a lower-body injury. He returned to the lineup on Jan. 6, 2022, but was sidelined again with a hand injury in late March. The 6-foot-1 defenseman was medically cleared in May but has yet to play a game this postseason.
Brotherly Love in Tampa & Edmonton
This season, Devils fans became re-introduced to prospect Nolan Foote who appeared in seven games in New Jersey earning four points. The 21-year-old finished the season on a three-game point streak before being assigned to the team’s AHL affiliate the Utica Comets. His older brother, Cal Foote, was a first-round draft pick by the Lightning and was part of their 2021 championship team. This postseason, the defenseman registered two assists in the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The New Jersey forward shared on Instagram that he was in attendance as the Lightning beat the Florida Panthers in Game 4.
Michael McLeod has been in the Devils’ organization since the 2017-18 season. His younger brother Ryan was drafted by the Oilers 40th overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and finished his first full regular season with the club in April. Like his older brother, Ryan is a bottom-six center who played with Warren Foegele and Jesse Puljujarvi this postseason. In 16 playoff games, the 6-foot-2 forward had four points (three goals, one assist).
In addition to an exciting Stanley Cup Final, there is a 100 percent chance that a former Devils player will hoist the Stanley Cup this year. Maroon is just the fourth NHL player to win three straight Stanley Cups with two different teams and is on his way to a fourth straight championship.
Which of the above players do you think has the best chance to hoist Lord Stanley in the next few weeks? Leave a comment below.