Since the season started, a few players have been brought up and down from the New Jersey Devils taxi squad and Binghamton Devils as games went on to get NHL experience and possibly help the team’s subpar play lately. Many tried to solidify their spot with the New Jersey Devils when given their chance in the NHL, and since the trade deadline on April 12, many have flourished. Here’s a look at both the taxi squad members and AHL players who’ve been called up at one point and made an impact on the roster.
The Taxi Squad: Merkley, Butcher, Carrick and Boqvist
All these players are members of the taxi squad and have brought something to the table. Despite being consistently scratched, Nick Merkley has the most games played of the three with 24. He applies offensive pressure and racked up two goals, eight assists, and 35 shots while also bring a bit of physical play to the Devils, something they need more of this season. Since the deadline, Merkley has four assists, and he is sure to add to that as the season winds down. He’s proven he can keep up with the pace of the NHL and has become more noticeable with each game and playing alongside different linemates.
Will Butcher and Connor Carrick have recently shown they play well together as defensive partners. Individually, Butcher has 17 games played with a goal and eight assists, six of them after the trade deadline. He has two multi-assist games, tallying three on April 20 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and two on Thursday night versus the Philadelphia Flyers.
Meanwhile, Carrick has seven games played with a goal and assist. However, since the trade deadline, he’s only scored points on April 27 – a snipe off the far post from the circle to give the Devils a 4-3 lead and an assist – but even without points, he has been a positive force.
Carrick is establishing himself as a shutdown defenseman, another asset the team needs this season. He has contributed in each game with at least a few blocks in each and is not afraid to include some physical play, as we saw in the April 29 game against the Flyers. Both players have been consistently good and make a difference alongside their partner each game, equally contributing with those assists as defensive partners.
Not to mention Jesper Boqvist has made his mark in the 22 games he has played with the team this season. He has three goals and three assists – including a one-timer against the Flyers to give the Devils a 3-1 lead last night, and the sweet set-up came from Merkley to add another assist. Although there are only a few points to show for it, Boqvist is making the best of his opportunity.
The AHL Players: Studenic, Foote, White and Bahl
There is less to say about these Binghamton Devils who have each had a chance to play in the NHL recently, but some of them have earned a point or two. Nolan Foote secured his first NHL goal on April 20 against Pittsburgh with a cross-ice feed from Merkley, netting the Devils fifth goal in just the third period of that game. He also notched an assist in his first league game versus the New York Rangers on April 18. Two points in three games played is a solid start for this 20-year-old left-wing, something that he can hopefully continue if he gets more chances to play before the season ends.
Right-winger Marian Studenic has the most games played of the four with six and a goal to go along with it. His time on ice has fluctuated between eight and 14 minutes, and he scored his first NHL goal against the Rangers, a quick snap in front of Alexandar Georgiev to cut the Devils deficit to one. Twenty-three-year-old defenseman Colton White does not have any points yet but has two games played with the Devils and three shots.
Let’s not forgot another AHL defenseman who made his debut on Thursday, 20-year-old Kevin Bahl, who was a plus-1. All four of these players have been recalled from the AHL in the hopes of making a difference at the end of this season, but they are primarily looking forward to how they can contribute in the future.
The strong play of the young core group along with these standout contributors like Butcher and Merkley has kept both Devils fans and management optimistic for the future of the franchise. If it transfers into next season and beyond, they will be in good hands.
Sam is currently Managing Editor, and used to be Sports Editor, of The Montclarion, Montclair State University’s student-run multimedia newspaper. She’ll be earning her Sports Media and Journalism degree from there in Spring 2021. A hockey fan since she was a young girl, she covers the Montclair State men’s team as well as the Metropolitan Riveters and New Jersey Devils for The Hockey Writers.