A lot has happened over the past few days! Have you caught your breath, New Jersey Devils fans?
General manager (GM) Tom Fitzgerald got his man when he announced the team traded their first-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft (conditional), defensemen Shakir Mukhamadullin and Nikita Okhotiuk, forwards Andreas Johnsson and Fabian Zetterlund, a conditional second-round selection in the 2024 NHL Draft and a seventh-round selection in 2024 to San Jose for Timo Meier, Timur Ibragimov, defensemen Scott Harrington, Santeri Hatakka, goaltender Zachary Emond and a fifth-round pick (originally Colorado’s selection) in the 2024 NHL Draft.
Not only did the team’s general manager and head coach show excitement about their newest winger, but so have the players. Specifically Jonas Siegenthaler and Nico Hischier who have previously played with Meier at the international level, and have now rejoined their fellow countryman.
Meier Joins Team in Denver
It is officially Timo Time. Meier stepped onto the ice at Ball Arena and was greeted by stick taps from his new teammates. He is still considered day-to-day and when asked by reporters if his new winger will play versus the Colorado Avalanche, head coach Lindy Ruff said “in all likelihood” he will not play.
Related: Devils Land Timo Meier: What’s Next?
Latest News & Highlights
On Feb. 28, Meier spoke to Devils’ reporter Sam Kasan and provided the following update on his recovery.
“Progressing and I’m anxious to go and play but there’s something you’ve got to fix first, get 100% ready. Listen to the body. Just working with the medical staff to get me out there in game action as soon as possible.”
Patience will be a virtue for the Devils and their fans when it comes to Meier. New Jersey has 23 games left before the postseason begins and it could take a new player anywhere from 10-20 games to adjust to his new team. There’s plenty of time to get him acclimated to Devils’ hockey before the real fun begins.
Clarke Gets the Call
Graeme Clarke was recalled from the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League on Feb. 28. The 21-year-old is having a breakout season earning 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists) in 51 games, which leads all skaters. To put things into perspective, last season he appeared in 52 games and collected 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists).
“Last year was a tough year for him but this year he’s found his game. Scored a lot of big goals down there and I’ve heard nothing but good reports. His camp was good, played a lot of pre-season games so we’ll see if he gets into the lineup,” said Ruff.
Fabian Zetterlund served as the team’s extra forward during their last game against the Philadelphia Flyers. With him in San Jose, the Devils needed some extra insurance during their three-game road trip. Kasan reported the following workflow:
Tomas Tatar – Nico Hischier – Dawson Mercer
Yegor Sharangovich – Jack Hughes – Jesper Bratt
Ondrej Palat – Erik Haula – Jesper Boqvist
Miles Wood – Michael McLeod – Nathan Bastian
Jonas Siegenthaler – Dougie Hamilton
Ryan Graves – John Marino
Kevin Bahl / Brendan Smith – Damon Severson
This would indicate Clarke will be a healthy scratch, but if there is one thing fans know, it is that Ruff likes to keep them on their toes. It would not be a surprise to see him draw into the lineup before the team returns to Newark.
Quick Hits & What You Need To Know
- Defenseman Scott Harrington never quite made it to New Jersey. On Monday afternoon, Chris Johnston reported the 29-year-old was on waivers. When asked about Harrington, Ruff simply said he would be a depth defenseman, because a team can never have too many blueliners that have NHL experience. Harrington would eventually be claimed by the Anaheim Ducks. The good news is it’s only an hour and 20-minute flight from San Jose to Anaheim.
- Mackenzie Blackwood is progressing. On Feb. 27, the club announced the netminder was placed on injured reserve (lower-body injury), retroactive to Feb. 21. For now it seems the Devils’ goaltending tandem will be Vitek Vanecek and Akira Schmid. The latter earned his first career NHL shutout on Feb. 25 versus the Flyers becoming the fifth Switzerland native (goaltender) all-time to earn an NHL shutout.
- Ben Birnell of the Daily Sentinel shared via Twitter that during an appearance on the Comets Insider radio show, general manager of the Utica Comets and assistant GM of the Devils Dan MacKinnon said Alexander Holtz “expressed a desire to come down and play games with Utica” after asking for a meeting with Fitzgerald and MacKinnon.
The trade deadline is a couple of days away and Fitzgerald could have something brewing. He has not been shy about wanting to address his team’s lack of grit, which leads some to believe he may not be done yet. Be sure to follow me on Twitter for all the latest surrounding the Devils.