Devils News & Rumors: Senyshyn, Hickey & More

With NHL training camp approaching, the news cycle is beginning to crank up with the offseason now in the past. Over the last couple of days, the New Jersey Devils announced PTOs for defenseman Thomas Hickey and forward Zach Senyshyn, who will join the team on Sept. 21 when training camp begins. The Devils also released their roster for rookie camp and the Prospects Challenge, which will take place this weekend in Buffalo, New York, with some surprises for the tournament roster. Let’s catch up on all of the latest news

Senyshyn & Hickey Join Devils’ Camp Competition

PTOs are standard practice for almost every NHL team ahead of training camp. Last year, the Devils signed Jimmy Vesey to a PTO, and he’d make the roster after a solid training camp and preseason. Senyshyn and Hickey are probably long shots to make the Devils’ NHL roster, but they still could land depth roles with the team’s AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets.

Related: 4 Fun Facts About Devils’ Miles Wood

Hickey had been with the New York Islanders since the 2012-13 campaign, though most of that had come in the AHL with the Bridgeport Islanders over the last few years. In 2021-22, he played 29 games for Bridgeport, totaling four goals and 12 points. There isn’t much in the way of advanced stats for the AHL, but the numbers available show Hickey was solid for Bridgeport a season ago. They had a goal differential of 31-18 with him on the ice at five-on-five, a goals for percentage (GF%) of 63.3 percent. 

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After the Islanders loaned him to the Ontario Reign — the Los Angeles Kings’ AHL affiliate — in March, Hickey posted six points in 15 games. His GF% dipped to 41.2 with the Reign, but 15 games isn’t a significant sample size to make much out of it. If the Devils decide to carry eight defensemen to start the season, perhaps he makes the roster. But the more likely scenario, if he has a good preseason, is he signs and plays a veteran role for the Comets while serving as a potential call-up.

Thomas Hickey Islanders
The Devils signed Thomas Hickey to a PTO ahead of training camp (Photo by Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As for Senyshyn, it’ll be tough for him to make the Devils’ NHL roster. They already have a crowded group up front and will have more than a few of their top 10 prospects competing for gigs. Maybe he lands as the 13th forward, but there’s a better chance he also signs and plays for the Comets.  

Let’s say one or both of Alexander Holtz and Fabian Zetterlund make the Devils’ roster, the Comets will need some scorers in their lineup. Before getting traded to the Ottawa Senators and playing with their AHL affiliate, Senyshyn had 19 goals in 51 AHL games — nearly a 27-goal pace over a 72-game AHL schedule — with the Providence Bruins last season. He’s a solid AHL middle-six winger, and if injuries strike in the NHL, he could serve as a call-up. But a regular role with the Devils, given their makeup at forward, seems unlikely. 

Devils Release Rookie Camp Roster

Yesterday afternoon, the Devils released their roster for rookie camp ahead of the Prospects Challenge that begins tomorrow night with a tilt against the Montreal Canadiens and their prospects. Among the notable names were Holtz, Šimon Nemec, and Chase Stillman — all former first-round picks. 

Still, there were a couple of notable omissions, namely Zetterlund and Tyce Thompson. Zetterlund was not on the Devils’ development camp roster back in July, so maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise he’s not heading to Buffalo. His play in the AHL and with the Devils a season ago suggests he’s probably close to NHL-ready too. 

However, Thompson was at development camp, so it is notable he won’t be in Buffalo this weekend. That’s especially true since he only played in 18 combined games between the AHL and NHL a season ago after having shoulder surgery. Maybe the Devils think he’s close to NHL-ready also, but it is a bit surprising he won’t be an attendee since he had limited playing time in 2021-22.

Even though Thompson and Zetterlund won’t be in attendance, there’ll still be plenty to watch in Buffalo. I already wrote about the top prospects (Holtz, Nemec, Reilly Walsh, etc.) and other notable names the Devils will have in attendance for this weekend. But now that they’ve released the official roster, let’s touch on a few other players.

Tyce Thompson New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils prospect Tyce Thompson (Photo by Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Jesper Bratt’s younger brother, Filip Bratt, will be among the attendees. He spent last season with AIK in the HockeyAllsvenskan — Sweden’s equivalent of the AHL — and had two points in 35 games. The 20-year-old, 5-foot-10, 179-pound defenseman signed an AHL contract and will play for the Comets this coming season. 

Another player on an AHL contract is Xavier Parent, who impressed at development camp in July. The diminutive 5-foot-8, 170-pound forward put up 51 goals and 106 points in 65 games for the Sherbrooke Phoenix in the QMJHL a season ago as an overager. With Thompson not in attendance, I’d expect Parent to center some of the Devils’ scoring lines at the Prospects Challenge. Based on his QMJHL career (not just 2021-22), he seems to have some intriguing offensive upside.

Related: Devils to Watch at 2022 Prospects Challenge

Other players to watch include winger Josh Filmon (2022 sixth-round pick), Graeme Clarke (2019 third-round pick) and Stillman. The 2022-23 season will be an important one for Stillman, as he had an underwhelming D+1 season between the Sudbury Wolves and Peterborough Petes a season ago, producing below a point per game. 

Entering his D+2 season, it’s time for Stillman to break out and show some scoring upside. That doesn’t mean he needs to put up 1.5 points per game, but his production does need to top over a point per game. If he lights the lamp at the Prospects Challenge, perhaps that could be a sign of things to come. But regardless, there should be plenty of storylines to come out of the weekend before the start of training camp next week. 

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Advanced stats from AHL Tracker