It’s been quite some time since the New Jersey Devils have played hockey. And it’ll likely be another few months before that happens. But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any noteworthy news. They’re rounding out new head coach Lindy Ruff’s staff and have made some organizational changes, as well.
Let’s dive into some Devils’ news and what you may have missed over the last seven days.
ICYMI: Devils Hire Recchi, Retain Nasreddine
Earlier in the week, the Devils hired Mark Recchi to join Ruff’s staff as an assistant coach. Recchi had spent the last three years as an assistant to Mike Sullivan with the Pittsburgh Penguins. In that time, he oversaw their power play and played a role in developing the team’s forwards.
The Devils’ power play has struggled for quite some time, as it’s had some of the worst per 60 rates in the NHL over the last three seasons. But that will change under Recchi, and it should lead to a more effective man advantage.
The other bit of coaching news revolves around Alain Nasreddine. He’s been with the Devils since 2015 and served as the interim head coach after they fired John Hynes back in December. NJ Advance Media’s Randy Miller reports Nasreddine will return behind the bench under Ruff. It’s safe to assume he’ll have a similar role, which was overseeing the defense and penalty kill on Hynes’ staff.
The Devils had one of the best penalty kills in the NHL over the last three seasons. So retaining Nasreddine should help it continue its success. As for their even-strength defense, it’s a bit of wait and see. Nasreddine got a lot of flack for a poor Devils’ defense under Hynes. But Ruff will be running a different system, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Nasreddine changes things up defensively.
Devils Second in Pronman’s Organizational Rankings
After revealing his top 30 teams, the Devils came in second in Corey Pronman’s organizational rankings over at The Athletic. Though, it’s worth pointing out the New York Rangers came in first. So there could be some intense games with the Hudson River rivals over the next few seasons.
Per Pronman, the strength of the Devils’ organization lies in Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes, two former first overall picks. Pronman considers Hughes a special/elite talent, while he thinks of Hischier as an elite/high-end player (from ‘2020 NHL organizational rankings: No. 2 New Jersey Devils’, The Athletic – 9/11/2020).
But the Devils didn’t rank second just because of Hughes and Hischier. They have a deep prospect pool led by Ty Smith and Nolan Foote. They also have a solid second-tier of prospects anchored by Kevin Bahl, Tyce Thompson, and Jesper Boqvist. Couple that with former late-round picks who have NHL potential, and the future looks bright in New Jersey.
Melanson No Longer With Devils. And Maybe Orlando Too?
Some more coaching news: the Devils and goaltending coach Roland Melanson have parted ways after three seasons.
The Devils hired Melanson in 2017, which was when Cory Schneider began to go through some struggles. Though Schneider never managed to get back on track, it was no fault of Melanson’s. Overall, he did great work as the Devils’ goaltending coach and was instrumental in Mackenzie Blackwood developing into their goalie of the future.
There’s no word on who’ll replace Melanson, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Devils stayed in-house and promoted Scott Clemmensen. He worked as a goalie development coach alongside Melanson, and he seems like the right fit to fill the position.
The other piece of organizational news involves the scouting department. Though there’s been no official confirmation, Director of Amateur Scouting Gaetano (Gates) Orlando is no longer listed on the Devils’ website. He had been a scout with the team since 2004 and had been their Director of Amateur Scouting since 2017.
Related: 6 Options for Devils at 20th Overall
The NHL Draft is about a month away, but it doesn’t appear Orlando’s departure (if he’s gone) will affect their draft plans significantly. Paul Castron, who’s the Devils’ Vice President of Amateur Scouting, is still on board. He’s been with the team since 2015 and has overseen every draft since 2016. And aside from Orlando, it doesn’t appear there have been any other changes among their scouts. So they should be fine heading into a draft where they have three first-round picks.
Stay tuned for more Devils news and rumors, as it should be a busy few weeks leading up to the draft and free agency in early October.
Alex Chauvancy is a New Jersey Devils writer for The Hockey Writers who has a penchant for advanced stats, prospects, signings and trades. He previously wrote for Devils Army Blog, a New Jersey Devils fan blog, from 2015-2017