It’s been four years and two months since Lou Lamoriello left the New Jersey Devils to accept the General Manager position with the Toronto Maple Leafs (July 2015). His successor, Ray Shero, wasn’t exactly left with a stockpile of talent but now with the 2019-20 NHL season on the horizon, there are only 13 players left within the entire organization that have ties to the Lamoriello Era.
Of those remaining thirteen players only one of them was acquired via trade, one was signed as a free agent, and the other eleven were selected in the NHL Draft. *Five of those drafted players came during the 2015 NHL Draft where Shero was the GM (named on May 4, 2015), but Lamoriello’s head scout David Conte had already done almost a full year’s worth of scouting and Shero offered little input.
Andy Greene has been the Devils’ captain since the start of the 2015-16 season, but it was way back in 2006 when Lamoriello signed the defenseman as an undrafted college free agent once his collegiate career ended at Miami University. Greene, who turns 37 the day before Halloween, split his first pro season between New Jersey and the AHL Lowell Devils but has been in the NHL ever since. He is in the final year of a five-year contract and enters this season with a total of 870 regular-season games played and 50 playoff games.
At the 2013 NHL Draft, which New Jersey hosted, Lamoriello made a splash when he traded the Devils first-round pick (ninth overall) to the Vancouver Canucks for goaltender Cory Schneider – with both current goalies (Martin Brodeur, Johan Hedberg) in the building that night. It was a bold move, but Lamoriello was trying to be proactive as far as finding the legendary Brodeur’s successor before it was too late.
After a 16-15-5 season where he split starts with Brodeur, Lamoriello then signed Schneider to a seven-year extension ($42 million) to stay in New Jersey in July of 2014. With two years left on his contract at the start of this season, the netminder has yet to surpass 30 wins in an NHL season and appeared in only four playoff games.
Five of the eleven players drafted during the Lamoriello Era have played at least one full NHL season, and ten of the eleven have played in at least one NHL game.
Travis Zajac was drafted in 2004 (round 1/20th overall) and has played in 922 games for the franchise. If he plays in all 82 games this season, he will reach 1,000 games played (all with New Jersey obviously) in the 78th game. He’s also played in 57 playoff games and been a durable two-way center for the Devils throughout his career.
In 2011 Lamoriello drafted forward Blake Coleman (3rd round/75th overall), in 2012 he drafted defenseman Damon Severson (2nd round/60th overall), and in 2013 he nabbed forward Miles Wood (4th round/100th overall). Severson made his debut first of the three and has been a regular on the Devils’ blue line, playing in 361 NHL games since the 2014-15 season.
Coleman played four years of college while Wood only played one but each has accrued just about the same amount of games at the NHL level. The 27-year-old Coleman has seen action in 180 games thus far in New Jersey and has become a valuable asset on the penalty kill and as a two-way player under head coach John Hynes. Wood will turn 24-years-old on Sept. 13 and has played in 200 games as a Devil after one season at Boston College. His speed will always be his biggest asset and he is still learning when and when not to turn on the afterburners.
Pavel Zacha was selected sixth overall at the 2015 NHL Draft and in three full seasons/201 games he has put up 76 points (29g-27a). As of press time the Czech-born center is an unsigned restricted free agent. Two other players from that draft class saw significant time in New Jersey for the first time this past season — forward Brett Seney (6th round/157th overall) played in 51 games as a rookie (5g-8a) and goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood (2nd round/42nd overall) played in 23 games (10-10-0, 2 shutouts).
Seney is expected to start the season with New Jersey’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton, but could be one of the first recalls if someone is traded, injured, or underperforming. The Devils are hoping the 22-year-old Blackwood is the heir apparent to Schneider and is expected to split the starts with the veteran puck stopper this season.
Colton White (4th round/97th overall) and Blake Speers (3rd round/67th overall) were also taken in the 2015 NHL Draft. They are both 22-years-old and the two former teammates for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL have played in the AHL the last two seasons and have appeared in three NHL games apiece.
Josh Jacobs was drafted in the 2nd round (41st overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft and played his lone game for New Jersey this past season. Brandon Baddock was also selected in that same draft (6th round/161st overall) and played in 120 games for the Binghamton Devils over the past two seasons; he has yet to make his NHL debut.
A New Tomorrow
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.