The 2019-20 New Jersey Devils enter the final week of training camp before the regular season starts. After Wednesday night’s game against the Boston Bruins, the New Jersey Devils have one preseason game left to sort out their roster. The Devils have 26 players remaining in camp. They need to trim that number to 23 before the start of the season. Let’s take a look at the players who can make the team and where they stand.
Bubble Players on the 2019-20 New Jersey Devils
Out of the forwards remaining fighting for a roster spot, it has been Jesper Boqvist making the strongest case to make the 2019-20 New Jersey Devils roster. He consistently brings a high level to games and practices and has shown his ability to play in the NHL. His hard work paid off with a two-goal performance in a preseason win over the New York Islanders. If he continues to bring that level night-in and night-out, he will find himself on this roster rather than being sent back to Sweden for another season of development in the SHL.
Michael McLeod is entering his fourth training camp with the Devils. By far this has been his best preseason. Along with his ability to find the scoresheet in two of his four preseason games, he has more consistency in his game. McLeod is known for his speed, but now he is using his size to his advantage. He has been able to take what he has learned in the film room and translate it to the ice. The problem facing McLeod is depth down the middle. While he could be a victim of the numbers game, he might have played himself into one of the first call-ups of the season if there is any injury worry. Of course, the Devils might have other plans for McLeod
Like McLeod, Nathan Bastian is in a similar situation with the numbers game. With the Devils bottom-six being fairly full, Bastian could end up as the odd-man-out, despite a solid training camp. He has brought a net-front presence and a physicality which the Devils have lacked in the past. And like McLeod, he has also put himself in a position to be called up if there is an injury.
Last season, Kevin Rooney carved out a nice role with the Devils. He showed his ability to be a fourth-line center and replaced Brian Gibbons on the penalty kill. This penalty killing is what’s kept him around the team for so long. Things get tricky here with Rooney, if the Devils do decide to send him down he will need waivers to clear. The fear might be another team will pick him up.
The Devils liked something in John Hayden, acquiring him from Chicago during the off-season. He has established himself as a solid fourth-line player and has meshed nicely with Blake Coleman. It will be hard for the team to send him down to the Binghamton Devils, in the AHL. Just like Rooney, Hayden would need to clear waivers, thus the Devils could lose him for nothing. This could be the thing that keeps Hayden on the 2019-20 New Jersey Devils roster.
Entering his second season after signing his new contract with the New Jersey Devils, there has not been much improvement in Miles Wood‘s game. There is a likely possibility that Wood does not make the team. He has always been a streaky player and has a bad habit of taking bad penalties. The way the Devils are constructed, his days are numbered with the team. There was hope he could be a top-six forward, however, Wood is more suited to a bottom-six role. And with the battle going for the fourth line, Wood could be one of the odd men out.
After a stellar training camp last season, this year has been an up and down year for Smith. The Devils have given him every opportunity to show he is ready to stick in the NHL full time. However, the coaching staff would like to see more from him. His best game came in the Wednesday night loss to the Boston Bruins. He will get another chance in the final preseason game. And if the Devils want to see more they always have a nine-game window at the start of the regular season, before they’re faced with deciding whether they want to return him to the WHL. This nine-game trial period could be a definite possibility for Smith, allowing the team to test his NHL-readiness during regular season play.
Throughout his career, Matt Tennyson has been primarily an AHL player. While he has played in at least four NHL games in every season since 2012-13, he has not found his way permanently on a roster. He has impressed the coaching staff enough to survive the first round of cuts. He has been a steady defenseman back there for the Devils. While it is unclear whether or not he can stick with the team or not, he has left his mark. He could be an early call up if there is an injury.