Month: January 2018

Devils Should Bring Gionta Back to the Beginning.

Devils Should Bring Gionta Back to the Beginning.

Do you know who the Franchise record holder for goals in a single season is for the New Jersey Devils?  It’s Brian Gionta with 48 back in 2005-2006.  Brian Gionta’s tenure with the New Jersey Devils is a fond memory for some fans.  In 7 seasons in a Devils uniform, Gionta tallied 312 points in 473 games while truly embodying the blue-collar, hard-working style that was synonymous with the Devils.

Those days are long behind him now.  Since he last suited up for the Devils in 2009, Brian Gionta has gone on to Captain two franchises (Montreal and Buffalo) and compete in a total of 1006 NHL regular season contests.  Since leaving the Devils, with the exception of an injury shortened 2012 campaign, and the lockout shortened 2013 season, Gionta has NEVER produced less than 33 points in season.  He also has brought much-needed leadership, work ethic and depth to the franchises he’s been a part of.


He didn’t get a contract this summer.  With rumors swirling about the NHL not participating in the Olympics, Gionta was contacted and asked to stay in shape.  At the Winter Classic, Gionta was named as the captain of the United States 2018 Olympic Team.  While not only a great honor for Gionta, it’s a chance to show that at 39 years old he still has some gas in the tank.  He might even have gas in the tank for 1 more playoff push after the Olympics.  This is where the Devils come into the picture.


Devils fans can be an interesting bunch.  One peculiarity that I can speak to from personal experience though, is that they love their links to the glory of days gone by.  Devils Alumni from the 1995, 2000 and 2003 cup teams are revered by the fan base, and are always favorite guests at events.  Martin Brodeur and Patrik Elias are practically team royalty, capable of doing no wrong in the eyes of fans who will forever remember them as cup hoisting heroes.  At 39 years of age, Brian Gionta is the last member of the 2003 Devils squad that is still an active hockey player.

The 2018 Devils are a young team.  The only players over the age of 30 on the active roster are: Brian Boyle, Andy Greene, Ben Lovejoy, Drew Stafford, Travis Zajac, and Cory Schneider.  There’s not a tremendous amount of playoff experience on this roster outside of Lovejoy and Boyle.  The Devils find themselves right in the mix for the 2018 playoffs as the new year dawns.  Brian Gionta brings a veteran presence and a hard work ethic that fits in with what the Devils have been doing all season.  It’s also worth noting that Gionta is a right-handed shooter.  The only right-handed forwards on the Devils’ roster currently are:  Kyle Palmieri, Stefan Noesen, Jimmy Hayes, Travis Zajac and Drew Stafford.  Stafford and Hayes have fallen out of favor as the season has gone on and found themselves as healthy scratches often.  This means, with regularity, the Devils are only dressing three right handed shooting forwards per night.  While Hayes and Stafford do add some wing depth, it seems likely that the Devils GM might look to move one or both of them at the trade deadline.  Brian Gionta is solid, capable, right-handed wing depth that can be added without having to part with any assets to obtain him.

IF Gionta has a strong showing at the Olympics, Devils General Manager, Ray Shero, should bring Gionta back to where it all began.  Brian Gionta should suit up in the red and black one final time, for one last improbable run at hoisting Lord Stanley’s cup.

Nice of You All to Join Me (Evan Bouchard edition)

In a followup to my article about Bouchard from October.

I’m seeing Bouchard in the top 15 in projections where he always belonged.  Nice of you all to join me on this one.

As the Knights have gotten SOME players back from the NHL, Bouchard has kept up his stellar play and with a supporting cast in front of him, his point total has ballooned to 46 points over 37 games.  He averages 0.89 assists per game and is the de facto leader for the Knights as they have clawed their way back into the 4th spot in the western conference after a DISMAL 1-6 start.

Bouchard’s leadership and talent are going to make him a future stud defenseman in the NHL, there’s no doubt in my mind.  Why it took until December/January for people to get on this wagon is beyond me.

Kingston is All-In

Kingston is All-In

The Kingston Frontenacs have made it clear to EVERYONE that they’re going for it this year.  On January 1st they announced the acquisition of Sean Day and Gabe Vilardi from Windsor in exchange for young forward, Cody Morgan and a small pile of OHL draft selections (2nd, 3rd in 2020, 2nd in 2024, 2nd in 2025, conditional selections in 2023) 

gabe vilardi

If you follow hockey prospects and the draft at all, you’ve heard of Vilardi.  He’s the massive 2-way center that was considered the best OHL Player available for the 2017 entry draft.  He was projected top 5, but somehow slipped to the Kings at #11.  The 6’3, 200 pound, right-handed center had a big 61 point in 49 game campaign in his draft year.  Gabe also displayed excellent 2-way play and defensive awareness to go with his scoring.  He’s a team leader and is almost always the best player on the ice in every game he plays.  There’s just 1 problem.  He hasn’t played a game yet this season.  A back injury suffered during the memorial cup has had him sidelined since May.  Put that in perspective for a second here.  It is January, and he’s been sidelined since May.  He has not played a relevant game of hockey in over 7 months.  There’s no telling if he is capable of being the same player that he was last season.  If he’s back and he’s ready to roll, and he doesn’t skip a beat, then Kingston is on its way to a deep playoff run.  If he isn’t, well, then at least they also got Day in this deal.


Sean Day is a guy who has bounced around a bit.  He has everything that NHL teams look for in a defenseman.  He’s a big boy, checking in at 6’3, 230 pounds.  Day is known for his mobility, and puck movement.  His 0.49 points per game is a good total for an OHL defenseman and shows him as an offensive contributor.  These are the things the New York Rangers looked at when they selected Day with their 3rd round, 81st overall pick of the 2016 entry draft.  Kingston obviously hopes that by adding another strong point generator on defense, they’ll be able to compliment Eemeli Rasanen(#59 Overall 2017).


Kingston has been having themselves an excellent season.  They currently sit 2nd in the East Division with 42 points.  That’s good enough for 4th overall in the Eastern Conference right now.  They’ve been getting truly dynamic play from their 3 top scoring forwards: Nathan Dunkley (2018 eligible), Linus Nyman (2018 eligible) and Jason Robertson (#39 overall 2017).  The addition of Day and Vilardi into this mix, assuming Vilardi can return to form could be the type of gamble that brings Kingston an OHL title.  For the Kingston native, Vilardi, it could be the perfect end to the OHL chapter of his hockey career.