As we get ready for the the 2014-15 season, it may be time to get yourself reacquainted with your team’s minor league affiliates and what could be in store for your team should they need a call-up or two. I’ll go through them team by team in hopes that this enlightens some people to their affiliate teams. Today, we only make one stop thanks to the New Jersey Devils, and that’s in Albany, New York.
Affiliate Since: 2006-07 (As Lowell Devils)
Distance From Parent Club (Arena to Arena): 147 miles
Last Season: 40-23-5-8, 2nd in Northeast Division, 5th in Eastern Conference
For the first time since they moved to Albany, the Devils reached the post-season; though it was a short entry leading to a first round exit. With a balanced attack and mix of rookies and veterans, the Devils were able to find their footing and hit the 40 win plateau for the first time in four seasons. Moreover, this Devils team was the first in four season to be over the .500 mark since they moved from Lowell.
A big point of success was the play in net, as Keith Kinkaid and Scott Wedgewood played a solid 1-a/b combination for the team, with both goalies placing in the top-11 in GAA and shutouts, with Kinkaid in the top-10 in wins for the league. Their save percentages aside, the pipeline for Albany actually has some talent on the roster, unlike the teams from the past.
While New Jersey is usually defensive oriented, which is what Albany stood by a bit– the Albany side added three 20-goal scorers in Joe Whitney, Mike Sislo, and rookie Reid Boucher. Another rookie, Kelly Zajac, was second on the team in points; with the most notable rookie on the Albany roster in Stefan Matteau, posting 26 points in 67 games.
The power play was very strong from the blueline, with Raman Hrabarenka and Reece Scarlett putting up five and six power play goals respectively. Dan Kelly was able to bring about a stay-at-home style the Devils are accustom to, with Adam Larsson putting up 19 points in 33 points after he was sent down half-way through the season.
Leading Scorers: Joe Whitney (22g, 31a), Kelly Zajac (12g, 32a), Mike Sislo (23g, 18a)
Possible Frequent Flyers: Either Scarlett or Hrabarenka could be call-ups if Larsson has another blip on his career with a downturn in the first part of the season. The battle for back-up goalie for New Jersey could see a shuttle of Wedgewood, Kinkaid, or newcomer Scott Clemmensen throughout the season. Turmoil could keep Matteau down in Albany for a majority of the year in favor of Reid Boucher, but captains Rod Pelley and Tom Sestito could be called-up to provide some veteran appeal in New Jersey late in the season.
Outlook: If they can keep some assemblance of the core together, Albany should be able to keep up their momentum, especially with a lot of these guys going into their second year of professional play, like Boucher and Matteau. Wedgewood’s development will be interesting to see, because he didn’t have the best year record wise, but was able to show he could give Albany a chance to win. If they can keep their defensive mindset to the forefront while adapting the goal-scoring into their game plan, Albany should be able to get another 40-win season for 2014-15.