Fresh faces, outlook have Devils energized for camp
NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils began the on-ice portion of training camp at AmeriHealth Pavilion at Prudential Center on Thursday with several new faces and a fresh outlook.
"It's always great to get back it at and feel the competitive spirit again," Devils captain Bryce Salvador told NHL.com.
Goalie Martin Brodeur agreed.
"I think change can be healthy and I'm looking forward to what the new additions will bring to our team," Brodeur said. "I'm looking forward to adjustments we made with our team and the way we're going to play. Most of us know the system, but it's not rocket science. [The new players] will figure it out."
Devils coach Peter DeBoer added some intrigue to the first day of practice, which featured three sessions, when he had newcomers and fellow Newfoundland natives Michael Ryder and Ryane Clowe working together on the same line as Adam Henrique.
"I guess we'll see how it plays out, they are two great guys," Henrique told NHL.com.
DeBoer, asked if he intends to have Ryder and Clowe working together during the season, smiled.
"It's always nice to keep those Newfies together," DeBoer said.
The coach said not to look into anything put together on the opening day of training camp because the lineups will change in the coming weeks. He acknowledged that once the preseason begins, only then will he will look to create some chemistry with the lines.
In addition to free agent acquisitions Ryder and Clowe, goaltender Cory Schneider also was thrilled to be back on the ice. Schneider was acquired in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks at the NHL Draft in June.
"The Devils have a reputation around the League as an organization that does whatever it takes to win, and they focus all their energy into that and give you what you need to succeed," Schneider said. "There's not a whole lot of extra frivolous things that are unnecessary, and that's good. It's straight and to the point, and I think guys know where they stand and that's another good thing. There's a lot of clarity in knowing what your job and role is; it's a hard-working team and that's part of their identity."
Schneider, 27, has two years remaining on a contract paying an average of $4 million a season. It wouldn't be a surprise if he received approximately 45 percent of the starts, or about 36 games in 2013-14. When the 27-year-old Massachusetts native made a career-high 33 appearances with the Canucks in 2011-12, he finished with career bests in victories (20), goals-against average (1.96) and save percentage (.937).
"I really don't know what the plan is yet [with regard to playing time] with the goalies," Schneider said. "I haven't had a whole lot of interaction with [the coaches] until [Thursday]. Going forward, we'll get a better understanding what the plan will be."
Schneider established himself as an NHL starter in 2012-13, finishing 17-9-4 with a 2.11 GAA and .927 save percentage. He signed a three-year contract extension worth $12 million with the Canucks last summer. He was asked if he can provide the differences and similarities between former teammate Roberto Luongo and Brodeur.
"Marty seems very easygoing and laid back; they're both from Quebec, if that's a similarity," Schneider said. "Their styles are different and their personalities are a little different. So as I get to know Marty, I'm sure I'll pick a few things up. I just want to enjoy the experience of being around and learning from him.
"I credit a lot of the success I've had at this level to playing with a guy like Roberto. Now with Marty, I hope to learn a lot more and push my game to another level."
Another offseason acquisition, Jaromir Jagr, left his session of practice early due to general soreness. DeBoer said he and his staff will "err on the side of caution" with the 41-year-old because time is on their side at this stage of training camp. Jagr was skating on a line with Travis Zajac and Patrik Elias before leaving the ice.
Clowe is expected to fill the power-forward role David Clarkson played for the team.
"Clowe and Clarkson are real similar," DeBoer said. "In our minds, there are probably a handful of players that fit into that category; capable of scoring 20-plus goals and have that heavyweight element on the boards and with dropping the gloves if they have to. [Milan] Lucic, Clarkson and Clowe are in that category."
Clowe had 19 points in 40 games split between the San Jose Sharks and New York Rangers in 2012-13. He had three goals and five assists in 12 games after being traded to the Rangers April 2, but injuries limited him to two games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He has 46 points in 70 career playoff games.
"I didn't have the finish I wanted with [the Rangers]," Clowe said. "It was a frustrating year, but you put that behind you. I've felt good right from the start and have had no issues. I've been skating a lot as well, so I feel back to par and normal and ready to go."
Clowe said DeBoer reminds him of San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan.
"I'm familiar with a lot of the stuff," Clowe said. "I don't think it'll be that tough a transition. Pete's very similar to Todd McLellan; a very good communicator, lot of structure, pretty easy for the guys. I get the same type of vibe from Pete as I did Todd. It was good to be out there in a Devils jersey, wearing the black and red."
Ryder had 35 points over 46 games combined between the Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens in 2012-13. He won the Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011, and has 213 goals and 431 points in 677 games.
"I know it's a team game here and we play as a team," Ryder said. "It's all about everybody. If you don't score, there are other things you can do to help the team win. What I got for the first little while in training camp is that this team focuses on defense in order to limit the other team's chances. That gives you a better chance of winning. Hopefully, me, Ryan and Jags can help out the offense a little bit. But even if we're not scoring, there are other things you can do to help the team win."
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Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer