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The New Jersey Devils made their first meaningful cuts on Tuesday.
They waived Nick Lappin and assigned prospects Joey Anderson, Michael McLeod, and Marian Studenic to Binghamton of the AHL.
I have some thoughts on the moves and what they could mean for others:
I was not surprised to see the Devils cut the cord with Lappin. He was never going to be featured on the power play or penalty kill so he needed to play well at full-strength to earn a spot. He certainly didn't do that. The Devils were out-chanced 15-7 and lost the high-danger battle 11-1(!) with Lappin on the ice at 5v5. Though he scored two goals in two games, those goals came on two shots. It's not like he was generating opportunities with any consistency.
Some are up and arms about potentially losing him on waivers but he turns 26 in just over a month and has eight points in 49 career NHL games. Let's not pretend his ceiling is anything more than a rotational forward.
Anderson entered camp with a good opportunity to make the team and he simply didn't take advantage of it. I don't think he was overly good in the Prospects Challenge. He didn't make much of an impact in his two preseason games either. I think he still has a lot of growing to do and a steady dose of minutes in Binghamton will be beneficial to him.
There is reason to be concerned about McLeod's development. His 19-year-old season in the OHL was not close to what you'd expect from a player chosen high in the 1st round. Quite honestly, there were late round picks and undrafted players in his age group who performed at a higher level.
McLeod followed up his disappointing 2017-18 campaign with an awful start to 2018-19.
The Devils gave him three preseason games to showcase himself and he didn't do a very good job. He posted a -16 on-ice chance differential at 5v5 and registered just two scoring chances in more than 46 minutes of playing time.
Beyond drawing a couple penalties, he really didn't do much to help the team. He has a long way to go.
Studenic ranked last in Corsi For% among 19 Devils forwards to log at least 15 minutes of 5v5 ice. I like his work ethic, and he has a decent shot, but there's a *lot* of work to be done before he can seriously contend for an NHL job.
These cuts are good news for John Quenneville, who has quietly had a pretty decent camp. He is one of the team's leaders in Corsi For% and has recorded more shots and shot attempts than anyone on the roster. He also showed he was willing to stand up for his teammates, which surely pleased John Hynes and the coaching staff. I haven't been blown away but he looks ready to be a serviceable role player.
Don't be shocked if Drew Stafford or Kevin Rooney end up making the opening night roster. Most of the kids simply weren't ready and I'm not sure the Devils will want to keep 22-year-old Brett Seney around as a rotational forward when they could give him tons of opportunity at the AHL-level. His development would be stunted by sitting on the sidelines most nights; that wouldn't be the case with the other two.
Note: numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com.
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