Being snowbound makes for a perfect time to think about minor league forwards, right? It also feels weird doing one with Jason MacIsaac among the missing. I did one of these with the defense a few weeks back, although that's changed now with the acquisition of Stefan Stepanov. The forwards for Albany are more in flux than the defense - currently Albany has these forwards under contract:
ex: Wohlberg, K. Zajac, DeSimone, McKelvie, Parse, Berube, Carrier, Haczyk
Looking at players on AHL deals, NHL deals who are UFA, NHL deals who are RFA, then players who might be joining the team next season. The players on AHL contracts are as follows:
Looking at these collectively, I think Albany is interested in bringing back all of the players above the line, but all besides Whitney are lowest on the totem pole. The Zajac brothers may continue to get deals based on their brother's presence with the big team. McKelvie is apparently the AHL's answer to Jay Pandolfo circa 2009. Carrier and Haczyk are AHL filler.
Anderson - got a look with the big team, turns 31 next season, it's always a question how much energy you want to put into players you have no intention of calling up. I think he comes back.
Janssen - hard to say on this one - him being sent down could be him caught in a numbers game, and while Cam is 29, he's an old 29. Remember, there's limits to how many players with significant pro experience you can dress in the AHL, so it seems awfully stupid to have a guy like Cam dressing for that reason. I don't see the Devils going without a backup goon next year, so someone will be either here or in the NHL.
Sestito - I think he'll be back, even though he isn't an NHL player in any sense of the word.
Wiseman - can't stay healthy and is 32 in a month. I don't think he'll be re-signed.
Tedenby - I could see the Devils giving him one more shot, but I know he was drafted in the KHL and might have interest playing there or Sweden. He's waiver eligible next year, but I don't think he'd be claimed.
Loktionov - if he's on Albany's roster on Clear Day this year, I don't see why he would stay in North America. Either way he's not in the AHL next year.
Zalewski - he might be a group 6 free agent, which would make him unrestricted, but I don't see why he wouldn't be back. It's not like the Devils have anyone else to fill this spot, and he's from the area.
Pesonen - if he doesn't get called up to NJ at any point this season, I don't see why he'd return to North America. I'd bet against his being back.
Sislo - really disappointing year so far for him, I thought he'd make it as a Rod Pelley type, but can't seem to get anything going in the AHL. Not sure if the Devils are going to give up on him yet.
Hoeffel - Time to declare the entire 2007 draft for NJ a bust of sorts - Halischuk has a career as a 4th liner, Palmieri will probably shuttle back and forth between the AHL and NHL for a few more seasons. Hoeffel is not even good enough to do that. I could see him back on an AHL deal but hope they don't waste one of the 50 contracts on a guy with 9 goals in 90 AHL games.
Berube - if he's back, it's on an AHL deal.
Reid Boucher - not under contract yet, I imagine he will be soon, as he is New Jersey's only hope for young scoring depth in the system.
Graham Black - also not under contract, and not guaranteed to go to the AHL even if he is, but I imagine he will be both under contract and in the AHL next year.
Ben Thomson - Thomson could return to the OHL as an overage player, or could fulfill NJ's quota of having a puncher in the minor league system. I'd say he has a shot to be a not-terrible goon, but then I see Cam Janssen put up 20 or so points in his Y-19 season. Really no clue what NJ will do here.
Blake Coleman - Coleman's a 21 year old college sophomore, so he should be doing better than 11 points in 28 games. I don't think he'll leave college.
Blake Pietila - The other Blake turns 20 in 2 weeks and is putting up solid numbers at Michigan Tech - I can see NJ making overtures to sign him.
Stefan Matteau - Matteau will be eligible for the AHL next season, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him get significant time there.
So with that, the lines, I imagine to be something like this:
This looks seriously awful, so I imagine there'll be some AHL free agent types signed to bolster this miserable corps. Matteau could be the 2nd line LW if he doesn't make the Devils next year. Still, who are the callups if things go wrong? It is still quite early...