0616conte

DRAFT Q&A WITH DAVID CONTE

by Eric Marin (NJD) // 06.21.2011 // Feature

For years, the Devils have built their foundation through the draft. For close to two decades, the top dog of Devils’ scouting has been David Conte.

Conte, the Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations/Director of Scouting, is entering his 28th season with the club, 19th as director.

With the Devils set to pick fourth overall at the NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn., on Friday, June 24, Conte took the time to describe preparations for the team’s highest selection since Scott Niedermayer (third overall) in 1991.

How has this process been different from past years when the Devils have typically picked lower in the first round?
Well, clearly we’ve spent time on the higher-end pool of players. It’s not terribly different. It’s still a seven-round draft and you have to make every round count. But clearly we have to focus on a certain pool. I would say 1 to 10. So it does allow you a little more comprehensive investigation, whereas before if you were picking 25, you’re in a pool maybe of 40 in the terms of the first pick, which is obviously what everybody’s attention goes to. But as a staff our attention goes pretty well-dispersed to 1 to 7.

Do you look to fill a specific team need or do you look for the best available player?
It is always the best available player. The team needs, or certain things, they can come into play, I think, if it’s a tie, but there really are no ties. Obviously, the higher you are in the draft, the more you give things like that a little more weight, but really not. It’s an interesting dynamic that at one time we had a plethora of goalies. We had Sean Burke, Kirk McLean and Chris Terreri and Craig Billington, and in the draft that year we took Martin Brodeur, Mike Dunham and Corey Schwab. So it’s really about the quality of the player. Even with Martin Brodeur, it’s not that we needed a goalie, it was that Martin Brodeur was the best player. That’s an axiom for you, the best way I can explain it.

Did you learn anything at this year’s NHL Combine?
You always learn things. I also always defer to our physiologist, Garret Caffrey, because I’m not sure that any of us have the expertise to interpret what that data and those tests actually mean. I defer to him and yes I always learn things from him that over the course of time have proven very helpful.

What’s your take on this year’s draft field as a whole, even into the deeper rounds? Is this a strong draft class?
It’s pretty representative, I would say. The draft isn’t as defined with a couple of high-end priority guys as much as the past. You may be looking at it a little deeper. Generally speaking, I prefer not to compare drafts or strengths of drafts and I’d rather focus on dealing just with what we have at hand. We can’t change the player pool. It’d be nice if we were looking at Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin and all these guys in one draft, but we’re not. So we’re looking at also very good players that are going to have major impact in the NHL for a long time coming. We just want to be sure to get the best one available to us. Whether it’s strong or it’s weak really doesn’t matter. The only thing I want to concern myself with is getting the best one that we can.

Is the feeling that with the fourth overall pick, you’re going to get a kid who can be an impact player for years to come?
That’s the plan, and even for other stages in the draft. It certainly gets more speculative as you get into later rounds, but even through a good part of the first round, there’s still going to be players that can have considerable impact. We don’t have to look any farther on our roster than Martin Brodeur at 20 [overall], Patrik Elias at 51, Zach Parise at 17, Travis Zajac at 20 – there are always players that can have considerable impact at any point in the draft. Clearly, when you’re four, you have the choice of those players that you think have impact. With that, it has more meaning and your odds of finding that player should be enhanced because you’re getting the first pick at it. Having said that, it’s still a developmental process of integrating the player into the team and him developing and he’s still 18 years old. The work’s not done by just drafting the player that might be applauded by The Hockey News.

When fans look at who they expect their team to take, they see stats or size. Besides the obvious criteria, the talent and the numbers, what other things do you evaluate in a draft prospect?
We have always, with the Devils, put a premium on character. That character comes in a lot of different forms. There’s competitive on-ice character, there’s off-ice responsibility, there’s leadership. There’s a lot of factors. We have not had problems of significance with behavioral things or selfishness with most of the players we’ve had over the years. I think, largely, that mandate comes from Lou [President/CEO/GM Lamoriello] and I think, largely, it is a foundation for the long term of success that we’ve had in the past. You only have to look at the players we’ve had that have come and gone and the quality of the people that they are: Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, Brendan Shanahan. It goes way back, and we’ve always emphasized that, not that other teams don’t. Often when you’re talking about players of that Hall-of-Fame stature, they have to have that character to be of that stature. There’s a skill set, there’s a character and there’s a productivity and you weigh all of those things. There is no magic formula. Every year, it’s different. Every player is different. There will never be another Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux, but there’ll be another somebody else.

Is the interview process vital in determining character?
The Combine interview process is very difficult for both the player and the teams because it’s a machine-gun process and there’s maybe 20 in a day for both the player and the team. It’s not the most comfortable or productive 20 minutes. Other contact we will organize with a number of players that are of serious consideration, and that is more valuable. We’d be presumptuous to say we really know someone on those kinds of meetings. What does reflect on their character is the body of work. Over the course of years, any character flaws are more reflected in games than they are in interviews. How they react to their teammates – those things are far more reflective than an adult talking to an 18-year-old prospective hockey player about his future. It’s more important sometimes how the player feels about his teammates and how his teammates feel about the player. It’s not always easy to get answers to those kind of questions, but that is probably a more valid assessment of someone’s character.

You mentioned Scott Niedermayer, and the last time the team picked this high it was to take him third overall in 1991. What do you remember about that day?
I remember it was a good day. That was a fairly easy selection, but you also have to remember the players that were around him in that selection didn’t necessarily have the same types of careers that he had. Nobody did, including Eric Lindros. [Niedermayer] was a very special pick. Could we have predicted that? Or did we at the time think that the players that went second (Pat Falloon, San Jose), fourth (Scott Lachance, NY Islanders), and fifth (Aaron Ward, Winnipeg) were terribly different than him? Not to the degree that it manifested itself. One has a Hall-of-Fame career. The others had very good careers, but that’s a Hall-of-Fame career. Unfortunately, that was a nice thing to do because it wasn’t even our pick (acquired in 1989 from Toronto for Tom Kurvers).

Are you excited for this pick?
Absolutely. It’s been a long time. You could play nine holes of golf before we get to pick most years.

leblond

LIVING SOCIAL: LEBLOND ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS

By Albany Devils // 06.17.2011 // Feature

Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond answered your questions as part of thealbanydevils.com weekly segment that focuses on user submitted questions. Each Monday, thealbanydevils.com will announce which player will be showcased that week. Fans can submit their questions via Facebook or Twitter and the answers will appear Thursday.

Leblond, who began the season with the New Jersey Devils, played 64 games for Albany in 2010-11 and netted a career-high eight goals. He also added five assists for 13 points and accumulated 334 penalty minutes. Leblond just finished his fifth season as a professional.

Kelly Esarey Goergen
How do you like the Albany area?
Leblond: I love it. I had a great time there and my girlfriend is from Albany. It’s always fun to come back; if it’s not for her than it’s for hockey — two important things in my life at the moment.
Martin Pavlik
Who is your favorite fighter in the NHL and AHL?
Leblond: I’m going to have to say Shawn Thornton. I like his style and I think he is pretty tough.
Mike Snyder
Who was your favorite hockey player and team growing up?
Leblond: My favorite team was the Quebec Nordiques. Being from Quebec, it was the biggest thing. My favorite player? I had a few, but I’m going to have to say Joe Sakic.
Danielle Newell
Where is the best place you have ever visited?
Leblond: That’s tough. I’ve been to some great places. I’ll tell you, anytime I can be on a lake — wake up, jog and swim — those are the places I enjoy the most. I like the beach and I like to travel to old cities, but whenever I’m on a lake it’s the perfect time for me.
Timothy Ritz
Who would you say is your best friend in the league?
Leblond: Pierre-Cedric Labrie, who plays in Norfolk. He’s a good friend of mine and we spend the summers together. He’s a really good guy.
Chris Hunt
After scoring 8 goals this season — the most you have in a single season in your career — are u spending more of your off season on goal scoring and puck handleing?
Leblond: Not at all (laughing). It was a lucky season for me. All my goals were easy tap-ins and I didn’t have to work much to get them. I’m going to keep working at what got me to the level I’m at: my skating and my toughness. If goals come it’s a bonus and it’s always fun – especially when you score a game winner or a power play goal, which I did for the first time this year.  It’s fun, but I’m not expecting to do it again this year. If I do, great. If not, I’ll be happy just doing my job.
John Da Silva
That fight you had with Cam Janssen back in March 2010 was one of the best I’ve ever seen….was that the longest fight of your career? How tired were you!? At one point in the fight, you guys are seen talking to eachother, can you share what we being said? ?
Leblond: Yes it was. It always takes a couple of days to recover from a long fight. This one was special because I think it lasted 2:45 and you don’t train for that and you can’t be ready for a fight like that. When it happens it’s really exhausting. I was happy we had the next day off. It was really the most tiring fight I’ve been in and I do remember what was said, but I’m going to keep that between us.
Jim Cebula
What do you do for conditioning during the OFF season?
Leblond: We have about 10 workouts a week on and off the ice. We are in the gym six days a week running, lifting weights or riding the bike. Then we are on the ice two to four times. It’s about 10 workouts a week. The off season is really tough physically, but it’s good in the long run because it prevents injuries and prepares you for training camp and the start of the season.

@DevilsRedSox
Pierre-Luc, what does it feel like to have the greatest name in hockey history? (Lol) What do you think of the nickname PL3?
Leblond: I love that nickname. I kind of hope that my parents would have gave me that [nickname] because it’s easy to write and remember. Having a long name was tough when I was a kid and it’s still tough when I’m in the states because when I introduce myself they all ask “what?” It’s good, people remember that name and PL3 – I’ve had for five or six years now. You feel appreciated when people give you a nickname in a good way. It was given when I was in Jersey and some fans are still following me so I appreciate it; it’s nice.
0616noreau

DEVILS ACQUIRE DEFENSEMAN MAXIM NOREAU

by New Jersey Devils // 06.16.2011 // News

Newark, NJ – The New Jersey Devils today completed an American Hockey League trade with the Minnesota Wild, acquiring defenseman Maxim Noreau in exchange for forward David McIntyre. The announcement was made by Devils’ President/CEO/ General Manager Lou Lamoriello.

Noreau, 24, will enter his fifth professional season in 2011-12. He split each of the past two seasons between Minnesota and Houston (AHL), finishing first among Aeros’ defensemen with 54 points in 2010 11 and 52 in 2009-10. Among AHL defensemen, he finished tied for third in points, and first with 33 power play points and 216 shots last season.

The 6-0, 195-lb., right-shooting rearguard played in the 2010 and 2011 AHL All-Star Games, was named to the league’s First All-Star Team in 2011, and Second Team in 2010. Noreau also added two goals and ten assists for 12 points in helping Houston reach the 2011 Calder Cup Finals. He also saw action in five games with Minnesota this past season and made his NHL debut on April 8, 2010 at Calgary. Undrafted, he signed with the Wild organization as a free agent on May 22, 2008 and spent the entire 2008-09 season with the Aeros.

Born May 24, 1987 in Montreal, Que., he spent his first pro season in 2007-08 with both Houston and Texas (ECHL). He played three seasons of junior hockey with Victoriaville (QMJHL) from 2004-2007.

McIntyre had joined the Devils’ organization on February 3, 2009, after his rights were acquired from Anaheim.

Leblond_Play

IN-DEPTH: PIERRE-LUC LETOURNEAU-LEBLOND

by Albany Devils // 06.14.11 // Feature

Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond

Number: 34
Pos.: Left Wing
Shoots: Left
Height: 6-2
Weight: 215
Birthdate: June 4, 1985
Birthplace: Levis, Quebec

2010-11 Statistics

Player GP G A PTS +/- PIM PP SHG SOG SH%
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond 64 8 5 13 -14 334 1 0 41 19.5

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DLwhxhStZk

Game-By-Game Breakdown

Date Game G A Pts +/- S PIM PP SH FG GW
2010-10-16 ALB @ ADK 3 2
2010-10-20 CHA @ ALB -1 5
2010-10-23 NOR @ ALB 2
2010-10-29 ALB @ PRO 1 1 1
2010-10-30 ALB @ SYR 15
2010-11-05 ALB @ WOR 1
2010-11-06 RCH @ ALB -1 2 5
2010-11-07 PRO @ ALB 2 2 2
2010-11-10 NOR @ ALB 2
2010-11-12 SYR @ ALB -1
2010-11-13 ALB @ POR 5
2010-11-16 WBS @ ALB 5
2010-11-19 ALB @ SYR 9
2010-11-20 ALB @ RCH 3 10
2010-11-24 ALB @ WBS 1 7
2010-11-26 ALB @ MCH 7
2010-11-27 BNG @ ALB 1
2010-12-01 WBS @ ALB 1 2
2010-12-03 HER @ ALB 1 1 -2 2
2010-12-04 ALB @ RCH
2010-12-05 ADK @ ALB 5
2010-12-11 WOR @ ALB -1 2
2011-01-07 CHA @ ALB -1
2011-01-08 SYR @ ALB 2
2011-01-11 ALB @ WOR
2011-01-14 BNG @ ALB 5
2011-01-15 SPR @ ALB 5
2011-01-19 BNG @ ALB -1 12
2011-01-21 ALB @ HER -2 10
2011-01-22 ALB @ WBS -1 5
2011-01-29 RCH @ ALB -1 2
2011-02-04 HER @ ALB 1 1 1 1 11 1
2011-02-05 MCH @ ALB 1 9
2011-02-07 WBS @ ALB -2 2 2
2011-02-12 ALB @ CHA 1 8
2011-02-13 ALB @ CHA -1 10
2011-02-15 ALB @ CHA 1
2011-02-18 WOR @ ALB 2 5
2011-02-19 ALB @ BNG
2011-02-20 ADK @ ALB 1 1 1 2 5
2011-02-25 ALB @ SPR 1 1 -1 1 2
2011-02-26 ALB @ HER 1 1 2 7
2011-02-27 NOR @ ALB
2011-03-01 ALB @ BNG 5
2011-03-04 NOR @ ALB -1 2 6
2011-03-05 ADK @ ALB 1 2
2011-03-06 ALB @ ADK 1 1 1 1 14
2011-03-09 BRI @ ALB -1 3 2
2011-03-11 ALB @ ADK 15
2011-03-12 SPR @ ALB 1
2011-03-13 SYR @ ALB 1 1 1 1 14
2011-03-16 ALB @ SYR 1 1 2 1 2
2011-03-18 ALB @ NOR -1 2 9
2011-03-19 ALB @ NOR 1 2
2011-03-23 ALB @ WBS 1 1 1 1 2
2011-03-25 ALB @ SYR -3 1
2011-03-26 ALB @ HER -1 14
2011-03-29 ADK @ ALB 16
2011-04-01 ALB @ ADK -3 21
2011-04-02 CHA @ ALB 9
2011-04-06 ALB @ ADK -1 1 4
2011-04-08 ALB @ SPR -1 14
2011-04-09 POR @ ALB 1
2011-04-10 ALB @ BRI 1 1 1 1
draft2011-prelim-nobreak

DRAFT APPROACHING

by NHL.com // 06.13.2011 // NHL Draft

Now that the NHL Scouting Combine has come and gone for 102 of the top draft-eligible prospects around the world, there’s no better time for NHL Network analyst and former NHL general manager Craig Button to unveil his favorites for 2011 Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn., on June 24.

Button revealed his top 10 picks — “Craig’s List” — on Sunday’s edition of “NHL On the Fly.” He told NHL.com that a line separates his top two choices, center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Red Deer in the Western Hockey League and versatile forward Jonathan Huberdeau of the Saint John Sea Dogs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and the remaining eight players.

When NHL Central Scouting released its final list of North American and European skaters in April, Nugent-Hopkins topped the charts at No. 1, followed by left wing Gabriel Landeskog of the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League, Huberdeau, defenseman Dougie Hamilton of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs and defenseman Nathan Beaulieu of Saint John. Among the Europeans, Skelleftea’s Adam Larsson was listed No. 1, followed by Djurgarden’s Mika Zibanejad and Farjestad’s Jonas Brodin.

Interestingly, Button does not have Hamilton among his top 10. Zibanejad, meanwhile, has been said to have better upside than current New Jersey Devils forward Jacob Josefson.

More Draft Coverage
North American Ranking
Skaters | Goalies
European Ranking
Skaters | Goalies

Here’s what Button had to say about each of his top 10 prospects:

10. Jonas Brodin, Farjestad (Sweden): “Jonas played in the Elite League up until the final and then joined his Under-18 team in Germany. He’s a really quick-footed defenseman. He’s not physically developed yet, but once he does he’s the type of defenseman every team would love to have. He’s a competitor and a guy who can play in any situation. He gets the puck out of your zone via skating or with a great pass.”

9. Nathan Beaulieu, Saint John (QMJHL): “He’s great at being able to jump into the rush. (Saint John coach) Gerard Gallant encouraged him to do those things, to not to be afraid to make a great play but to just understand when to do it and when not to do it. Over the course of the season, Nathan really developed that skill. When you look at his dynamic skating ability and that ability to create advantages on the rush by jumping into the play, he’ll certainly bring that element to any team that gets him.”

8. Adam Larsson, Skelleftea (Sweden): “There’s talk about him being a top pick. He played another season in the men’s league and for a second straight time with Sweden at the World Junior Championship. He’s a real rangy type defenseman, who can shoot the puck and play a lot of minutes. I think he’s better suited for the North American rink because you’ll be able to take advantage of his size and his reach. He’s not shy about playing physical.”

7. Sean Couturier, Drummondville (QMJHL): “He’s a big strong center; another player touted at the beginning of the year as a high pick. He still deserves to be mentioned as a highly-touted player. He reminds me a lot of a cross between Eric Staal and Jordan Staal and that’s a valuable player on any team that’s interested in winning. Sean has that capability to be that really long term center, who’ll play against any other team’s top centers and produce offense.”

6. Ryan Strome, Niagara (OHL): “When I see Ryan Strome, I think of Denis Savard. He’s got that kind of uncanny ability to do things that nobody’s expecting, pulling people out of their seats. He’s quick, he’s aggressive and one of those guys who you think you might be able to knock him down and get a piece of but, before you know it, he’s by you or gliding to the open ice. He’s a real highly skilled center.”

5. Mika Zibanejad, Djurgarden (Sweden): “He’s known as the Persian Prince as the son of an Iranian father and Finnish mother. If you want a comparison to the type of player he might look like when he gets to the NHL, think of Bobby Holik. He’s nasty, he’ll chip in with some offense, he’ll play on the wing. Any type of game you’re in, Mika can play in it and he plays it with a great competitive desire and a great physical presence. He can chip in offensively, defensively, and is that type of player for a coach to have on the ice at any time in the game.”

4. Ryan Murphy, Kitchener (OHL): “There’s been a lot of talk about Ryan not being the tallest guy, but I don’t care if he’s tall. He’s 5-foot-10 1/2 and there have been some pretty good defensemen who were only 5-10 or 5-11 in the NHL. Ryan Murphy, to me, is a dynamic player. He’s the type of guy, who, when you’re playing against him, he doesn’t know what he’s going to do, so how can you know what he’s going to do. He’s kind of a cross between Dan Boyle and that ability to jump into the attack and Sergei Zubov since he has a great ability to think the game at such a high level.”

3. Gabriel Landeskog, Kitchener (OHL): “He played in the OHL for two years. He’s a terrific player, a competitor, someone out of the mold of a Brenden Morrow; he’ll take the puck to the net, but if you want some hard play along the boards, if you want some puck battles won in the corners and in the heavy hard games, Gabriel is the guy who’ll be able to lead you. There’s a lot of talk about him being a future captain, and that’s a deserved reputation he has because this guy is all character, as well as skill.”

2. Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John (QMJHL): “There have been some comparisons to Michel Goulet, the Hall of Famer. Huberdeau is deserved of that because he’s a complete player. He’s quick and fast and he’s got so much potential in front of him. He’s got a good chance to be a real, real top player in the NHL.”

1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Red Deer (WHL): “When you look at him and watch him play, he’s gifted. It starts with an unbelievably brilliant mind and then he takes that awareness through his vision and great quickness in his hands and feet to make everyone around him better. Everybody looks at him and says, he’s slight or he might not be the strongest guy. During the NHL Combine, he said, I didn’t know bench presses helped me score goals. But he’s elusive and you may look at him and say he’s an easy target to knock off, but he never gets hit. He makes everyone around him better and to me, No. 1 centermen like him are not easy to find. To me, he’s established himself as the No. 1 guy heading into the draft.”

0610parise

MY DRAFT DAY: ZACH PARISE

by New Jersey Devils // 06.11.2011 // Feature

Zach Parise’s draft day experience threw him for a loop.

Fresh off of his superb freshman season at North Dakota (WCHA), many had the Faribault, Minn., native projected to go top 10 at the 2003 Entry Draft in Nashville.

NHL Central Scouting ranked him ninth among North American skaters. “He lacks size, but so did his father (former NHLer J.P.), who made up for it with a tireless work ethic,” read Parise’s prospect capsule. “Some scouts believe he’s one of the best prospects to come out of college in years.”

After 10 selections, though, Parise was still available. As the draft continued, Parise had a hunch he might land in San Jose or Long Island. But those picks came and went, and his wait dragged on.

Once the Devils, who had just won their third Stanley Cup, traded up to 17 from 22, Parise suspected he was Jersey-bound.

The Devils’ move paid off. By his NHL fourth season, Parise would challenge the franchise’s single-season marks for goals and points, lighting the lamp 45 times en route to a career-high 94-point showing.

He’s been a bright star on the international stage as well, scoring the last-minute goal against Canada that forced overtime in the 2010 Olympic gold medal game.

With the Devils set to pick fourth overall at the 2011 Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center on June 24, we caught up with Parise to find out what he remembered about his draft day.

What are your memories of that day?
It was long, I remember that because there’s all those rankings that come out and I was supposed to be top 10, top 12, I think it was. Then once those picks passed I was kind of waiting and waiting. Then you get to teams that interviewed you and you thought the interviews went really well. There’s a team that after the interview you thought they’d be picking you for sure and then they (the Sharks) ended up having two picks before and I didn’t end up getting picked on either one of them.

It just kind of gets long and frustrating, and then after a while… you go there so excited and then you just want to get it over with as I kept sliding down. I thought for sure I was going to get picked by the Islanders with the [15th] pick. Just from my dad playing there I thought for sure, but that didn’t happen either. I kind of had a feeling once the Devils made the trade (acquiring Edmonton’s first-round pick for St. Louis’ first-rounder and a second-rounder), I kind of had a feeling that I was going to get picked then. It was just a weird feeling that I had.

At that point, is the feeling one excitement or relief?
It’s more just relief. You’re glad it’s over with. All the anticipation and everything, you’re just glad it’s done with, then you just look forward to moving on. I knew I was coming back to college, there wasn’t any question about that. I was going back to school for another year, but it’s a pretty cool thing going on the stage and meeting all the management and things like that. It’s pretty fun.

What’s the celebration like once that process is over?
It was fun. The Devils had just won the Cup, so they had a ballroom in one of the hotels and we got invited back to that. They had the Cup there and everything and we got to hang out there. I had some friends and family with me so after that we just took off and hung out with a friend that I brought out there.

So you get drafted and get to see the Stanley Cup… not bad.
Yeah that was pretty cool. I was kind of surprised when I walked in the room to see that it was already in there – it was pretty neat.

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