ALBANY, NY — When a player totals 112 points in just 68 games, people take notice. That was the case for the New Jersey Devils, who courted Joseph Blandisi during his final year playing for Barrier of the OHL.
The Devils saw potential in Blandisi and Blandisi saw opportunity with New Jersey.
“The Devils showed a lot of interest in me,” Blandisi said after Tuesday’s practice at Knickerbacker Ice Arena. “It obviously feels good when a team really cares about you and shows a lot of confidence in you and has faith in you. I knew this summer I wanted to go somewhere where I would play so this opportunity was definitely a good fit with the team getting younger.”
After missing all but 47 games with Ottawa and Barrie in 2013-14, Blandisi exploded in 2014-15, leading the league with 52 goals. Additionally, he had six goals and eight assists in nine playoff contests.
New Jersey assigned Blandisi to Albany on Saturday and already Head Coach Rick Kowalsky has him playing alongside Paul Thompson – the team’s leading goal scorer a year ago.
“Blandisi looked good right from day one,” Kowalsky said. “He had a good rookie tournament in Buffalo and had a good training camp and we know what he did in the exhibition games. Talk about the youth movement in New Jersey and this is the most youth we have had in some time. These guys are all going to be big pieces of the puzzle for us and so far it’s still early, but they have shown well in what they have done.”
Although it looks like Blandisi will begin the season in Albany, he did get a taste of NHL action, appearing in two preseason games and posting a goal and an assist.
“It’s a dream come true, Blandisi said. “You’ve been looking forward to this ever since you’re little. That was always the dream to play in the NHL and slowly became more realistic. I worked pretty hard for it and playing in my first NHL game was a lot of emotions going through my head; a lot of nerves as well. I felt a little bit better in the second and third period after it calmed down a bit it was a great experience and I’m thankful for that.”