Devils Summer Plans: Worlds, Weddings and Roadtrips
The Devils’ summer is in full swing as the team parted ways earlier this month. Some have gathered in Finland while others will look to prioritize their health and prepare for the upcoming season. During the team exit interviews, the players shared some of their summer plans, including a road trip across the country and a wedding. Let’s check it out and see what your favorite players are up to over the next few months.
Eight Devils players will participate in the world championship
Yesterday, Team Canada announced its captains and Devils defenseman Damon Severson was selected to wear the “A” on his jersey during the tournament. During exit interviews, he expressed his excitement about playing for Team Canada with some of his New Jersey teammates. This is his second appearance at the IIHF World Championship. On April 29, 2019, he was selected to Canada’s roster and finished the tournament with six points (one goal, five assists) in 10 games. The Manitoba native had a career-high 46 points last season, finishing with the fifth-most points on the Devils.
Unlike his defensive partner, Ryan Graves makes his first appearance representing Canada at the World Championships. At 26, he is coming off the best offensive season of his young career with 28 points in 75 games. New Jersey traded the 6-foot-5 defenseman on July 15, 2021 in exchange for Mikhail Maltsev and a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. It should be noted that Maltsev only played 18 games with the Colorado Avalanche and could not register a point.
It’s been quite a season for rookie Dawson Mercer. He surprised everyone, including Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald, who didn’t expect the youngster to make the opening night roster. He was the only Devils player to play in all 82 games and finished his first season with 46 points, seventh among all league rookies. During his end-of-season press conference, he proudly spoke about what it means to him to represent his home country in Finland.
“It’s a great opportunity. I love all the Hockey Canada events I’ve attended in the past, and now this is another event to add to the list,” Mercer said. “It’s a great experience for me. [to get in] more games and that will prepare me for the future of my career and that’s a great opportunity. Playing the world championship is a great honor and representing my country again so when they called me I didn’t hesitate I wanted to say yes and go there and it will be quite important for me to put this sweater again.”
United States team
One of the most unexpected names announced for the tournament was goalkeeper Jon Gillies. He arrived in New Jersey via an exchange on January 15. The 6-foot-6 goaltender started 15 games with the Devils and finished the season with a 3-10-2 record. The New Hampshire native was thrown into a tough spot as he only played 13 NHL games before joining Lindy Ruff’s team. This will be his first time representing Team USA at the Men’s World Championship, although he competed at two World Junior Championships in 2013 and 2014.
Luke Hughes was also named to the USA team. At 18, he has just completed an impressive freshman year at the University of Michigan. His impressive numbers included 17 goals and 22 assists in 41 games. The Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Year was a plus-25 as he led all rookies in scoring.
Tomas Tatar is no stranger to playing at Worlds as this is his seventh appearance. In 2012, he was the youngest player from the Slovak outfit to appear in all 10 games for his team as they won the silver medal. The Devils forward finished with two goals and three assists. He explained that he is always thrilled to play for his country and having so many of his New Jersey teammates in the tournament adds to the excitement.
Related: 5 Prospects The Devils Should Be Targeting With The Second Overall Pick
“Personally, I like it, I want to beat them, get the upper hand… It’s always exciting to fight and compete against your friends. It comes with a lot of chatter, but I think we all appreciate it, I wish everyone the best of luck in the tournament and hope the best team wins.
Nico Hischier and Jonas Siegenthaler both represent Switzerland along with a handful of other NHL players. The two will be competing in their third world championship tournament. The Devils captain had a phenomenal season with 21 goals and 60 points in 70 games played. The New Jersey defenseman developed into a top-notch standout player and one of the team’s most reliable defensemen until his injury on April 7. Like his teammates, Hischier spoke of the excitement surrounding the event.
“It should be a fun tournament. I can’t wait to see my Swiss teammates, a lot of friends in this team as well. I just want to go out there, have fun, play hard and hopefully get a medal for the Swiss team,” said Hischier. “Usually with all the European fans, different fans from different countries coming together…it’s a good fun experience.”
Severson’s Great Summer
In addition to representing his county in Finland during the offseason, the Devils’ most established defender will also get married at the end of June. He’s been with his fiancée, Drey, since 2012 and after 8½ years together, he popped the question in Kelowna, B.C. with a gorgeous lake view as a backdrop. Severson has previously mentioned that they are a private couple, but shared that his future wife used to play hockey growing up and will always remind her to stick to her goals during the season. Congratulations to the happy couple!
Additional off-season plans
- Mackenzie Blackwood will be heading home to see family and friends, but doesn’t expect to take a ton of time off. He enters the offseason feeling refreshed and is excited to be training for the upcoming season instead of nursing himself from a nagging injury.
- When Graves returns from Finland, he will return to Prince Edward Island. Like most New Jerseyans, he enjoys his summer by the water and spends a lot of time at the beach and on the golf course with his friends and family.
- Due to his injury, Jack Hughes had no plans to go to the World Championship to play alongside his younger brother Luke. The former first overall pick will focus on his health this summer so he’ll be ready to go when training camp opens.
- Ty Smith will hit the road with his father who will meet him in New Jersey. It will travel 31 hours to Saskatoon before continuing its journey to Kelowna and eventually reaching its destination of Vancouver.
Through social media, Devils fans will be able to connect with some of their favorite players throughout the offseason, as most have public Instagram and Twitter accounts. Like previous summers, it will be over in a heartbeat and before fans know it, the boys will be back at the Prudential Center preparing for the 2022-23 season.
Kristy has been contributing to The Hockey Writers since March 2021. She is excited to put her journalism degree to good use and is an accredited correspondent covering the New Jersey Devils. Kristy is also a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. You can follow his journey on Twitter @InStilettos_NHL and Instagram SkatingInStilettos.