John Quenneville was considered a bit of a reach pick for the New Jersey Devils when the club selected him thirtieth overall at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, but he’s been exceeding expectations thus far.
The 19 year old centre from Edmonton, Alberta is coming off his third season with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL. In just fifty-seven games, he went for a tad under a point-per-game pace; his seventeen goals and thirty helpers were somewhat patchy at times but seemed to be a sign that he’s working towards a more consistent offensive game. He’s got good offensive instincts, and there’s been the sense that as he gains confidence, he’ll do well translating a surprisingly physical game for his size to the NHL level.
As a result, the Devils have inked him to a three year entry-level deal.
The Devils have struggled in the scouting department lately, particularly when it comes to their offensive scouting. They’ve done well with defensive prospects — both in drafting and in pulling in free agent talent, as they did this summer with cast-aside Arizona Coyotes pickup John Moore — but their forward corps leave more than a bit to be desired. The inking of Quenneville just following his draft year plus one suggests that GM Ray Shero is happy enough with what he’s seen to keep him around long-term.
For the young centre, the biggest concern will be not the remainder of his development at the WHL level, but how he’s utilized once he goes pro — which we can expect him to do in the 2015-2016 season. The Devils have struggled in recent years with crowding their offensive prospects too low in their AHL system, giving skaters such as Reid Boucher and Stefan Matteau limited ice time in favor of AHL veterans. The new regime under Shero should hopefully see this change, but there’s still the concern that stunted offensive development for the club is going to be a problem.
While Quenneville’s news is exciting, though, it’s having to compete with the news of Taylor Beck‘s one year extension for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The 24 year old power forward was dealt to the Leafs just yesterday afternoon, with fewer than two weeks pending until his player-elected salary arbitration hearing was scheduled to transpire. Beck was crowded in a forward corps for the Nashville Predators in a way that left his role with the team murky and somewhat ambiguous, so seeing his negotiation rights dealt to Toronto was likely a big relief.
Toronto gave the winger a one year bridge deal, worth a reported $875,000.
For Beck, this is the perfect ‘prove-it’ deal; he’s got one season to show the Leafs that he’s got the mildly above-average possession and considerable depth scoring worth a bigger salary jump next year. For Toronto, the deal is just as effective — without having to overpay for a player they haven’t seen in their system yet, the Atlantic Division club managed to add more depth with a potential long-term upside. A physical presence for the wing in the club’s bottom six, Beck could be a mainstay for the Leafs where Jamie Devane, the player he was dealt for, wasn’t looking likely to be able to serve efficiently.