Devils hit Point Pleasant for 2018 Beach Bash (PHOTOS)

August 19, 2018 - The Star Ledger - View Full Article

Kyle Palmieri, Keith Kinkaid and Travis Zajac represented the Devils in Point Pleasant at the team's third-annual Beach Bash. Watch video

A trip to Point Pleasant has morphed into the unofficial kickoff for a new season. Once the Devils hit the beach, you know hockey is near.

Devils players Kyle PalmieriTravis Zajac and Keith Kinkaid represented the Devils at the team's third annual Beach Bash at Jenkinson's Beach and Boardwalk, where they met with fans during a daylong event that included beach games and food.

The trio of current players were joined by Devils alumni Ken Daneyko, Bruce Driver and Bryce Salvador, and they all took time to meet with fans, sign autographs and take pictures.

Hockey is still a few weeks away, when players will officially report for training camp in the middle of September. Saturday served as one more chance to connect with fans before getting down to business.

"You don't realize how many Jersey fans are out there. Not only in Jersey, but in the U.S. and Canada," Zajac said. "When I go back home, they're everywhere. It's great support for this team. More support than I've seen for other teams and more loyalty, whether things go right or wrong. They're always there to have our back."

Prospects that could battle for spots

Fans were out to support a team that snapped a five-season postseason drought with their appearance in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and now the Devils are turning their attention to repeating that performance in 2018-19.

Yes, Zajac, Palmieri and Kinkaid are all aware of the offseason moves (or lack thereof) the Devils made. Palmieri said the Devils still have the tools and the prospects to pick up where they left off.

"A little bit of change. Lost a couple free agents that were pretty big pieces of our team at the end of last year," Palmieri said. "But I think that gives the young guys and the guys that got drafted in the last couple years and spent some time in the minors and juniors, it gives them a chance to come out and try to make a  team and make a name for themselves."

Chris Ryan may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRyan_NJ. Find Devils on Facebook.

Odds of Devils' Taylor Hall defending Hart Trophy, repeating as NHL MVP

August 16, 2018 - The Star Ledger - View Full Article

Devils forward Taylor Hall isn't the favorite to defend his NHL MVP award in 2018-19. Watch video

No player has won the Hart Trophy in back-to-back seasons since Alex Ovechkin won the NHL MVP award in 2007-08 and 2008-09.

With training camp and the 2018-19 season just around the corner, oddsmakers say Devils forward Taylor Hall isn't the favorite to break that trend.

Bovada released its 2018-19 NHL MVP odds, and Hall came in at 15/1 -- tied for sixth best among players listed.

Hall became the first Devils player to win the Hart Trophy following a career season in 2017-18, where he posted 39 goals, 54 assists and 93 points. His 41-point lead over Nico Hischier, who had 52 points, ranked as the highest gap between the top two scorers on any team last season. Hall's play also helped the Devils snap a playoff drought that dated back to 2012.

McLeod is prepping for 1st pro season

The odds have Hall's former teammate Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers as the favorite at 10/3. McDavid won the award in 2016-17, but despite leading the NHL in points in 2017-18, he finished in fifth place, largely due to the Oilers' distant finish outside of the playoff picture.

Perennial MVP candidates Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and John Tavares of the Toronto Maple Leafs all came in ahead of Hall. Crosby is the second favorite at 13/2, while Ovechkin and Tavares are both 10/1.

Tavares' teammate, Auston Matthews, who is entering his third NHL season, also came in at 10/1.

Among the other players tied with Hall at 15/1 are Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche and Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning. MacKinnon and Kucherov finished second and sixth, respectively, in last season's voting.

Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings opened at 18/1 after finishing third in the voting in 2017-18.

Chris Ryan may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRyan_NJ. Find Devils on Facebook.