Devils eyeing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Edmonton Oilers, report says

June 29, 2016 - The Star Ledger - View Full Article

According to a report from the Edmonton Journal, the Devils could be interested in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from the Edmonton Oilers.

In the quest to add more offensive firepower, the Devils are looking in places other than free agency, according to a report.

Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal tweeted Tuesday that the Devils are looking at 23-year-old center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers, with Devils defenseman prospect Damon Severson as a possible target for Edmonton. 

New Jersey is also looking for more scoring (RNH). Kelowna grad Damon Severson is in play on def. Oilers have likely investigated him too

-- Jim Matheson (@NHLbyMatty) June 28, 2016

The Oilers have been tied to trade talks for a defenseman since before the NHL Draft, with the possibility of the team shopping the fourth overall pick of last weekend's draft. The team ultimately held pat and selected right wing Jesse Puljujarvi.

Nugent-Hopkins was also tied to other trade talks in the Oilers quest for a defenseman, with him being linked in talks with the Minnesota Wild for Matthew Dumba or Jonas Brodin.

Lots of steam today that #mnwild and #oilers could partner up tonight. Wild likely targeting Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oilers Brodin or Dumba

-- Michael Russo (@Russostrib) June 24, 2016

Nugent-Hopkins finished with 34 points while playing 55 games last season. He finished with 52-plus points in his other three full NHL seasons, plus 24 points in 40 games during a lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign.

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The first overall pick of the 2011 draft signed a seven-year, $42 million contract prior to the 2014-15 season, keeping him under contract until the end of the 2020-21 season.

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

Devils' top pick Michael McLeod brings hard-nosed mentality

June 28, 2016 - The Star Ledger - View Full Article

Michael McLeod used his quiet, driven and hard-working mentality to become a first-round NHL pick. Now he'll use that same approach to work his way up with the New Jersey Devils. Watch video

NEWARK - Michael McLeod classifies himself a leader by example, whether on the ice during a game, or behind the scenes, prepping himself during training or practice.

Now a member of the Devils after being taken in the first round of the NHL Draft, the 18-year-old center is ready to put his head down and go back to work.

"I've always just been a hard-working guy, and I'm really competitive," McLeod told NJ Advance Media Sunday. "I'm always where the puck is, and I always want the puck on my stick. I'll do whatever to get it back."

McLeod's strengths and weaknesses

Capping off a long draft weekend, McLeod got his official introduction to the Devils by visiting the Prudential Center on Sunday, touring the facility and getting acclimated to his new organization. 

After being projected to go somewhere in the mid-teens of the 2016 NHL Draft, the Devils traded down from the 11th to 12th overall pick, grabbing McLeon out of Mississauga. 

"We like the fact that he's a center, so we can continue to build through the middle and add some strong depth, and he fits the style of play we want," Devils coach John Hynes said Friday night in Buffalo. "He's a very good skater, he's aggressive on the puck, he's got good skills, he can play at a high pace, and those are the things we want."

McLeod, who was originally from Mississauga in Ontario, Canada, before playing there in the OHL, saw his long journey to the draft completed Friday. 

He maintained his calm and reserved demeanor Sunday, just as he did after being drafted Friday, and throughout recent years while constantly playing in front of scouts.

Meet the 2016 Devils draft class

McLeod set his goals for the past few years and quietly went about working on them to help set up his high draft spot during the biggest year of his life.

"I had to round out my game and I think I did that a little bit, just being more of a two-way guy, being more reliable in all situations," he said. "I worked on getting faster, stronger. I put on weight before this year, so this year was something I've been looking at for a while."

The Devils had no qualms taking McLeod early, and they were able to trade down a spot to add an extra third-round pick on top of it. The Devils' scouts saw consistent play every time they watched, plus solid leadership skills and the effort to compliment the talent that can translate to success in the NHL.

"He's got a great combination of size and speed, and over the course of the season, he played with two other draft-eligible players most of the year, with (Alexander) Nylander and Nate Bastian, who we took in the second round, as well," Devils director of amateur scouting Paul Castron said. "It was a young line, called upon to carry their team, and he was big part of that."

McLeod also got the pleasant surprise of being reunited with Bastian when the Devils took him 41st overall. The fact that they were teammates didn't factor into the pick, but luck of the draw had both at the top of the team's list when their picks were up.

In Bastian, Devils get McLeod's social advisor

"It works out for both of us to be playing here together for a bit," McLeod said. "He didn't know where he was going in the draft, and neither did I, so it's pretty cool that we ended up with the same team. I don't think we expected that."

With the draft now behind him, McLeod has a sense of relief, but knows there's still a long road to travel. He's already set the goal of adding 10 to 15 pounds to his 6-2, 185-pound frame, acknowledging he needs the size to play center in the NHL.

While he knows the Devils won't rush anything, McLeod has every intention of making a push to get take the ice at The Rock as soon as he can.

"I think I can speed up the process, but I have to be ready, and that's up to me," he said. "So whatever they want me to do, I'll do."

Castron called the process with all prospects a marathon, not a sprint, and he prefers to see players thrive in their own age group for longer instead of risking the injury or size issues that the NHL can present. He said the decision ultimately comes down to Hynes, the coaching staff and general manager Ray Shero. 

Regardless of the Devils immediate plans for the center, McLeod will enter development camp and the rest of the offseason with one mentality.

"Obviously I want to make the Devils give me a hard look, so I'm going to train hard for that," McLeod said. "And I've got world junior camp coming up at the end of July, so that's big and something I want to make a good impression at. So it's going to be a big summer."

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