On the eve of camp, Devils GM Ray Shero was busy, first inking former Cane Jiri Tlusty to a one-year $800k one-way deal. Tlusty had reportedly five offers for tryout invites to camp (including one from us) but held out for a contract, and with camp beginning today the Devils stepped up and inked the 27-year old Czech winger at a bargain price. A one-time Leafs first-round pick, Tlusty had his best years in Carolina, including the lockout season of 2013 where he put up 23 goals and 38 points in 48 games. Tlusty hasn’t had as good production the last two years but still has twenty-goal talent and that output’s sorely needed on this Devils team. Perhaps Tlusty can also follow in the footsteps of recent Czech imports like Marek Zidlicky and Jaromir Jagr and get a fresh lease on life here. Even with all of the Devils’ recent change, Czech standard bearer Patrik Elias is still around.
Shero also inked a couple of intriguing PTO’s, inviting winger Lee Stempniak and center Tyler Kennedy to camp. Stempniak can compete for a job at RW, where our depth chart is currently Kyle Palmeri and a bunch of question marks. Although he started last season with the Rangers, he was traded to Winnipeg where he made a bigger impact in their playoff push, putting up six goals and ten points in eighteen games there and scoring the Jets’ first playoff goal in nearly two decades. Previously Stempniak finished the 2013-14 season in Pittsburgh and had a strong stretch drive there as well when Shero was the GM. Although another lifetime ago Stempniak actually had a 27-goal season with the Blues, he’s clearly just a role player at this point. Kennedy also played under Shero in Pittsburgh for six seasons and had some solid years there, including a 21-goal 45-point season in 2010-11, but his production’s fallen off significantly since the lockout.