Updated: Sep 25, 2020
After numerous disappointing NHL seasons, the New Jersey Devils have decided to go in a new direction with their team prior to the inaugural Beard Hockey League season.
Devils team president Jake Reynolds made the announcement of the hiring of new General Manager Corey Chernuka at an early morning press conference on Thursday, September 24th. Reynolds' statement:
“I’d like to first thank interim General Manager Tom Fitzgerald for his hard work and dedication. It was a difficult decision, but leading up the dispersal draft, I felt the team needed to go in a different direction.
"The New Jersey Devils are embracing a more analytical approach going forward and will need to bring in staff that are better suited for that approach. It is with great pleasure that I announce the hiring of Corey Chernuka.
"Corey has lived and breathed hockey in Northern Alberta all his life. While he doesn’t have any NHL-level GM experience, he does have extensive fantasy hockey experience dating back to the mid-1990s. He also holds a degree from the University of Alberta in Computer Science with a Mathematics minor.
"I look forward to building a competitive team alongside Corey that can challenge for the cup year after year.”
With the Beard Hockey League Dispersal Draft order being broadcast live this weekend, the New Jersey Devils will soon know in which order they will be picking. The actual Dispersal Draft begins on Friday, October 2nd.
Chernuka took to the stage to answer questions from reporters:
Pierre Lebrun: What made you take the GM position with the New Jersey Devils?
Chernuka: I’m a firm believer in hockey analytics; Corsi, Fenwick, PDO, Zone Starts, scoring chances, etc. When Jake called me up and told me the direction he wanted to take his team, I told him I’d be on the next plane! We are in a unique situation where we have a blank canvas going into the dispersal draft. We have the ability to have full control over what kind of team we build.
Elliotte Friedman: With the Dispersal order coming up this weekend, what position do you hope to be picking?
Chernuka: Honestly, I’m mostly excited to just find out where we end up picking and aren’t really hoping for a specific position. There will be advantages and disadvantage for each position. We are currently working hard and digging into the analytics to come up with our draft list. We’ve also had some talk with other GM's about potentially trading up or trading down so we might have some flexibility if we see that a change may be needed.
Bob McKenzie: What would be your ideal team composition? Are you looking for a more 'run-and-gun' style? A punishing checking team with truculence? A more typical defensive New Jersey team? Or a younger team built to win in the future?
Chernuka: Who we end up drafting will depend on who is available at that particular pick. We will make our decisions largely dependent on the underling analytics of the players and how they would complement each other. Some balance is needed for sure, but I don’t want to show my hand to my fellow GM's just yet.
Mark Spector: Are you planning on being a cap team?
Chernuka: I think it’s pretty dangerous going to into a new league, with a new financial structure, being a cap team out of the gate. It’s prudent to leave yourself some maneuverability. I highly doubt we will be a cap team.