The Devils acquired Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in a deal with the Blue Jackets last month; GM Corey Chernuka gave his thoughts in a brief press conference.
The rumors of Adam Henrique departing the swamp turned out to be true.
The New Jersey Devils packaged Henrique, along with forward Rocco Grimaldi, defenseman Alexandre Carrier, a 4th round pick in 2021, and future considerations to Columbus for center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. If the Devils re-sign Nugent-Hopkins to a contract extension during the season, Columbus will also receive a 2nd round pick in 2022.
GM Corey Chernuka held a brief news conference just prior to training camp, introducing the new acquisition to fans.
“The New Jersey Devils are thrilled with the acquisition of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins! It was a long negotiation, and we ended up giving up a lot of assets in the deal. I want to make it abundantly clear that we see Ryan as a core piece of our franchise. We intend on locking him up to a long-term contract."
"Ryan is an elite center who can also play left wing. This gives us a lot of additional roster flexibility should we need to change things up as the season progresses. This also solidifies our second line, giving us that secondary scoring and a second powerplay unit. We see Ryan centering a line between winger Justin Williams and youngster Ilya Mikheyev.”
Chernuka then opened up the floor to reporter questions.
Mark Spector: “You’ve essentially traded one unrestricted free agent for another and gave up multiple additional assets. How do you look fans in the eye if Nugent-Hopkins ends up heading to free agency after this season?”
Chernuka: “We feel that the acquisition of Nugent-Hopkins puts us over the top this season. While losing any player to free agency is always a possibility, we feel that we can prove to Ryan that this is where he belongs, where he can build a life in the community and where he can build a career."
"The New Jersey Devils are a team that’s built to win now. We are clear in our expectations and roles. We put players in positions to succeed. I think Ryan can appreciate that. Some organizations just throw young players into the deep end and its sink or swim. While that may work occasionally, more often than not, a player’s confidence will be shaken or shattered resulting in delayed development or worse. Hockey is just as much a skill game as it is a psychological game.”
Pierre Lebrun: “Does Nugent-Hopkins get a letter on his jersey?”
Chernuka: “We definitely see Ryan as being part of the leadership group here. He has a history of being assistant captain with the Edmonton Oilers, so he’s no stranger to being in that role. We’ve already named our captain and assistants for this upcoming year, so we don’t see letters changing. I’m a firm believer that you don’t need to have a letter on your sweater to be leader in the room and on the ice."
"To be successful, everyone needs to stand up and do their part. Leadership is not just one guy’s responsibility; it’s a collective responsibility of everyone on the team.”
Larry Brooks: “It’s a bit fitting that Nugent-Hopkins will face-off against his former coach, Todd McLellan, in his first pre-season game with the New Jersey Devils. Any comments on the pre-season opener?”
Chernuka: “The Capitals will be a good test for our club. They are a dangerous team who can make you pay. We need to play a smart, defensive game, and completely shut down their potent offense. We need to gel quickly and work as a unit.”
With no other questions from reporters, the press conference came to a close.