Devils Rookie Camp Part IIDate: July 16, 2014
The New Jersey Devils continued their 2014 Rookie Camp Tuesday morning at the AmeriHealth Pavilion in Newark, New Jersey.
Similar to Monday, there were two different practice sessions.However, forwards and defensemen were integrated in the two sessions, as the first group involved drafted and signed players, while the second group included unsigned prospects.Another difference in the second day of camp was the cancelation of the red and white scrimmage, allowing the NHL-hopefuls to rest.
While the biggest names on the Rookie Camp roster include forwards Reid Boucher and Stefan Matteau as well as defensemen Damon Severson and Steven Santini, there was one forward that also stood out.His name is Connor Chatham.
The Belleville, Illinois native was drafted by the Devils last month in the third round, going 71st overall.He was in Philadelphia with his parents, Grey and Karen, his brothers, Kyle and Cole, and his cousin, Brice Baricevic.When he was announced as the 71st pick, the family was elated to say the least.
"We were nervous at first, I had no idea what to expect, but once it happened, we were very relieved," the 18-year-old forward said.
At a staggering 6-foot-3 and 225 lbs, Chatham's presence alone enabled him to stand out among the vertically challenged prospects.While his size and physicality was a given, he builds on that with his explosive skating and powerful shot.He attributes that to former minor-leaguer and longtime coach Rob Hutson, who began working with Chatham since the age of nine.
"He taught me how to power skate since day one.I think my skating is a huge part of my game today, so he gave me skill that I could take to the next level," said Chatham. Hutson also gave him a piece of advice after the draft, as Chatham noted, "[Hutson] let me know the difference between [the minors] and where he wants me to be…he wants me to be in the NHL."
Before training camp, Chatham completed his first season in the Ontario Hockey League, playing for the Plymouth Whalers.In 54 games, he tallied 13 goals, 18 assists, totaling for 31 points.He hopes to build upon his experience at Rookie Camp for his second season with the Whalers.
"You can use this camp as a measuring stick. These are the guys that I'm competing against to eventually make the Devils, so I see where my competition is, and I can take that back to juniors when I go and make myself that much better and be ready for next year."
While the camp can be very competitive, Chatham is enjoying his experience in New Jersey.As he stays in the Garden State for the rest of the week, he is well aware of the town in Morris County that shares his family name.He said that many of his friends informed him of the coincidence shortly after the draft.
"A good friend of mine also happens to live in Chatham," Connor added with a smile.
The Devils currently have an abundance of forwards on the active roster.Considering that most of the forwards on the team are older than 30, there should be open roster spots for Chatham by the time he has gained more experience in Plymouth and Albany.But for now, he will continue to let his presence be known at Rookie Camp.