Chasing Dragons takes a look at Blaze’s new D-man, Michael Devin, who joined the Blaze today. Blaze fans will be hoping Friday 13th is their lucky day.
Mike Devin is a 25-year-old American defenceman from Scituate, Massachussetts, standing 6’2 and weighing in at 210lbs. He comes to the Blaze from SC Riessersee in the German DEL2, after a career that has also seen stops at the BCHL’s Nainamo Clippers, Cornell University and Elmira Jackals of the ECHL, as well as a training camp with the AHL’s Binghampton Senators.
Michael Devin started his playing career in the Massachusetts high-school system at Catholic Memorial High School, before heading to Western Canada to spend a successful year with the BCHL’s Nainamo Clippers, a year which saw him score 8+27 before heading to Cornell University in New York State to study sociology and play hockey. (The Big Red has seen another one of its alumni join the Blaze in netminder Ian Burt, way back in 2001/02). During his four years with the Big Red, Devin played with current NHL players like Colin Greening (Ottawa Senators) and Ben Scrivens of the Toronto Maple Leafs, as well as his twin brother Joe. He was part of a conference-champion team in his junior year (2009-10) and scored a combined total of 54 points (19+35) from the blue line in 132 games.
After his college career ended, Mike turned pro with the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals, and played 65 games, scoring four points as he was used mainly for his size and defensive ability, before heading to the DEL2 last season and sharing a team with Adam Henrich in SC Riessersee, as well as Cardiff Devils’ Andrew Lord-although he elected not to return this season, leading to him being signed by the Blaze as a free agent. This is his second season in Europe.
Devin’s signing comes on the recommendation of current Blaze forwards Adam Henrich and Kevin Harvey, and has already attracted the attention of another former EIHLer in the now-retired ex-Belfast Giant Mike Hoffman. He’s a big, rangy defenceman who, according to Hoffman on Twitter today, can play at both ends with a missile of a shot and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves. Which makes it a little more surprising that he hasn’t been snapped up yet.
However, he may like to drop the gloves but on the evidence of this video at least, Blaze would prefer him to use his solid play and “missile shot”…the link below is Devin taking on current Nottingham Panthers forward Leigh Salters in the ECHL:
Devin is described by Blaze coach Matty Soderstrom as “a good all round dman-the kind we were looking for since we lost Mike Egener”, and his stats appear to bear this out…aside from 35 points in the BCHL he’s never scored more than 15 points in a season, and only one every ten games in the ECHL. Blaze fans shouldn’t expect him to light up the points charts but at a similar size to Mike Egener he’ll likely be expected to play the same role.
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
Devin comes recommended by two Blaze players who have already played with him, and an endorsement from Mike Hoffman is no mean praise either. He’s big and strong, and has played at a high level already, winning a championship at one of the best hockey colleges in North America and sticking a season in DEL2 last year. Above all else, he fills the gap left by Mike Egener and provides an extra option on D, allowing the likes of Sean Erickson to range forward much more and add balance to a very offensive Blaze D corps
FLIES IN THE OINTMENT
Many Blaze fans wanted a true marquee replacement for Egener, and Devin, with the best will in the world, is not a player to set the fans alight straight away. Also, the pressure of coming in and taking a number-1 D slot will either cause a reshuffle in the Blaze defensive order or, more likely, lead to all eyes being on him from the off. He has big skates to fill, does Mike Devin.
SO WHERE WILL HE FIT IN?
Honestly-only Matty Soderstrom knows right now. We’ll get our first glimpse of Devin next week, as he won’t arrive in time for this weekends meetings with Belfast and Fife. One would assume that he’ll be pencilled in for exactly the same role Mike Egener was-providing the solid defensive counterpart to the likes of Sean Erickson and James Griffin charging forward on either the first or second D-pair, as well as being expected to play a big role on the penalty-kill.
Devin was a signing that had to be made-not necessarily him, but the type of player we’re told he is. Soderstrom has gone the route of searching out such a new player on personal recommendation from those he already has at the club rather than swinging for the fences on a big-name signing-a move which has been greeted with mixed reactions already by the Blaze faithful, many of whom expected a player with a more impressive CV and indeed one equal to Egener’s-with only two years of pro experience Devin will be young and hungry, but not perhaps as proven as some of the other dmen in the league.
However, Mike Devin has a chance to come in and make a name for himself-and the Blaze will be hoping he takes it with both hands, because they need him to fill some big skates, very quickly.