With Mike Cammalleri returning to the lineup tonight, the New Jersey Devils announced that they have reassigned forward Blake Pietila to the AHL’s Albany Devils. The 24-year-old left winger is in his second season with the Devils organization, but has yet to really make an impact at the pro level. A 2011 fifth-round pick, Pietila was a consistent contributor at Michigan Tech for four seasons before signing with New Jersey prior to last season. In 17 NHL games thus far, Pietila has just one goal and two assists, with just a lone point in in 2016-17. Down in the AHL, Pietila has put up modest offense, scoring 17 points in 58 games last season to go with 29 points through 42 games so far this season. Pietila has seen an uptick in his two-way play this season though and, armed with great hockey intelligence and instincts, could be working toward a future as a bottom-six forward in the NHL. With New Jersey sitting in the basement of the Eastern Conference with no shot at the playoffs, they can afford to give project players like Pietila some play time down the stretch.
- Another AHL player on the move, now on his way back up to the big leagues after a short stint in the minors, is the Chicago Blackhawks’ Vinnie Hinostroza. As The Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc reports, the young forward has been called up from the Rockford Ice Hogs. Hinostroza has skated in a majority of the Blackhawks’ games this season, recording six goals and eight assists in 48 games. Though Hinostroza has been averaging less than twelve minutes of ice time per game while playing a bottom-six role in Chicago this season, he is a strong skater, an accurate shooter, and a versatile player who can line up at all three forward spots and succeed. Hinostroza has a bright future with the Blackhawks and will be a useful contributor down the stretch.
- Perhaps filling the hole left by Hinostoza in Rockford could be Matheson Iacopelli or William Pelletier. The AHL squad announced today that they had signed the pair to amateur tryout agreements for the remainder of the season. Iacopelli, a 2014 third-round pick of the Blackhawks, decided to leave Western Michigan University early, turning pro after just two seasons. The big winger was nearly a point-per-game player this year for the Broncos. Pelletier is a more intriguing story though, jumping right from Division III Norwich University to the American Hockey League. Pelletier just finished up his fourth season season at Norwich, where he scored two points per game, with 18 goals and 28 assists in 23 contests, and led the Cadets to a DIII National Championship and claimed tournament MVP honors as well. At just 5’7″, 172 lbs., Pelletier is small and speedy with clear offensive instincts, but faces an uphill battle to reach his NHL goals given his stature and lack of experience against strong competition. However, if Norwich alum Keith Aucoin could have an NHL career, there is hope for Pelletier as well, and it all starts in Rockford this weekend.