The New Jersey Devils have recalled their “Black Aces”, several players who will skate with the team throughout the playoffs but are not expected to play. Christoph Bertschy, Nick Lappin, Michael McLeod, Blake Pietila, Kevin Rooney, Michael Kapla and Brian Strait are all on their way up from Binghamton. The AHL squad did not qualify for the playoffs, meaning the season is over for the rest of the team’s prospects.
For McLeod, the 12th-overall pick from 2016, it’s been a disappointing. After dealing with injury to start the year, he returned to the Mississauga Steelheads and didn’t take the expected step forward to become one of the most dangerous players in the league. Though his game has always been built on using his speed to play a solid two-way game, scoring 100 points in 77 games during the 2016-17 season showed off exactly how much offense he could create. In 44 games this year he recorded just 54 points, and Mississauga was knocked out in the first round of the OHL playoffs.
Hopefully a taste of the NHL playoffs will be able to spark another level in his development, and he’ll be battling for an NHL spot out of camp in the fall. Otherwise, he’s headed for the AHL to hone his skills and try to be the next young star to help widen New Jersey’s newfound window of contention.