by Ray Kuhn
Two teams let Joe Blandisi go without even a contract and the entire NHL passed on him. It seems like their loss is the New Jersey Devils’ gain.
Blandisi was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche with the 164th pick in the 2012 draft and they left him in the OHL without a contract. When he was still unsigned he went undrafted in 2014 and made it through a Buffalo Sabres tryout camp without a contract. The Devils jumped in and signed Blandisi to a contract last January while he was in the midst of a career season with the Barrie Colts of the OHL.
The forward spent four seasons in the OHL, between 2011 and 2015, and in 246 games he scored 108 goals and 136 assists coming in just shy of a point per game. However the majority of that production (52 goals and 60 assists in 68 games) came last season.
When the Devils signed him last year the General Manager at the time, Lou Lamoriello, described Blandisi as a “two-way center iceman, a scorer.” After the season, Lamoriello then said this about Blandisi to NJ.com:
“He really blossomed. He was injured a year ago. Our scouts certainly liked him. He had an outstanding year. We’re anxious to see what he looks like in camp.”
It was clear that Blandisi truly showed improvement and took strides last season as Lamoriello left the Devils with a nice parting gift. As he concluded his OHL career by winning the Overage Player of the Year award, the Barrie General Manager had this to say about Blandisi:
“Joe took it upon himself this past off-season to put himself into the best possible position to become one of the better forwards in the league,” said Colts General Manager Jason Ford. “His focus and willingness to win were second to none this past season, and we wish Joe all the best moving forward with the Devils organization.”
Blandisi started the season in the AHL and scored seven goals with 14 assists in 24 games before being promoted to the big club. After joining the Devils he has three goals and seven assists in 16 games as he begins to look more comfortable at the NHL level.
We are still dealing with a very small sample size, but thus far it does appear that Blandisi belongs. He has shown the ability to be a factor on the power play with two goals and an assist, and his role on the offensive end continues to grow. Blandisi could turn out to be a real find for the Devils.
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