Free agents Anton Volchenkov and Henrik Tallinder got the multi-million dollar deals from the Devils this summer.
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Rookie defenseman Tyler Eckford is just hoping for a chance.
The question is whether Eckford, who signed a one-year, two-way contract on Thursday that would pay him $500,000 if he plays in the NHL, is ready to make the jump.
"Of course I'd like to think so," Eckford told me today as prospects camp came to an end after five days. "I've worked very hard the last few years. All I can do is put myself in the best position to get there. I just have to play my way into a spot.
"I've got to play good enough to give them no choice but to have me here."
The Devils will give several young players a shot when training camp opens in September. That means Eckford, Matt Corrente and Matt Taormina will be looking to do what Mark Fraser did last season-- graduate from the AHL.
"I'm looking forward to training camp, working hard and hopefuly cracking the lineup," Eckford said.
"I think it's a good opportunity for me here. I'm surrounded by great guys. I've learned from the best-- Scott Stevens and Larry Robinson. I feel very good that I get to play here."
The 6-1, 200-pound defenseman, the Devils' fifth pick (217th overall) in the 2004 entry draft, played three games last season and had one assist. It didn't go exactly as planned, but he gained experience.
"I think just the experience of being there and seeing what it takes, being around a game atmosphere with all the guys, was good," he said. "I was fortunate enough to get three games and kind of settle in. For me, just getting that confidence in being called up was a great reward. I came up, had a great time and learned a lot."
Eckford, who turns 25 on Sept. 8, will return home to Vancouver, work out and return to New Jersey with his eye on a Devils roster spot.
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As I mentioned earlier, the Devils ended their prospects camp today. Unfortunately, that means there will be no open scrimmage for fans on Saturday.
The five-day camp ended with right winger Aaron Lewicki, from Livonia, Mich., scoring a hat trick in a 5-3 scrimmage victory.
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