By Mike Mastovich
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Andre Deveaux has been a big addition to the Johnstown Chiefs lineup both statistically and physically.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Tampa Bay Lightning prospect has two goals and six points in three games since being assigned to Johnstown by the AHL’s Springfield Falcons.
The 22-year-old has used his size, strength and aggressiveness to create scoring opportunities as the Chiefs went 2-0-1 in games against the North Division’s top three teams.
“You’ve got to play to your advantages and, obviously, size is my advantage,” said Deveaux, who had six goals, 11 points and 135 penalty minutes in 59 games with Springfield this season. “That’s my game. I’ve got to muck it up in the corners and bring the puck to the net and finish my checks. If I don’t do that, I’m not going to be effective.”
Effective? Deveaux scored the game-tying goal and assisted on the game-winner as the Chiefs overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat Wheeling 6-2 on Sunday at Cambria County War Memorial Arena. The two teams will meet again tonight at 7:30 at the War Memorial.
He assisted on Randy Rowe’s goal in a 2-0 victory over visiting Toledo on Saturday. Deveaux netted a goal and an assist in his Chiefs’ debut, a 6-5 overtime loss at Reading on Friday.
Frank Anzalone welcomed the addition to his lineup. The Chiefs coach believes Deveaux, who was drafted by Montreal in the fourth round in 2002, has the tools to play in the AHL and, perhaps one day, the NHL.
“Deveaux is a guy that I think Tampa is saying, ‘OK, Andre, go down and see if you can learn a couple things and fine-tune your game so that when you play in the AHL again, your game will be really good.’ Obviously he has great possibilities to play at the next level or higher as a good, solid third-line right winger that can check, finish and score,” Anzalone said. “He’s fine-tuning his game just like (Chiefs forward and Tampa prospect) Adam Henrich. You get the game right down here so that when you go up, it’s right.”
The Lightning signed Deveaux as a free agent in September 2004 after he made an impression during a prospect tournament in Traverse City, Mich. Deveaux had four goals, 12 points and 210 penalty minutes in 73 games as a rookie with the AHL’s Falcons in 2004-05. This season, Springfield has struggled to sixth place out of seven teams in the Atlantic Division. The Chiefs have provided Deveaux an opportunity to polish his game and be part of a playoff team in the ECHL, assuming Deveaux isn’t recalled before then.
The big forward already appears comfortable in the Johnstown locker room. He’s also approached his ECHL assignment with a positive mindset.
“It’s been a pretty smooth transition,” Deveaux said. “The guys here made it really easy for me. It’s a great group of guys. We took five out of a possible six points, which isn’t bad. We want six out of six next weekend.”