September 3, 2013 by Cups n Pucks
Cups & Pucks Contributor
The New Jersey Devils had a very busy off-season. The team will have plenty of new faces in new places, especially at forward and in goal. For Cups & Pucks NHL Season Countdown the New Jersey Devils landed at #28.
The Devils off-season has been hectic. It all started at the draft when GM Lou Lamoriello traded his number 9 pick for goaltender Cory Schneider and then resigned long time Devils forward Patrik Elias to a three year contract. The Devils then lost David Clarkson during free agency to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Lamoriello replaced Clarkson with Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder and Rostislav Olesz. On July 6th all was good in New Jersey, then the unthinkable happened. Ilya Kovalchuk announced his retirement from the NHL to go play in the KHL to be closer to his family in Russia; he left 12 years and $77 million on the table. Lamoriello stayed busy and looked for a replacement and in late July he signed veteran forward Jaromir Jagr to a one year deal. The off-season certainly was a hectic one for the Devils and by far the most hectic in the league.
While the Devils have had a lot of turnover the past couple of years, they do have some talent up front. Jagr will add some scoring to the line up but he can’t be counted on as much as the Devils counted on Ilya Kovalchuk. Clowe will add some toughness to the lineup and can contribute on offense as well. Ryder will be someone who will have to step up big time if the Devils want to do something this season. He’s capable of scoring 60+ points a season and he will have to step it up even more this time around. The returning Devils are also capable and very talented. Adam Henrique will need to add to his rookie season after a disappointing one last year. Elias, Zajac, Carter and Gionta will all need to have above average seasons as well.
The defensemen on this team may be one of the more underrated units in the NHL. Andy Greene and Adam Larsson will be the top pair with Greene a plus 12 and Larsson a plus 4. Both are balanced defensemen and can play big minutes. Bryce Salvador and Marek Zidlicky are two older defensemen who will need to shore up their play in the defensive zone (Both where a minus 12 last year).
It’s not often you will see a future hall of fame goaltender sit on the bench, but you may see that this upcoming season. The Devils acquired Cory Schneider to be their go-to goaltender in the future. He is more than capable of doing so and has plenty of playoff experience. He can give Brodeur a rest when he needs one. The Devils will probably ride the hot hand next season.
The Devils are certainly a team that can sneak up on a lot of people. If the pieces fall exactly the right way and some players play above average this year could be a very good building year. They have a limited prospect pool, especially after they traded away their first round pick last year. I can see this team making a playoff push in the next few years, as well with the team they have now. Like Andy said yesterday to the Panther fans, just stay patient and things will get better Devils fans.