The New Jersey Devils
Kiss her where it smells, take her to New Jersey!
|Brodeur can't see you.|
Previous Year's Results
48 wins, 27 losses, 7 OTL, 103 points, 6th overall in the league
The New Jersey Devils are one of the elite teams in all of professional sports. The Devils are a team that have boasted post season success for over two decades and one of the finest management groups in hockey. Led by the best General Manager in the NHL Uncle Lou Lamoriello since 1987 the Devils have set the standard for scouting, development, and intelligent hockey moves. However it's not going to be long before this team will be forced to contend with personnel turnover on both the ice and in the front office. The question for the Devils will be how deep will they make it in the post-season and how many more runs does this team have left in it's current form?
The Devils have one of the best and most balanced forwards group in the league. GM Lou Lamoriello achieved an absolute coup this off-season re-signing deadly Russian sniper Ilya Kovalchuk to a 100 million dollar life time contract. Kovalchuk has been an elite goal scorer since entering the league a decade ago and for the first time will be competing on a competent powerhouse team. Kovalchuk will be moving to right wing this season to compliment another elite player in Zach Parise. The American left winger has blossomed into a top point per game left wing and is still young enough to continue to improve. Travis Zajac has been one of the main picks to have a breakout season this year. Zajac will be the pivot in between the two elite wingers and offers a solid two-way and passing game in the offensive zone.
The Devils have one of the best second lines in the league featuring three premiere but aging veterans. Anchoring the second line has been one of the most talented offensive players over the last decade in Patrik Elias who's been close to a point per game player through his career. Elias is beginning to slow from age and injuries but will still be an effective complimentary scorer and will likely be a 20/30 player. Jason Arnott was traded from the Nashville Predatotrs this off-season to center the Devils' second line. Arnott is a retread in New Jersey and is a talented big bodied center who excels in the offensive zone. If Arnott can remain healthy he stands a good chance of having one of the best seasons of his career. Playing right wing will be Jamie Langenbrunner who's one of the finest two-way players in the game. Langenbrunner is the Captain of the Devils and has the reputation of being one of the most clutch players. Langenbrunner has found a scoring touch late in his career and has become a consistent 60+ point threat.
At the time of this writing the Devils are severely over the cap with the Kovalchuk signing. The Devils have two players that have a lot of speculation surrounding them as candidates likely to move before the season opens. Brian Rolston has been one of the most consistent second tier scoring forwards in the league boasting one of the most impressive slapshots. Rolston has been slowing considering in recent years and has in large part been pushed out of the picture in New Jersey. Rolston also has a boat anchor of a contract with a cap hit of five million a season. Dainius Zubrus is a big three zone player who's been a tool box player in New Jersey that can play any role necessary. However Zubrus is another player who's largely become redundant in the Devils lineup and has a weighty contract. These two players seem to be the most likely to be waived or traded as cap casualties.
David Clarkson has blossomed into the type of player teams covet. Clarkson is a big mean power forward who's developed something of a scoring touch and exhibits a ham and eggs work ethic that sees him improve each season. Clarkson will never be a first tier offensive guy but he's developed into a player that could pop 20 goals a season while protecting your line-up. Clarkson faced a frustrating series of injuries last season but remains a strong candidate to have a career year bouncing between the third and second line. Likely rounding out the forwards core will be training camp invitee Adam Mair who's earned praise from the Devils coaching staff for his work this pre-season. Mair is a gritty center known for his defensive play and will likely get a contract with the Devils soon. 19-year old rookie and former 20th overall pick Jacob Josefson has been impressive this season and has received praise from the Devils' faithful. Josefson can play all three positions and looks to be another Devils steal. With the cap situation Josefson is a likely candidate to get significant ice time in New Jersey.
Competing for ice time this season will be Rod Pelley who's become a work horse grinder for the Devils. Pelley doesn't offer much in the offensive zone but is an adequate depth defensive center. Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond not only has the greatest hockey name of all time but will also likely make the Devils as their enforcer. Leblond is a capable pugilist who also has an adequate defensive game for his role. Vladimir Zharkov has found himself as an decent defensive forward in the National Hockey League playing in 40 games for the Devils last season without registering a goal. Zharkov was surprisingly sent to AHL recently but will likely re-emerge for the Devils at some point this year.
The Devils had a fantastic off-season not only signing a superstar in Kovlachuk but also signing two of the best defensemen on the market. The Devils acquired Henrik Tallinder from conference rivals Buffalo Sabres. Tallinder is a talented minute eating defenseman in the smooth Swedish three zone mold. Tallinder will be an excellent addition to an overworked defensive group and will aid both special teams. Tallinder has been plagued with injuries through his career but managed his second complete NHL campaign last year. The Devils also signed blue line bruiser Anton Volchenkov who's developed into one of the best shutdown defensemen in the game. Volchenkov is a very aggressive defensive defenseman who's one of the premiere shot blockers and hitters in the league. Although Volchenkov faces injuries concerns due to the physical and reckless nature of his game.
Seemingly out of nowhere former depth defenseman Andy Greene exploded into a first tier offensive defenseman and emerged as the Devils number one last season. In one of the stranger rags to riches performances in my memory Greene put in a consistently excellent effort every night on the Devils' blueline while netting top numbers. Greene wore down as the season went along and likely won't be relied upon as heavily this season but there's no reason not to think he won't be the Devils' top point producer on the back end. Colin White a lifetime Devil has become one of the key leaders for this team and has developed into a gritty defensive defenseman on New Jersey's blue line. White will likely bounce between the second and third pairing for the Devils while be one of their most consistent blueliners.
Bryce Salvador is another gritty defensive defenseman who's found a home in Uncle Lou's system. Salvador seems a likely candidate to be moved in the Devils' cap crunch despite managements proclaims that they wish to keep him. Salvador "mysteriously" came down with an undisclosed injury in training camp and is currently undergoing "testing." We all hope and pray for a speedy recovery. Behind Salvador on the depth chart is a plethora of different defensemen. Mark Fraser is a big stay at home defenseman who displays a solid game for a depth defender. Rob Davison has made a career of being a gritty stay at home seventh defenseman who's willing to protect his teammates. 19-year old Alexander Urbom has been a surprise as a big gritty defensive defenseman in training camp. Urbom stands an outside chance of making the team although will likely see himself back in the WHL this year. Depth offensive defenseman Anssi Salmela will also be in the mix bouncing between the AHL and NHL for the Devils.
The Devils have been pleased for over fifteen years to have the best goaltender in the history of the game Martin Brodeur tending their nets. Brodeur put up Vezina caliber numbers through the first half of last season before crumbling a week before the Olympic break. The 38-year old Brodeur regained form towards the end of the season but still showed that he was worn down after playing 77 games for the Devils last year. This led to the Devils signing arguably the best 1B goaltender in hockey Johan Hedberg who absolutely shined last season in Atlanta. The 37-year old Hedberg will likely get 15-20 or so games spelling Brodeur in relief and will be a strong replacement if Brodeur get injured.
The Devils are in full blown win now mode with their off-season moves and the way they've structured their team. It seems likely that GM Lou Lamoriello senses that after over two decade of being the best general manager in hockey that his time could soon be through. The Devils will look to go all the way this season and are a Cup favorite right now. Look for them to come in somewhere between first through fifth in the league.
BVB's Projected Lineup
Zach Parise -41 G/50 A 91 P
Travis Zajac - 27 G/60 A 87 P
Ilya Kovalchuk 50 G/55 A 95 P
Patrick Elias - 17 G/27 A 44 P
Jason Arnott - 19 G/31 A 50 P
Jamie Langenbrunner - 22 G/29 A 51 P
Brian Rolston - 15 G/20 A 35 P
Jacob Josefson - 11 G/21 A 32 P
David Clarkson - 19 G/17 A 36 P
Adam Mair - 5 G/9 A 14 P
Rod Pelley - 3 G/10 A 13 P
Vladimir Zharkov - 1 G/8 A 9 P
Andy Greene - 6 G/34 A 40 P
Henrik Tallinder - 4 G/17 A 21 P
Anton Volchenkov - 3 G/18 A 21 P
Colin White - 1 G/8 A 9 P
Bryce Salvador - 3 G/10 A 13 P
Mark Fraser - 2 G/6 A 8 P
Rob Davison - 0 G/4 A
Martin Brodeur - 38-23-7 | 2.29 GAA | .919 Sv%
Johan Hedberg - 9-3-2 | 2.47 GAA | .915 Sv%