New Jersey Devils:
Last season – 12th in the Eastern Conference
The Devils looks like a team who should put their focus about 3-4 years down the line. They were abysmal offensively last season, but did good defensively given where they landed. But, now they have traded away Adam Larsson, and adding Taylor Hall alone offensively won’t fix their problems.
They do however have a few more defensive prospects and with a few other additions, look for them to score more goals, and be worse defensively this season.
GM – Ray Shero
Shero in his second season as the GM of the Devils, has a rough task with how to improve the roster. He’s started the job by improving little by little. The addition of Hall offensively vs. losing Larsson defensive should be substantial for a team that have been among the lowest scoring teams in each season of the last five years.
The problem for Shero, is that of the assets in his team, that he potentially could trade for picks or prospects at or before the trade deadline, don’t really have a lot of value.
Head Coach – John Hynes
John Hynes who is the youngest coach in the league, did okay with the group he had last season. Yes, they finished 12th in the conference, but as a team scoring at a rate which put them at 27th in the league, that’s not terrible, and it’s not like it wasn’t expected.
The added youth and the addition of Hall makes this Devils team better, but it’s still a work in progress for some time going forward. The good thing for Hynes, is that Shero will be patient with him and let him put his mark on this roster for the next years to come, unless they have a truly terrible year, and even then Hynes will most likely get the benefit of the doubt.
Taylor Hall (LW), Beau Bennett (RW), Vernon Fiddler (LW), Ben Lovejoy (D), Kyle Quincey (D), P.A. Parenteau (RW), Marc Savard (C – contract),
12th overall pick (Michael McLeod, F), 2nd round pick 2018, 3rd round pick 2016 (Brandon Gignac, F)
Adam Larsson (D), David Schlemko (D), Jordin Tootoo (RW), Ryan Clowe (LW – retired), Joe Whitney (RW),
11th overall pick (Logan Brown, F), Graham Black (C), Paul Thompson (RW), 3rd round pick 2016 (Connor Hall, D)
The second biggest trade off the season was acquiring Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson. That’s a great move for the Devils, which lacked a true scoring winger. Outside that, re-signing Palmieri, Josefson, Merrill and Smith-Pelly, plus adding depth in Bennett, Fiddler, Lovejoy and Quincey, while picking Parenteau up from waivers are the organizations offseason moves. Looking at who they have lost compared to what they have received back, the Devils look stronger on paper, but not by much.
Goaltending – 7/10
Cory Schneider is among the best there is in the league. We will see him play a lot of games, but Kinkaid will also get his chances. It’s a good thing to have a clear cut number one, but the focus from Hynes should be to let Kinkaid play plenty of games as well.
Defense – 5/10
Nothing spectacular on paper, and captain Greene will have his work cut out for him. There is some solid experience in this group, and they do have a couple of good young defensemen in Santini and Severson, which possibly could make the loss of Larsson less important. But, most of the veterans were mediocre on better teams, and won’t suddenly become stars on this team.
Greene – Santini
J. Moore – Lovejoy
Quincey – Severson
Merrill – Gormley
Forwards – 5/10
The forward group is just not that great. Even with Taylor Hall in the lineup, there is nothing that screams playoffs team of this group. The best thing Shero can hope for is that some of them gain some decent numbers so he could trade them for picks and/or prospects at the deadline. Which might be the reason he acquired Parenteau.
Hall – Henrique – Parenteau
Cammalleri – Zajac – Palmieri
Boucher – Zacha – Bennett
Kalinin – Fiddler – Smith-Pelly
Team Composition – 3/10
They have plenty of experience in the roster, they got some talent, but the overall feeling is that they don’t have enough high end skill, and they don’t have enough solid defensive forwards, to either be a solid threat offensively or shut down teams defensively. The defense has one solid veteran, plenty of mediocre ones and a couple of nice young guys. Overall, just not a good combination at the moment.
Leadership presence – 8/10
There are enough leaders in this team. Maybe the skill isn’t that great anymore on some of these guys, but when going through the rough patches this season (as they will), they got plenty of guys that will be solid locker room guys to make this team not entirely lose confidence. It will be a fairly competitive team every night.
Skill Value – 5/10
Not all that. Except Hall, you have Zacha and a couple of good young defensemen with some upside. They have some forwards who can lean on their experience, but this isn’t a very exciting team, and I’m surprised if they somehow transform into one this season.