Apr 23, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur (30) makes a blocker save during the third period against the Montreal Canadiens at the Prudential Center. The Devils defeated the Canadiens 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Metropolitan Division Preview: New Jersey Devils

Mar 16, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils center Adam Henrique (14) skates with the puck during the first at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The New Jersey Devils had a disappointing finish last season in comparison to their Stanley Cup finals appearance in 2011-12; the Devils failed to make the playoffs in 2013 finishing dead last in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 19 W, 19 L and 10 OTL for a total of 48 points.

The Devils made an interesting move on draft day, bringing aboard former Vancouver Canuck Cory Schneider to play what is assumed the back-up role behind New Jersey legend Martin Brodeur.

Unfortunately, however, the Devils suffered a major loss on offense, as their superstar and second leading scorer Ilya Kovalchuk, is now a member of the KHL; interesting it shall be to see how New Jersey recovers from Kovalchuk’s sudden decision to retire from the NHL.

Key Returnees:

 

Adam Henrique – C – 23 years old
2013: 11 G 5 A 16 Pts -3

Henrique played in his first full NHL season in 2011-12 and earned a spot on the team recording 51 points over the course of 74 games.  The Devils are going to rely heavily upon Henrique to bolster the offense in the absence of Kovalchuk, and they hope he can continue his success.

Travis Zajac – C – 28 years old
2013: 7 Goals 13 Assists 20 Points -5

Zajac has been an offensive force for the Devils since coming into the league in the 2006-07 season.  He has the potential to score 30 goals, however he is more of a play-maker and paired with the right-winger could be a nightmare for opposing defenders.

Patrik Elias – LW – 37 years old
2013: 14 G 22 A 36 Pts +5

Elias is the most potent offensive player on the Devils, especially after Kovalchuk’s departure.  The veteran LW brings a scoring prowess and the locker room presence needed to help bolster success this coming season.

Martin Brodeur – G – 41 years old
2013: 13 W 9 L 5 OTL 2 Shootout Losses .901/2.22 GAA

Brodeur is and has always been the backbone of the Devils for many years.  He has led them to post-season success including winning three Stanley Cup Championships.  Brodeur is renowned as one of the best goaltenders of all-time and is a certain future Hall-of-Famer.

Key Departures:

 

Apr 27, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New Jersey Devils right wing Ilya Kovalchuk (17) looks to pass the puck against the New York Rangers during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Ilya Kovalchuk – RW – 30 years old – retired
2013: 11 G 20 A 31 Pts -6

Kovalchuk is, obviously, the Devils greatest loss in some time, if not all time.  He is one of the most skilled and offensively gifted players at his position,  and is an immediate threat the second his blades touch the ice.  Losing Kovalchuk means the Devils will have to reform their offensive strategy both on even-strength and with the man advantage.

David Clarkson – RW – 29 years old – signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs
2013: 15 G 9 A 24 Pts -6

Clarkson was always a gritty type of player whom was never relied on for maximum offensive production.  That was until his surprise season in 2011-12 when he notched 30 goals for the first time in his career, his previous best was 17 in 2008-09.  Clarkson posted 15 goals in 48 games last season and maintained his scoring prowess and ability to finish around the net.

Key Additions:

 

Jun 17, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins right wing Jaromir Jagr (68) skates with the puck against Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) during the third period in game three of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Jaromir Jagr – RW – 41 years old – signed as a free agent
2013: 16 G 19 A 35 Pts -2

Jagr returned to the Eastern Conference at the trade deadline last season when he was sent to the Boston Bruins from the Dallas Stars where he had signed in the off-season.

And Jagr’s productivity on the Stars translated rather well in Boston’s, especially during the post-season.  The 41-year old winger will be a key addition to the Devils despite his age, one whose role is filling the void left behind by Kovalchuk.

Cory Schneider – G – 27 years old – received through a trade with the Vancouver Canucks at this year’s draft
2013: 17 W 9 L 4 OTL .927/2.11 GAA

Most experts expected Schneider to be the starting goalie in Vancouver this season, as there seemed no end to the Roberto Luongo fiasco in sight. In possibly the most unexpected NHL trade in years, the Vancouver Canucks sent Cory Schneider to the Devils during the Draft for the ninth overall pick.

Schneider will most likely play the backup role to Brodeur, but will be the best backup in the NHL.  This situation will be interesting to watch unfold and see how similar, or dissimilar, the situation will be in Vancouver.

Michael Ryder – RW – 33 years old – signed as a free agent
2013: 16 Goals 19 Assists 35 Points +2

Ryder will be depended upon to help fill the gap left by Ilya Kovalchuk.  He brings a veteran presence as well as the potential to provide the offense that the Devils will surely need this season.  Ryder is a solid two-way player who will provide stability and the necessary edge when the situation calls for it.

Ryane Clowe – LW – 30 years old – signed as a free agent
2013: 3 Goals 16 Assists 19 Points +1

Clowe has the potential to post 50 points in a season but is more relied on for being a grinder type forward who plays a blue-collar kind of hockey that wears down defenders.  He is a tough physical force who does what it takes to win, he is a nightmare for opposing defenders and could shift the momentum of a game with one shift.  Look for Clowe to be a big time force for the Devils, maybe not in a scoring capacity but he is someone who does all of the little things, and he does them well.

Eyes On Isles Pre-Season Rating:

Offense - B-
Defense - C+
Goaltending - A+
Special Teams - B-
Division Difficulty - 5/5
Overall - B

 

Tags: Metropolitan Division New Jersey Devils New York Islanders NHL Offseason Preview

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