2011-2012 Preview: The New Jersey Devils

Posted: September 17, 2011 by cujorulesdtown9 in New Jersey Devils, Season Preview
Tags: , , , , ,

Review of 2010-2011: (38-39-5, 81 points, 11th In Eastern Conference, Missed Playoffs)

Additions Via Free Agency: Cam Janssen, Eric Boulton

Additions Via Trade: Maxim Noreau

Subtractions: Anssi Salmela, Adam Mair, Mike McKenna, Colin White, David McIntyre, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, Brian Rolston

Offense: “Things could be worse”. You sign Ilya Kovalchuk to a huge contract, get hit by the NHL for cap circumvention and lost a 1st round draft pick, then proceed to miss the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. Well the better phrase for this year “It can’t get any worse”. The Devils will look to retool their offense, getting rid of dead weight and get off to a better start than last season. However, the first obstacle came already, center Travis Zajac will be out of the lineup until November after tearing his achillies tendon. This puts a huge hole at center, their next best centerman, Jacob Josefson, tallied 10 points last year.The Devils will need to hope that he, Dave Steckel, or Adam Henrique step up their game tremendously, or there is a youngster in camp who impresses enough to fill Zajac’s role until he is healthy. Ilya Kovalchuk has to be better, he has to be able to score without long droughts like last year. The powerplay, let me rephrase that, the league’s 28th best powerplay, needs to improve a lot in order for this team to start winning.

Defense: The big question of the defense this year is Adam Larsson.  The 4th overall pick that The Devils won in the draft lottery. He is rumored to be a workhorse, able to play big minutes, and to have little to no weaknesses in his abilities.  If true, he will be a huge piece to New Jersey’s defensive future. It will be interesting to see how he does this year. The Devils defense is still full of those guys who can hit, shot block, and on occasion, score.  They need to score a bit more often, especially on the powerplay, as mentioned earlier. When you only have one defenseman, Andy Greene, breaking the 20 point mark, you know you need a bit more offensive help from your defense.

Martin Brodeur (Photo:AP)

Goaltender: “Is this the year?” Devils fans have to be asking themselves that.  Is this Martin Brodeur’s final year in the NHL? With his playing time diminishing, many are speculating that this is it. But even if it is, you can bet he is going to give everything he has this season to try to make a push for The Stanley Cup one more time. Brodeur, like the entire Devils team, had a rough go last year, going 23-26-3. Backup netminder Johan Hedberg will probably look at a bigger workload this year, and he’s proven himself a decent option in net. And with The Devils new defensive weapon in Larsson, it could prove great for both goaltenders, taking some of the burden off of their shoulders. One final note on goaltending to New Jersey fans, if this is indeed Brodeur’s last season inbetween New Jersey’s pipes, just remember to enjoy every single game he plays this year.

Prediction: (4th In Atlantic Division, 10th In Eastern Conference)

With the injury to Zajac, and all the question marks around the defense, and the new coach, it is really hard to say for sure there will be much improvement.A better record overall is entirely possible, but as for playoffs, just too hard to say they will make it. Not saying they couldn’t go on a tear and make the playoffs as an 8th seed, but this team has too many questions to answer before it can be said they are a playoff lock.

Zach Parise (Photo: NHL.Com)

Standout Player: Zach Parise

After a campaign that was cut to 13 games last year, Parise will rebound for New Jersey, making an instant impact, and getting back into the 80-90 point range.

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