Devils Go Back to 1995

The Devils got a new face lift these past months, and what could be more exciting to talk about a dominant team? As the previous Rangers article was done by a Devils fan, I would like to do the same.

Let’s start with the depth up front.

Elias-Nieuwendyk-Brylin

Friesen-*Gomez*-Langenbrunner

Berglund-Madden-Gionta

Pandolfo-______-Stevenson

No, those are not the lines that you will see, well maybe, but I just listed the original forwards. Gomez and the Devils are far appart from signing a new contract, so you could take Gomez out of that list. Madden is the 2nd line center? Berglund? Or, who else? From Holik to who?

The Devils are deeply poor at center are would be forced to have a winger like Brylin or Friesen move down and play the 2nd line center position, which means that the 1st line is weaker.

Having 36 year old Jow Nieuwendyk as your first line center isn’t that bad, but definitely not great. Nieuwendyk is an injury prone player as well, and if he faces an injury, the Devils will have little to work with.

Elias is one of the best Lw’ers of the game. But, how will he do without his old line-mates? He dropped by 35 points and 11 goals this past season. If he can’t produce as many goals, then the Devils are nothing more than a defensive team. Jeff Friesen is expect to regain his 25 goal game, but can he after two seasons of no show in Anaheim? I think he should explode this season with 30 goals, but that’s just my thinking. Realistically, can he score 25 goals again?

Langenbrunner is a solid player, but he never scored more than 25 goals, and has only reached the 50 point mark once in his career. Langenbrunner scored 4 points in his first 4 games with the Devils, but scored none in the next 10 games.

Christian Berglund will be popular if he stays as a full time Devil. He is physical, sneaky, annoying, and could always score. He stands 6’3 and weighs 190 lbs. I think he is their future “Holik-type” player. Maybe he can reach his full potential this season and be the 2nd line player. He is a top prospect on my list, and probably will be a fan favorite.

Brylin only reached the 20 goal mark once in his career and has yet to play a full season. The Devils can’t expect much scoring from Sergei, but the best he could do is net 20 pucks.

The rest of the players are 3rd liners at best. The Devils have no offensive punch that can blow a team away. Look for the Devils to perform as they did back in 95, which won them a Cup, but they had a younger team of future stars.

The defense is not even superb, because superb is not even strong word for this defense. Does anyone know a better and stronger word than superb? It is a perfect defense. Three skaters, and three stay at homes. Perfect set. However, Scott stevens is getting older, slower, and is getting $7 million a season. He is the most overpaid stay at home defenseman of this season, but who cares. He is the captain. Is he worth $7 million? No, but in a way he is for the Devils. Stevens is not performing as well in the playoffs the way he used to. Now, young players like Cole are getting by him and shutting him down. It’s time to give less ice time to Stevens.

Brodeur plays many games, but doesn’t face many shots, especially this upcoming season. With a brick wall infront of him, all he has to do is patrol the area where pucks that are heading close to the net. Brodeur would be second to Roy on my fantasy goalie rankings since he should win at least 30 games, and will play 70 games with not many goals against.

The coaching staff is still incomplete and Lamoriello has already chosen Larry Robinson as his assistant coach, but Larry has different plans right now. Burns is known for his defensive strategies, therefore the 2002-2003 Devils will be very similar to the 1994-1995 Devils. Very boring to watch. Defense does win games, but with no offense, the games could easily be lost. The Devils were competing against a Lemieux-less Penguins team, the “what is offense?” Lightning, and the “we’ll fight it for Koivu” Canadiens in the first half of the season. The offense was scoring as many goals as the no offense Nashville Predators, and finished 20th overall in GF.

They are not the team to fear anymore in the Division, in the Conference, and in the NHL. They lack a lot of depth up front and the scoring power is weak. This team will rely on their defensive system, their defensemen, and Brodeur for the wins.