Devils Still Good But Not Quite A Contender

Despite the fact the New Jersey Devils have been regular playoff participants the last decade or so, it’s not automatic anymore to put the team among the top contenders for the Stanley Cup.

While they do have several key pieces, such as a strong defensive system, a good coach and a great goalie, some of their departures in recent years have taken a bit of the lustre away from a team that was a times dominant over the last 15 years.

Even Mr Midas touch himself Lou Lamoriello hasnt fared all that well the last while. He has had cap issues, struggled to keep some star players and made some poor signings. While he has adequately plugged some holes and still has a team with decent depth, he has not addressed a defence that lacks front end talent and that in the end could be what holds the Devils back.

One of his best moves of late however was bringing in Brent Sutter as coach. Sutter is a winner. As a player, in junior, he has had success. He brings the best out of his team and is a demanding, tough but talented coach. He is well respected because of his success and thus he gets results maybe some other younger coaches cant. Sutter has continued the Devils trend of air tight defence and didnt let a weak blueline interfere with that game plan. But the fact of the matter was the Devils were dreadful offensively and needed to play great defence to survive.

Lamoriello has made some moves to address scoring and if Sutter can get some improvement in that area, especially the PP, the Devils could be once again a top contender.


Everything still revolves around Brodeur. They have a deep front line but are still lacking on the blueline both offensively and defensively.

C: Brian Rolston, Travis Zajac, John Madden Bobby Holik, Mike Rupp
RW: Brian Gionta, Jamie Langenbrunner, David Clarkson, Rod Pelley,
LW: Patrik Elias, Zach Parise, Jay Pandolfo, Danius Zubrus

The addition of Rolston is a big coup as the former Devil returns to give them more punch up the middle and someone who could quarterback the PP. His presence on the point could really boost what is a dreadful PP. But he brings some many other intangibles and despite his age could be an impact player for Jersey. He should really help Elias rediscover his offensive touch. Elias struggled after losing his captaincy and playing out of position at centre most of last year. He should comfortably be back on the wing and may play with Rolston who is a sound playmaker.

Emerging as the new offensive stud was Parise who is rounding into a top end all around forward. He plays with desire but has loads of speed and skill and he is just about ready to take over as the team’s leader. The Devils could use more production from Zajac who struggled as a sophmore. He has lots of skill and with Rolston as the top centre, should settle in nicely as the number 2 guy. Langenbrunner the Captain, needs to stay healthy and if he can he adds an experienced character player with scoring ability to the lineup. Another thing that would help is having Gionta rediscover his scoring touch again. He faltered somewhat without Gomez and part of the reason for the team’s slumping PP.

Defensively there may be no better duo up front that Madden and Pandolfo. They even added more offence than usual last year. But primarily their role is to shut down top lines and they are pretty good at it. They will have some help with Holik, another former Devil, back in the fold. He’ll add some physicality and size up the middle. With him, Zubrus, Clarkson, Pelley, Rupp, they now have decent size and toughness up front which they have lacked in previous years. They shouldnt be pushovers anymore.

D: Paul Martin, Colin White, Johnny Oduya, Bryce Salvador, Mike Mottau, Andy Greene

The Devils did nothing to improve their defence and it is something they need to address. Martin and White are their top guys and while good, they are better as supporting cast players. When they went down with injury, there was a real shortage of talent back here. Martin with Oduya give them a couple of guys who can move the puck but they arent top end offensive defencemen. The team is hopeful Salmela whom they signed out of Finland can be a late blooming Rafalski type who can add instant offence from the defence. May take him a while to adapt to the North American game.

White is their toughest blueliner and brings plenty of character. He will be helped by Salvador in the physical department and he adds needed size. But these two wont make anyone forget about the likes of Stevens and Daneyko who were very intimidating. This missing element is one reason the Devils just havent been as tough to play against as in years past.

G: Martin Brodeur, Kevin Weekes

What more can be said about arguably one of the greatest goalies of all time? Brodeur is on his way to taking over the record books and seemingly has gotten better with age. He is still a top puckhandling goalie and a treat to watch. He is a hybrid of the old school standup style with the popular butterfly we see prevalent today. Many questioned how good he really was considering the defence in front of him. Those were laid to rest after these last couple of excellent seasons. Speaking of rest, he needs more of it. While he thrives on the workload, Sutter will need to turn to Weekes much more and allow Brodeur be fresh when it matters.


F: Barry Tallackson, Tony Romano, Ryan Murphy, Pierre Luc Letourneau-Leblond, Patrick Davis, Fedor Fedorov, Jon Disalvatore, Chad Wiseman
D: Mark Fraser, Sheldon Brookbank, Anssi Salmela, Sean Zimmerman, Jay Leach
G: Scott Clemmensen


While not the embarrassment of riches in years past, the Devils still have a decent crop of young players on the way.

F: Mattias Tedenby, Niclas Bergfors, Mike Hoeffel, Petr Vrana, Matt Halischuk, Alexander Vasyunov, Vili Sopanen,
D: Brandon Burlon, Matt Corrente, Tyler Eckford, Mark Fayne
G: Jeff Franzee

Bergfors has a great chance to make the team. There might be a spot among the top 9 forwards and he has the skills and defensive smart to fit into the Devils lineup. He has apprenticed a couple of years in the A and now really deserves a shot at the bigs. Corrente as well has a good chance to make the team. He isnt a high end skilled guy, but a character type player who is wiling to mix it up and can move the puck decently. with the derth of talent on D, he could easily emerge as a top 6 guy this year.

Here are some of the Devils other prospects:

Matthias Tedenby – blazing speed with high skill. just lacks size.
Brandon Burlon – Offenseman headed off to US College.
Matt Halischuk – Industrious checking forward with some skill
Mike Hoeffel – Long term project. Decent size and skill

Super scout David Conte hasnt been lights out the last few years but still is managing to find some hidden gems which has been his trademark.

Prediction: 7th in the East, 12th overall

No doubt that with Brodeur in goal and Sutter behind the bench the Devils are still good. They will still give some teams some trouble, but they are a top defenceman away from moving up to contender. The offence should be a bit better but a real improvement on the PP is a necessity. With the kind of depth they have up front, there is a good chance they could parlay that into a good blueliner who can increase the skill level on the backend and be a big minute muncher. Without that boost in talent, we can expect the Devils to continue their trend of a solid regular season and either a 1st or 2nd round playoff exit.

21 Responses to Devils Still Good But Not Quite A Contender

  1. pezzz says:

    Isn't Zach Parise a natural center? he can at least play center anytime, and is pretty good at it. And I think that while Rolston is good at playing center, he's more a winger, right winger especially. Zajac is a natural center, but he played the entire year (or almost) on the left wing last year. I'd be willing to try him again on the left. I think they should move Zubrus and a pick to the Canucks for Kevin Bieksa. they would still have a good lineup up front, and Bieksa would add that needed puck-mover on defence.

    Elias – Parise – Gionta
    Zajac – Rolston – Langenbrunner
    Pandolfo – Madden – Bergfors
    Rupp – Holik – Clarkson

    White – Martin
    Bieksa – Salvador
    Oduya – Mottau


    I think that with the tight system the Devils got, this is a cup contender.

  2. leafy says:

    Jersey's got some pretty good forwards, but most of them are small guys.  They do very well against teams that make mistakes, mainly because of their speed and skill, eg, Parise, Elias, Gionta, Madden, Langenbrunner, etc.

    But as soon as they play teams that check well, they can't create scoring chances because they lack the necessary size.  Case in point, the series against the Rangers.

    The days when they had monster forwards and D are long gone.  They'll be solid in the regular season thanks to their skill and Brodeur, but will probably take a quick exit in Round 1.

  3. leafy says:

    Although Rolston provides some much needed size.  I forgot about him.

  4. pezzz says:

    oh yeah, I think they'll finisth 1rst in the East too.

  5. rx79msg says:

    1st in the east your are insane lol. they would be lucky to make the playoffs.

  6. rx79msg says:

    1st in the east your are insane lol. they would be lucky to make the playoffs.

  7. mojo19 says:

    For sure. And I bet they make a couple minor swaps and pick up a tier-2 puck moving d-man at some point this season, maybe a guy like Bieksa

  8. mojo19 says:

    I think the Devils have a good team again. They finished 5th last season and I like the addition of Brian Rolston, he was needed. I think they're an improved team. Holik's not bad either, still has some game left.

    Elias – Rolston – Parise
    Gionta – Zajac – Zubrus
    Pandolfo – Madden – Langenbrunner
    Clarkson – Holik – Rupp

    Pretty good group of forwards.

  9. pezzz says:

    yeah it's very solid. I wouldn't be suprised if they finished 1rst in the East.

  10. DandoEagle says:

    Each season this is supposed to be the season the Devils fall out of the playoff picture, this season isn't the season – Brodeur will win 40-45 games and play 95% of the games – typical New Jersey season.

  11. rx79msg says:

    LOL you musta been dropped on your head ALOT as a child. Devls had their time that time is over now.

  12. chris1628 says:

    Post lock-out only the Rangers, Devils, and Senators have made the post season each year. I expect to see all three teams there once again.. 

  13. mojo19 says:

    Somebody has been saying that every year for the past 3 or 4 years, and yet every year Jersey either wins their division or places 2nd.

  14. KevinBaconFan says:
    Unfortunately James Emile Francis Ward has played his last game in the NHL.  Ward, 26, with the IQ of a southern Swedish Billy Goat, was found to be in violation of the NHL equipment standards rule.  Rule 14B.34 states that "all players on the ice must have skates with laces."  Sadly, Ward was never able to master the "loop, swoop, and pull" technique, thus rendering him useless at all tying events.  In 2002 Ward filed an injunction with the Alabama State Senate to allow him to use altered equipment due to "emotional or physical injury."  Ward referenced the case of Plessy v. Dan Blackburn, in which it was ruled that alternate pads are indeed separate and equal.  This precedent paved the way for Ward to continue his career using buckle skates.  This all changed on September 14, 2008.  The Frankenbeen State Comptroller ruled that "the introduction of buckles into a hockey rink is like using sandpaper in baseball."  The epic decision in this case, known as  Roe V. Ward, stated that Ward must abort his skates.  "I am disappointed.  I guess I am a modern day Craig MacTavish.  Only I wear a helmet on and off the ice and have buckle skates.  I guess last of the Mohicans is a better reference." 
  15. turdfergusson says:

       The Devils have never been picked to win the Cup outright, they just come in and steal it. They have found a ways to prove many wrong year after year. As long as Martin Brodeur and the Devils are in the playoffs i'm gonna give them a shot for sure ( this year included ) and I hate myself for it.

  16. paulieplatypus says:

    First off, I have a friend named Shirley who is bigger and stronger than any Devil on this years roster!  Even Brodure will not be able to help this team make the playoffs anymore.  But if ever without Brodure, this is the worst team in the NHL.  Ohhh how the once mighty have fallen, even the great GM Lou Lamorillo, whome everyone expected much much more out of since the lockout ended, has done as bad a job as the worst of GM's!  But at least your team plays in a nice building in downtown Newark, so ya got that going for you.

  17. rx79msg says:

    LOl thank you. Nice to finally have someone agree with me.

  18. paulieplatypus says:

    Well, I suppose looking at other teams around the league…  There are lots of teams much worse than the Devils.  Brodure is still Brodure and Lou is still Lou Lamorillo, inspite of being in a slump since the lockout.  I do really like what Louie did on draft day though, and I have a feeling-not sure why???  That their #1 pick (the one that Lou kept trading back for – aquiring all sorts of high picks in a very deep draft) will be buzzing around at some point this year with all the other small smirfs like creatures on their top lines?  Oh my will many many teams fill their highlight film reals with devistating crunching hits on Devils this year…  But the Dev's are a much better hockey team than most others in the east, inspite of my friend Shirley being able to slap anyone on the current roster silly.   

  19. nordiques100 says:

    actually the devils arent that small:

    holik 6'4 230
    clarkson 6'1 205
    zubrus 6'5 225
    rupp 6'5 230
    pelley 6'1 203
    salvador 6'2 222
    white 6'4 215

    there's enough there to prevent them from being pushovers.

  20. nj814 says:

    hahahaha ok rfanger fan. so tell mehow the devils got sooooo much worse by adding a tall 30 goal scorer and holik for a little toughness and someone to go to the net and both of whom add to their mediocre at best powerplay. they lost virtually noone of importance. brylin was dead weight. what is brodeur gunna all the sudden suck like ranger fans like yourself say every year. or will he be yet another contnder for the vezina. im sorry i forgot according to all you ranger fans king henrik has all the sudden become the =best goalie and the rangers D got much better by adding redden. HA! ask any senators fan how much they liked redden.and khalinin is no great shakes either. also, tell me how the rangers got soo much better by losing their most talented and highest scorer in jagr, and lost straka, shannahan and avery and replaced them with a highly talented winger who ill give you has shown brief flashes of his potential but whom his teammates all despised and the opver the hill naslund. i dont understand that.  sather will go back to his old ways of gettin players with skill but no desire or heart for the game, just money. Zherdev=new jagr. have fun with that

  21. paulieplatypus says:

    Actually they are that small I must contend… None of the players you listed will play (or should play!) on the first three lines except for maybe??? Holik?  Zubrus will play on the top three lines, but would never play a physical game of any sort when not in the final year of a contract.  As for fighting inorder to stick up for a teammate, the weekest of certified goons would have no problem making a mockery of anyone on this list toughness!

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