New Jersey Devils 2005-2006

TEAM NAME: New Jersey Devils

TEAM PAYROLL: Currently over the cap.

GENERAL MANAGER: Lou Lamoriello, President since 1987.

HEAD COACH: Larry Robinson, Head Coach 2000-02, 2005-current. Stanley Cup win in 2000 and Finals appearance in 2001.

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FORGOTTEN MOVES: Devils signed LW Darren Langdon, D Richard Matvichuk, LW Krysztof Oliwa, and C Pascal Rheaume. They also signed LW Dean McAmmond to an AHL contract. All four players are on the Devils training-camp roster. Langdon and Oliwa add size the Devils desperately lacked against Philadelphia in the ’04 playoffs. Rheaume played extremely well his last time around with the team, especially in G7 of the ’03 ECF v Ottawa. The Richard Matvichuk signing is forgotten due to the signings of McGillis and Malakhov, but he is solid and will not be a liability on the blue line. Dean McAmmond led Albany in scoring this past season, followed by Zach Parise and the aforementioned Rheaume.

TEAM MODE: They are not rebuilding, although they might be looking for a new identity. Even though they lost Scott Neidermeyer and Scott Stevens, they are still contenders. The Devils have been about TEAM for years and despite the huge loss, they will recover and make the playoffs.

TO TAKE CHARGE!: With Patrik Elias sidelined for the beginning of the season and the fact Martin Brodeur cannot wear the “C,” expect JOHN MADDEN to step up and take charge. Even without the “A” or “C” he has always been one to open his mouth. Watch G7 of the 2003 ECF and you’ll see Madden tell Zdeno Chara “Scoreboard” as his eyes look at it. Even if Madden starts with the “C” and loses it to Elias upon his return, that won’t turn Madden into any less of a leader.

ON THE RUSH (OFFENSE):

The Devils have invited 36 forwards to camp. 36! Come opening day, the usual suspects will all be there, Gomez, Gionta, Madden, etc., with Elias returning after 10 games, but most likely in November. Returnees Rheaume and Mogilny will be there as well. The Devils were right in the middle of the pack (14th) in scoring in 03-04 and their PP was 16.3% (15th). At even strength, the Devils forwards will compete with every team in terms of speed and scoring. According to the Devils website, only 7 of 22 (5F 2D) players are under 200 lbs. It also helps that Larry Robinson will give more freedom to his forwards. He did that in 2000-01 where the Devils led the league in both PP% and GF (295). The Devils signed bruisers in 2004 to add size. Their 4th line will be large, with Oliwa(6’5” 245), Langdon(6’1” 205), and Erik Rasmussen(6’3” 210) rotating in and out of the lineup. The Devils 2 PP units (forwards) will be comprised of Elias Gomez Mogilny and Gionta at the least. Expect Zach Parise to be the 2nd center. The PK threat consists of Madden (1-SHG) and Jay Pandolfo (2) (partners). Elias spent some time on the PK, actually led the team in SHG with 3 and Langenbrunner (2) will likely be their as well.

COVERING THE D-ZONE: Neidermeyer gone. Stevens gone. What do the Devils do? Replace them and add 1. The Devils signed Matvichuk in 2004 and signed Brian Rafalski, Malakhov, and McGillis in August. They invited 20 d-men to camp. The defensive corps will be extremely mature, NO rookies. They have 4 puck-moving defensemen, Rafalski, Malakhov, McGillis and Paul Martin to be partnered with the stay-at-homes Matvichuk, David Hale, Colin White, and Sean Brown. In 03-04, the Devils were 6th in PK with 85.3% and were the least penalized team with only 894 PIMs. Despite being 6th in PK%, they gave up the least amount of PP goals (39). White led the team with only 96 PIMs. The Devils will be just as disciplined under Larry Robinson as they were under Pat Burns. However, the penalty parade will exist in early Devils games this year. The Devils have 8 NHL caliber defensemen. The odd-men out are likely Brown and Hale. However, Robinson works very well with the younger players (Hale and Martin) and his guidance could be greatly beneficial to their development. The Devils are never one to rush their younger players and put them in situations they shouldn’t be in.

GUARDING THE NET:

Martin Brodeur. He may not like the new puck-handling rule, but he can get it behind the net and that will stop plenty of dump-ins. The pad sizes changed, so what, he never wore outrageously large pads. Scott Clemmensen and Ari Ahonen are his likely backups. Larry Robinson has said this will “be his last decision” at training camp.

TALKING ABOUT MY GENERATION!:

The Devils trade up to draft him in 2003. He leads the USA to the 2004 WJC taking the MVP award as well. He also scored the GWG at the AHL All-Star Game. Zach Parise is a Devils-Devil. He is a tenacious forward who hustles all over the ice. Despite his small frame, he isn’t afraid to charge the net or go into the corners. Larry Robinson, in fact, WANTS TO SLOW HIM DOWN. Well, not really. He just wants Zach to preserve his energy. At the “Red and White Scrimmage,” Parise got the loudest reception behind only Brodeur.

Aleksander Suglobov was born in a Elektrostal, Russia. At 6’0” 200lb, he flies up and down the ice. He played one game for the Big Club in 2003-04, he kept up with the speedy Oilers during his few shifts and also registered 2 SOG. However, with the River Rats, he was 4th in scoring 25G 21A 46P -15. I’ve said it before: Larry Robinson is great with the younger players. He will likely start the year down in Albany, but should he be called up, expect Robinson to give him the confidence that perhaps Pat Burns didn’t do.

In the system:

Petr Vrana: one of the first European captains of a Jr. team. Captained the Czech Republic WJC team to the Bronze medal.

Travis Zajac: 39pts in 45g as a freshman at UND.

Niklas Bergfors: another great Devils draft pick. Will be playing for St. Johns Fog Devils in the QMJHL.

PROJECTED LINES:

Line 1: Elias-Gomez-Mogilny

Brian Gionta is a likely replacement for Elias in the beginning. However, since Russian’s typically work well together, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sergei Brylin there.

Line 2: Gionta-Parise-Friesen

This line isn’t exceptionally big, but they are fast.

Line 3: Pandolfo-Madden-Langenbrunner

I don’t think Devils fans could ask for a better checking line.

Leftovers for 4th line: Kozlov, Rheaume, Oliwa, Langdon, Rasmussen, et. al.

D pair 1: Rafalski-Malakhov

D pair 2: Martin-McGillis

D pair 3: Matvichuk-White

David Hale and Sean Brown are the only ones left out.

EXPECTATIONS: The expectations for the Devils have changed only if you’re not a fan or member of the organization. Regardless of off-season moves, Lou Lamoriello creates a team to COMPETE with every other team in the NHL. The Atlantic Division is going to be tough, which means no one is going to run away with it. The Devils will finish 2nd in the division which puts them 4-6 in the Easter Conference.

PROJECTED: I don’t care WHAT the Flyers, Penguins, Islanders, and Rangers have done. The Devils made trades for Grant Marshall and Pascal Rheaume in 2003 and won the Stanley Cup 3 months later. Were they the best players traded that year? No. Lou Lamoriello doesn’t go for the “best player” but the “best fit.” The Devils have plenty of depth at EVERY position to withstand an injury or two. The Devils will be fighting for the top spot in the Atlantic Division.

Note: The Devils are expected to make a trade before the season starts. The projected lines and D-pairs are just that: “projected.” According to a recent NY Post article, likely candidates include Friesen, Kozlov, Brylin, and Langenbrunner. About a week ago, Eklund was reporting that San Jose wanted Friesen back. Personally, as much as I’d like none of them to leave, I’d rather keep Brylin and Langenbrunner.


16 Responses to New Jersey Devils 2005-2006

  1. raine_kalisz says:

    I think Kozlov should be on the second line at least. He’s a physical force, he can skate, not to mention he has decent hands. He’s a good power forward and if the Devils are smart they will use him as such. Malakhov won’t be top 2 and Matvichuk is better than a 5th D-man. Martin is a PP specialist and beyond that is a 5th or 6th d-man.

  2. sethnjdfan says:

    Gionta is the size of a Wizard of Oz munchkin and he is more physical then Kozlov. He might be 6,5′ and 230LBS but he is not physical at all. He is a finesse player. I do like his size in front of the next for rebounds but he does not use his size. Gionta plays 6’5″ hockey.

  3. JScottLeRoi says:

    With Friesen gone now, Kozlov should slide up, assuming he doesn’t get traded. I think he should edge out Pandolfo anyway. He’s probably the 7th forward on the team now. I’d only put Gomez, Elias, Mogilny, Gionta, Madden and maybe Langenbrunner ahead of him.

  4. jenidevilgirl says:

    When Patty gets better, the “E-G-G” line is the best, Elias-Gionta-Gomez. Not sure where Parise fits in yet, but he is Definitely a Devil.

    I think Madden may get moved up a rank.

    Good to have Larry back, we will miss Pat Burns though.

    I think Jamie will shine more now and surprise some people this year. Marty will also have to work harder this year, now that he cannot play so much “offense.”

  5. eric_empire says:

    No one takes Pandos place he is as given in the team as Elias ocr Madden….

  6. WelcomeBackHockey says:

    Didn’t McAmmond sign with St. Louis? Good review regardless.

  7. cgolding says:

    stevens changes everything… it will be interesting how effective this team is defensively this year.

  8. Damian78 says:

    Well Friesen is out of the equation now. Not sure if they have to trade anyone else. I am glad thus far they haven’t traded Kozlov. Anyone who says they want to stay with the Team deserves a chance. Parise is going to compete for the Calder and I think are D is going to be fine. We got a up and coming Paul Martin who has proved he can play at the top level and Larry Robinson is the coach to guide him on the path. I think he will be our next Franchise Defenseman. EGG line will come back once Elias is back. Think we will do better than projected.

  9. Kamakaze says:

    Nice review of the Dev’s. I am VERY excited to see what this years team can do. I have not really been to crazy about the kind of teams they have iced in recent years, and just salivate thinking about their 2000 team…

    Anyways, I have been thinking about their lines, I figure it will look something like this by mid-season:

    Elias- Gomez- Gionta

    Pandolfo- Madden- Langenbrunner

    These two are definite.

    Brylin- Parise- Mogilny

    Oliwa- Rheaume- Marshall

    I figure Kozlov will be traded, if not, he and Parise may be swapped, or he may be thrown into the mix as a winger with Gomez’s line, or with Mogilny, perhaps seeing some PP time. I figure them to rotate their 4th line, adding rookies when they need scoring, Rassmusen and Marshall when they need balance, and Oliwa and Langdon for for big checkers.

    On the blue-line:

    McGillis- Rafalski

    White- Malakhov

    Matvichuk- Martin

    I could see Matvichuk with Rafalski too, giving him a good stay-at-home defenseman that he likes playing with. White and Malakhov played together last time Vlad was in Jersey, I figure to see them together again. Martin will be paired with either Matvichuk for veteran assistance, or McGillis to round out the 3 units.

    I expect to see strong play on special teams, they have Gomez, Parise and Elias as play-makers, Mogilny as the big finisher, Gionta and Langenbrunner as tough scoring grinders, and Rafalski, Malakhov, Martin and McGillis who can all play the point. On PK, you have Madden and Pando, who are both fast, skilled, and smart, with Elias, Brylin, Langenbrunner, Rheaume and even Gionta who can all step in and play on the 2nd unit. They are (for the most part) fast, skilled and responsible. They should rack up some Shorthanders.

    With Friesen gone (not a huge loss really…) I expect to see his friend Kozlov, who really isn’t a big part of the Jersey-style of play, and who really hasn’t done anything for the team. That, with his salary and trade value, I expect him to be gone before guys like Langenbrunner and Brylin, who have been here for years and always contributed in some way or another.

    This team is good enough to compete, they have as good a defense as any other team on paper. If Larry can get them to gel and play as a unit consistently, they have the talent to really do damage at both ends of the ice, especially with Marty back in net.

  10. devfanman4 says:

    Don’t forget our 9th defenseman…Tommy Albelin! That Swede just never goes away.

  11. JScottLeRoi says:

    im not saying to take him out of the lineup…I’m just saying on an offensive skill level, I’d say Kozlov may have more talent. I don’t doubt Pando has his place on this team. Any team would be lucky to have a guy like him.

  12. NjDEVSFN says:

    so McAmmond did sign in St. Louis, never heard about it, my (big) mistake

  13. wheresthesoda says:

    i saw the rangers-devils preseason game last night, parise looked real good. this kid has a future with this team.

    And this new rule changes, i think marty likes them a lot, with now on the PP he can make a bunch of bomb passes, he did it a lot last night.

    yea, so it’ll be an interesting season

  14. intelligentscorpio says:

    Devil’s never big on scoring goals were content to score one and sit on it. They cannot do that anymore. Also they do not have Neidermeyer and Stevens. Look for them to struggle this year.

  15. Kamakaze says:

    So far, the Devils seem to be averaging about 30 SOG against, that’s only 5 more shots on average to what he was facing last season, when he faced 1845 shots in 75 games, the most shots against since 1995.

    So do I think a defensive mentality will hinder the Devils? So far, no. Teams will score more goals against them, but the Devils still are very good defensively, who can boast as good a top 6? They aren’t the best, but few teams have this kind of depth at the blue line. Not to mention Sean Brown, David Hale, and Tommy A waiting to play.

    They also still have a very good group of skilled forwards, they never had a star-studded roster, but have usually managed to score some goals. They were their best offensively under Robinson, and I expect them to pull their weight offensively, especially with Gomez, Mogilny, Elias (when healthy), and I expect Gionta, Madden, Langenbrunner and Parise to pull their weight as well. You still have Brilyn with the odd goal, and (maybe) Kozlov, garbage goals from Rassmusen and Marshall, and Malahkov should keep the PP scoring.

    Marty seems to be as strong as ever, and while he is getting older, we still have some talented goalies waiting to play. Marty should have a blast dropping bombs to the forwards on the PP. The pad size shouldn’t be a factor for him.

    I still fail to see why the Devils will not be a Playoff bound team. Who is really that much better than them? It certainly isn’t Toronto or Pittsburgh.

  16. WelcomeBackHockey says:

    Well written. You are right about Marty loving the hail mary. Everyone said his game was going to be completely different by not being able to play the puck behind the net. What everyone failed to realize is that Marty is equally as good with the puck in front of the goal line as well. He’s been hitting targets tape to tape at the opposing blue line from just outside the goal crease. Yes teams will score more goals against them this season but everyone will get scored on more. Thats the whole concept of the “new” nhl. If the Devils can keep pace with the scoring and win games 6-5 instead of trying to win 2-1 or 3-2 then they’ll be in good shape. Also to note, Malakhov has at least 3 pp goals this preseason which gives me at least a small sense of security going into the campaign. Its going to be an interesting ride this season no doubt but I feel the Devils will be contenders again.

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