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Offseason Report: New Jersey Devils

Jul 27, 2012, 12:33 PM EST

Devils score AP

From July 16-Aug 16, we’ll be profiling all 30 NHL teams by recapping what they did this offseason and previewing their upcoming campaigns.

2011-12 season

48-28-6, 102 points, fourth in the Atlantic Division, sixth in the Eastern Conference. Beat Florida in the Conference quarterfinals (4-3), Philadelphia in the semis (4-1), New York Rangers in the finals (4-2).

Lost to Los Angeles in the Stanley Cup finals (4-2).

Additions

Krys Barch

Departures

Zach Parise, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Matt Taormina, Eric Boulton

2012 Draft

First round, 29th overall — Stefan Matteau (US National Team Development Program)

Looking back

New Jersey’s offseason has been defined by what was lost rather than what was retained. In Parise, the Devils lost their captain and three-time leading scorer — a departure that overshadowed some key re-signings by Lou Lamoriello.

Getting Martin Brodeur back (after his brief flirtation with free agency) was huge. Last year’s playoff run proved the 40-year-old is still an elite netminder, and re-inking backup Johan Hedberg will go a long way in keeping Brodeur fresh throughout the 2012-13 season.

Lamoriello also re-upped with Bryce Salvador, the unlikely postseason scoring hero, on a tidy three-year, $9.5 million deal. Solid value for a veteran presence that’s durable and can play over 20 minutes a night. LouLam then signed RFA defenseman Mark Fayne to a two-year, $2.6 million deal, more good value for a guy that played in all 82 regular season (17 points) and 24 playoff games (three points) for the Devils last year.

Finally, there was the shrewd move of bringing back New Jersey’s dynamic fourth line from the Stanley Cup run — Stephen Gionta, Steve Bernier and Ryan Carter. The line combined for 21 points in 24 playoff games with a plus-11 rating.

Looking forward

The Devils have over $14 million in cap space and are just above the floor, but the team’s uncertain financial future could prevent them from spending. There’s also the issue of a thinned-out free agent market that just saw its last semi-marquee name — Alex Semin — ink with Carolina on a whopping one-year, $7 million deal.

Lamoriello’s on record saying “you don’t replace a Zach Parise,” suggesting he’ll look within the organization to fill the offensive void. Calder nominee Adam Henrique will likely be tagged as one to claim a bigger role and expand on his point production, and the Devils will benefit from a full season of both Travis Zajac (just 15 regular season games last year) and Marek Zidlicky (22) in the lineup.

Have your say

Vote in our poll and let us know what you think of New Jersey’s 2012-13 outlook in the comments section.

  1. zaksyuk - Jul 27, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    Farty Odor will keep this team in it all year bro !

  2. thecheeman - Jul 27, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Lots to like about the Devils this year despite Zach. Before Zidlicky we haven’t had a defenseman who could contribute meaningfully on the power play since I don’t know, Paul Martin? Plus he’ll be a guy Larsson can learn from up close in that respect. Also, Zajac will have a chance to play at 100% which he never was last year. Henrique didn’t even start last year on the team even with Zajac out. He only got called up after I believe Josefson’s first injury, so an entire preseason camp with a secure role where he can focus on improving parts of his game rather than trying to make the team will be good. Regarding Josefson, before his second injury he was really showing signs of why he was taken in the first round at one point in time. He was getting it.

    Besides Zach I’m worried mostly about Clarkson’s numbers dipping. He had so many big goals last year, but there were lots of fluky ones. Off his rear-end, off his shoulder, off his arm, off his hip, off his leg. It seemed like 10 of his 30 goals were accidental deflections, and while a lot of it is a byproduct of his willingness to go to the net and fight for position, there was a high level of luck.

    This team isn’t as strong at the top but 1 through 12 there’s much more strengtht this year. Still a playoff team, but they will have real trouble treading water through something like a month-long injury to Kovy. It’s all on him.

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 27, 2012 at 12:58 PM

      “Besides Zach I’m worried mostly about Clarkson’s numbers dipping. He had so many big goals last year, but there were lots of fluky ones. Off his rear-end, off his shoulder, off his arm, off his hip, off his leg. It seemed like 10 of his 30 goals were accidental deflections, and while a lot of it is a byproduct of his willingness to go to the net and fight for position, there was a high level of luck.”

      While many of his goals looked flukey/lucky, the best players make their own luck. He’s obviously not some elite player but he’s in the NHL for a reason.

  3. lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 27, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    As good as Parise is, I wonder, if the Devils have a downward slide this year, how much of it is a direct result of his talent leaving them and how much is psychological. I’m a Wild homer and I’m thrilled about his addition (if y’all haven’t been paying attention) but while he’s good, and he is good, he’s not an elite talent or a pure goal scorer. I’m curious to see how the Devils respond on the ice.

    • martysbetter - Jul 27, 2012 at 1:35 PM

      None of us can measure the psychological aspect of Zach leaving, he was Captain and a leader of the team, but there are a lot of quality clubhouse guys on this squad – Bryce Salvador has been championed as a fantastic leader and guy in the clubhouse, Kovalchuk was in every post-game conversation regarding leadership in the locker-room, Elias has been a lifetime Devil and consummate professional throughout his career.

      Honestly? I think sometimes the leadership role of Zach Parise was overstated, during his tenure in New Jersey there were a lot of long-term guys who had been in the organization for a very long time, I don’t think losing him will effect the team chemistry-wise.

    • thecheeman - Jul 27, 2012 at 2:46 PM

      Zach has elite hockey instincts along the boards, I’ll say the best in the league unless someone shows me a full season highlight package of another player proving otherwise, and very quick, soft hands around the net. Great body control along with his hockey instincts make him very effective on the kill as well.

      What he doesn’t bring: the ability to skate the puck through the neutral zone, notably above-average speed, an ability to create his own shot (like Kovy or Elias), diversity of options on the power play (he can’t run the point, can’t tee-up a slapper from the wing), can’t nifty-skate through a seam on a breakdown to set up his own shot).

      I think with another year removed from his major injury, along with being juiced from his return home, he’ll likely improve this first year, but while I wouldn’t call them “weaknesses” he’s lacking any strengths in some major areas for a $100M man. It might be worth it to Minnesota as he gives the franchise an identity and marketability that other players can’t provide, but on hockey alone it’s bad.

      I’ll likely go to my grave telling my grandkids that he’s the best player along the boards I’ve ever seen though, and it was a major factor in the Devils impressive forecheck game in the playoffs where they dominated the Flyers and Rangers for long stretches with long offensive-zone possessions. Zach will be missed, but he just doesn’t seem irreplaceable like we’ll never see his kind pass through again.

  4. stakex - Jul 27, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    There is no way a rational person could think the Devils will be better next season.

    They lost their best player in Parise, and made no real effort to replace him or make their offense better. That means this Devils team, which finished 15ht if goals scored this year… is likely to have huge offensive problems.

    In net its not much better. Brodeur is going to be 40 this year… and his play is far more likely to decline then anything else. I know he looked good in the playoffs, but no one can beat father time forever. On top of that, Hedberg isn’t a spring chicken himself (39)… and has never been more then a marginal goalie to begin with. I think expecting him to repeat his good play from last season is a stretch. In the end, there are far more possible pitfalls with their goaltending then there is possibility.

    The only good new for the Devils is that, even though they are going to be worse at least on paper, they were one of the best teams in the league last year. So getting a bit worse doesn’t make them a bottom feeder. Still though, its hard to see this years Devils team making it as far as last year. Really hard.

  5. 950003cups - Jul 27, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    The Devils spent one year out of the playoffs. During which they put up a record 2nd half (20-2-2) led solely on the back of Kovalchuk. The 1st haf season was purely due to a rookie coach.

    Parise has NEVER been one who carried his squad game in and game out. He was sporadic at best. Many fans always seemed to give him a pass for missing passes or open net shots. That’s how he got the nickname “Golden Boy” in NJ.
    Wild fans better pray to the heavens that you don’t end up seeing Zach’s butt buddy, Jamie Langenbrunner, on your team. Zach seemed to drop off the score sheet when his x-boyfriend was banished out of NJ.

    • thecheeman - Jul 27, 2012 at 2:21 PM

      Parise missed that entire season, save for one token final game appearance, that Langenbrunner got shipped out so not sure what your comment about Zach dropping off the scoresheet is all about.

  6. mclovinhockey - Jul 27, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    Despite being mainly defensive team losing their best O for nothing, I still see this team being a playoff team.

  7. 950003cups - Jul 27, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    He had 45 goals under Sutter. He went to 38 with Lemaire. Then 31 with DeBoer when his boy was gone in an offensive system that he claims to love. Under Yao (if the guy lasts till April) expect another drop. He should have stayed in NJ. He had it made. Kovalchuk treated him like royalty. If someone hit Zach, like that dirtbag Rinaldo, Kovalchuk dropped his gloves and then dropped Schenn. If any of Zach’s teammates ever were cheap shotted, he would pretend he didn’t see it. Even Crosby had the balls to drop the gloves a few times. CROSBY!!! Zach had one fight with a guy smaller than him and LOST. Wayne Gretzky even had 4 fights!! Granted he went 0-4, but still…

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 27, 2012 at 3:47 PM

      Dude. We got Zenon muthaluvin’ Konopka this spring. He’ll help protect Parise’s keester, along with Kassian. Wild FTW.

  8. 950003cups - Jul 27, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    I’m not saying fighting is mandatory, but it shows character, plus there are times you NEED to fight. F’n Adam Henrique dropped em with Jerome F’n Iginla!! Then took McDonough off the ice in the playoffs in a fight and Devils scored. I believe that was the game that tied the series.

    Ahh, what am I complaining about. He saved us $100,000,000… His fanbase was mostly made up of 15 year old girls.

  9. 950003cups - Jul 27, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    Whatever. If Minnesota doesn’t succeed with them, then I hope Zach likes Seattle. Cause Minnesota already lost a team once. It can happen again.

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 27, 2012 at 3:48 PM

      LOL Nu Joisee’s in more danger of moving than the Wild are, broski.

  10. 950003cups - Jul 27, 2012 at 7:52 PM

    Because they’ve been soooo successful. Once Vanderbeek agrees to sell, NJ is fine. Minnesota just spent $200,000,000 on one UNproven playoff guy and another PROVEN playoff ghost. I can see the deal for Suter. But that much for a grinder?

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