Checking in on the New Jersey DevilsJuly 15, 2014, by
Last year: 35-29-18, sixth in the Metro Division
Key additions: Mike Cammalleri, Martin Havlat, Scott Clemmensen
Franchise direction: The Devils have finally turned the page on the Brodeur era, but that doesn’t mean the team is any younger. New Jersey added the 32-year-old Cammalleri and 33-year-old Havlat to a group that already includes 34-year-old Michael Ryder, 36-year-old Dainius Zubrus, 37-year-old Marek Zidlicky, 38-year-old Bryce Salvador, 38-year-old Patrik Elias and 42-year-old Jaromir Jagr. The Devils are certainly not rebuilding, but their plan is a little puzzling.
Salary cap: The Devils still have nearly $5 million in cap space available and their roster is virtually set. After this season many of the dinosaurs will be UFAs, so New Jersey is in good position to change course quickly if it makes sense. Cory Schneider was the last major piece that New Jersey needed to secure long-term, so Lou Lamoriello’s club is in great shape.
Prospect pipeline: D Adam Larsson hasn’t panned out after 128 games, but he’s still just 21 years old and a terrific prospect. Jon Merrill should join him in a full-time role on the blueline this season. The Devils don’t have many forward spots available, so it might be hard for Stefan Matteau to make the team, but he’s also about ready. After them, defensemen Damon Severson and Steve Santini are probably the next impact prospects on the way, but it will be a few years.
Projection: The Devils probably shouldn’t have missed the playoffs last year, but poor goaltending from Brodeur and horrible shootout luck left them sitting at home. The offense figures to be much improved and Cory Schneider should provide a huge upgrade as the undisputed No. 1 goalie, but New Jersey is thin on defense and ancient up front. The Devils will be in the mix, but they don’t stack up with the division’s big boys on paper.
Other Metro Division offseason recaps: Flyers