When I look at the Devils I see a team without the most important thing in this league: depth. They have some good players, in fact they have some VERY good pieces. But the team is shallow. I don't think they're as bad as they were for the first half, but they're much closer to that than to the other extreme of the crazy run.
It depends how players like Zubrus and Rolston and Tedenby etc. play this season. Those players have all shown the ability to play extremely good hockey. How consistent will they be though? Who knows.
Originally Posted by wolfgaze
There's many elements working against their favor:
-Brodeur is no where close to the level of goaltender he was during his prime years. He can't be counted on to compensate for other shortcomings in their team game anymore. Another sub-par season or a season affected by injuries, and he could very likely hang them up next summer following the expiration of his contract. Who are the Devils replacing him with?
-Parise is looking destined for a 1 year deal and potentially poised to become a UFA next summer where he will have multiple suitors. How this upcoming season unfolds could have a big impact on what happens with Parise if he chooses to hit the open market
-There are still uncertainties and question marks regarding their head coaching job. Lemaire seems to be the best candidate for the job, but he wants to retire and is no long term solution for the team. Who is their head coach going to be? Will he be best for their $100 mil forward? What game plan will the team employ on the ice?
-Devils roster lacks some of the cohesiveness of past teams that dominated during the regular season. Volchenkov and Tallinder, while they bounced back from the poor first half of the season, are not exactly the defensive cornerstones the Devils probably thought they were getting when they signed them both last summer. Devils do not have a certified anchor back on their defense, and no true offensive defenseman who can run things from the back-end... Colin White is up there in age and not really that effective anymore. Not too terribly impressed with their other d-men... Devils are going to need a really solid defense to compensate for the declining Brodeur, and for the soon to be Devils sans Brodeur.
-You look at the composition of their roster, and they to some degree resemble the Rangers first couple seasons, post-lockout. They have some aging veteran players whose better days are behind them (Elias, Rolston, Zubrus to an extent))... They additionally have some young, inexperienced players, who are only ready to play more of a supportive role, and then they have some inconsequential role players.
That being said, even if the Devils do manage to comfortably make the playoffs, I don't' see any aspect of their team that would suggest they would be poised for any post-season success. They are not a deep team up front, the signings of Janssen & Boulton in addition to the presence of Clarkson is a real head scratcher. Devils certainly have a litany of issues to work through, and you couldn't really say that about the teams that were dominant during the regular seasons in the past.
First, I donít disagree about Brodeur. While he has been prone some time now to allowing weak, terrible goals, the past few years they have increased so significantly itís alarming. He still makes the ridiculous saves from and plays fairly steady, but boy does he give up a ton of weak ones. Who are the Devils replacing him with? I donít think anyone. Which is why heíll be back after his contract expires IMO. I think heíll be here as long as he wants. Lou is loyal to his guys to a fault. Weíve seen that many times over. If Marty wants to be here he will be here. After that? Iíd expect Lou to make a trade or UFA signing to fill that void when the time comes.
I think itís a little too early to make any sort of comments about the Parise situation. While I understand where your viewpoint comes from itís really not a relevant situation to me as far as the Devils are concerned this season. I donít see the Devils moving him at any point even if he doesnít sign a long term extension, and I donít see Parise ever saying anything other than heíd like to be back in New Jersey after this year and that heíll deal with it next offseason (assuming of course he signs a one year deal in arbitration). Parise will have a huge role in determining how this season unfolds for them, so they kind of go hand in hand.
As far as the coach is concerned, Iím not sure anyone knows whatís going to happen. I donít think Therrien would be a terrible fit. Iím really not too concerned about what they decided to do there. I understand that Lemaire looked like a God because of what he did last year, and it helps that Kovy wants to make out with him, but I think more than anything it was just another blemish on MacLean and how bad he really was. That team was lost on a nightly basis under him. Youíd have to assume that theyíre going to bring in a coach with some experience this time around. Anyone who has been in the league and paid attention to who the Devils are should know how they need to play to be successful.
Youíre spot on when talking about the defense, and that is going to be the achilles heel of this team next season. The way the Devils saved them the second half of last season is by controlling tempo and play and not allowing them to get trapped in their zone. If the Devils control play through their forwards and keep their defensemen out of their own zone theyíll be alright. The defense even showed some offensive instincts last season, regardless of how talentless some of them looked. Itís easier said then done of course, but when the Devils are successful theyíre always forechecking and buzzing like crazy. Every team is better when they control the puck and keep it out of their zone. Weíll see if theyíre able to do that more often than not.
I agree with your Rangers post-lockout comparison, however I donít think youíre giving players like Elias, Rolston, and Zubrus enough credit. Elias is older sure, but he had 21 goals and 62 points last season. I mean....thatís pretty damn good. Rolston looked like one of the worst players in the NHL the first half of last season, but the second half he looked extremely capable again. Which Rolston will show up? Thatís a big question for them. Zubrus, in my opinion, might be one of the most underrated players around. The guy really can do a lot of things to help a team win a hockey game. Are they all on the wrong side of 30? Yeah, but for next season I donít see age being a huge problem for any of those three. Soon after? Yeah.
Iíd be really surprised if the Devils had Janssen and Boulton in the lineup at the same time for most games. Will it happen? Probably. I donít know how much though. Janssen has a 2 way deal anyways, so I donít think itís far fetched to see him in Albany most of the time and really be more of an insurance purpose/emergency call up.
I donít think theyíre a huge threat in the Eastern Conference either, and in the playoffs they wouldnít be a team that scares me. Especially because I think Brodeurís knack for giving up awful goals at the worst time really will just kill them in a playoff series like it has.
I do think theyíre going to be a playoff team however, and if theyíre not, I highly doubt theyíre going to miss by very much.
While the Devils don't scare anybody like they used to (2011 winning streak notwithstanding) you cant write them off. I think the organization will still have a tough go at it for a few more seasons, they have a ton of cap room for next season and can literally build an entire team around two of the game's top-10 forwards.
Let's not forget that a few years ago, they were a 50-win team with Clemmensen as their primary due to Fatso's injuries.
Still, I think the Rangers are primed for a lengthy run of regular season success while the Devils are still a few pieces away.