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Devils Make or Break Season Off to Big Start

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01-29-2013, 04:17 PM
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Devils Make or Break Season Off to Big Start

Last year was a dismal failure for the Devils. Picked to contend for the conference title in the preseason, the team floundered out of the gate and couldn't get on a roll. The team added quality players this off-season, most notably superstar youngster John Tavares by trade to go along with free agent signings Kristen Huselius and Ryan Smyth. Rookies Tyler Seguin, Nick Leddy and Jared Cowen also joined the team. Once again the team entered the season with high hopes, but also with the knowledge that another poor season could result in major changes.

The Devils entered the season with five pending unrestricted free agents, including top center Ryan Getzlaf, star winger Alexander Semin and starting goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. Jeff Halpern and Brandon Prust are the other pending free agents while Kristen Huselius is expected to retire at the end of the year.

Keeping this team together will be all the more difficult given that the team has roughly $8M in cap space and will need to use a large part of that to re-sign John Tavares. The team may be able to squeeze all of the key players under the cap next year, but it would be at the expense of bringing in new players. If the core of this team doesn't prove it can contend this year, it likely won't be given another chance.

Luckily, things have started out much differently from a year ago. The team jumped out to an 8-0 start before finally losing yesterday (and yes, I did wait a few days to post so as not to anger the sim gods and jinx it). It's early, but the team has the highest scoring offense and the fifth best defense in the league. One of the keys for the Devils so far is that the team is physical yet disciplined, the team is 2nd in the league in hits per game while committing the sixth fewest penalties. If the team can keep playing like it is, Epstein will likely begin discussions with the Swingstein family about keeping the core together. If not, the trade deadline will get very interesting in New Jersey.

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01-29-2013, 04:46 PM
Ohio Jones
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You've had what should have been contending teams for years, nice (and scary for Eastern teams) to finally see them playing up to their potential.

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