New Jersey Devils: Quietly Rebuilding?


Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

As many of you may know, the Devils are under new ownership.  The owner of Philadelphia’s NBA team, the 76ers, bought the team for $320 million in August.  Luckily, he is going to keep the Devils in New Jersey where they belong.  Although Josh Harris, the new owner, is at the head of the franchise, we still have the legendary Lou Lamoriello.  The 70-year old is already in the NHL Hall of Fame for his work with the Devils.

It was a surprise when then owner John McMullen named Lamoriello president of the club back in 1987 when he also named himself the general manager.  This was a surprise because Lou had never played, coached or managed in the NHL.  He was mostly unknown by everyone in the league, but this move by the Devils turned out to be the best one in team history.  27 years later, Lamoriello has rebuilt the team and won 3 Stanley Cups.  There aren’t many moves that were mistakes under the legendary president.

The Devils are far from the richest team in the NHL so they have to be smart with who they draft and pick up in free agency.  They remind me of the NBA team, San Antonio Spurs.  It is evident that the Devils have relied on their defense and the goaltending skills of now 41-year old Martin Brodeur.  Expecting Brodeur to retire after this season, the Devils traded their 9th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft to the Canucks for goaltender Cory Schneider.  The 27-year old has impressed many in the early season and will be the future for the Devils in net.

OK, the Devils have the net covered, how about the people directly in front of it?  The defensemen of the Devils have made a name for themselves always being some of the best players in the league.  One of the most famous Devils, Scott Stevens, was a defenseman.  The Devils seem to be fine as of right now with their current defensive squad.  Salvador, 37, and Zidlicky, 36, are the oldest of the defense so they should have a year or two more out of them.  Other than that the Devils are built for the future at that position.

Scoring has always been a problem for the only professional Jersey team left.  After losing Zach Parise after the 2012 season, there was a hole left unfilled in 2013.  Ilya Kovalchuk tried to carry the load last season and this year he isn’t on the roster.

Where did he go?

He went back to his homeland, Russia, to play hockey there.  With 12 years and $77 million left on his contract he walked away from New Jersey.  I am happy he left,though. I don’t want a stuck up brat wasting our cap space trying to manufacture goals for a defensive minded team.  After he announced his retirement and the loss of David Clarkson to free agency, the Devils desperately needed wings to fill their absence.

The Devils filled the shoes of Clarkson by signing Michael Ryder and Ryan Clowe.  Although both over 30, I expect them to be scoring goals for the next couple of seasons.  The team only temporarily fixed the problem caused by the prima donna Kovalchuk.  They signed 41-year old Jaromir Jagr to play right wing.  Jagr is coming off a Stanley Cup trip with the Boston Bruins last season and is expected to be one of the leaders this season.  He will also be playing along fellow Czech Patrick Elias, who has been a rock for the Devils for many years.

Although there are new scorers on board, I think the Devils will still struggle to score.  With many wings over 30, I think New Jersey has to consider drafting or picking up younger assets at the position soon.

Center, the final position I have to criticize, is probably going to be one of the best for a while if they can keep everyone on board.  With the only person being over 30 being the legend, Patrick Elias, the Devils are built for the long run at the position.  Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique, should they remain with the team, can create a legacy along with Cory Schneider.

I expect the Devils to continue to stack talent for the future.  The Brodeur Era is coming to a close and a new one is going to be born.  With new ownership and a rejuvenated fan base, I expect the New Jersey Devils to see success in the near future.  The Devils are one of the model franchises in sports and with Lou Lamoriello calling the shots I expect it to remain that way.

When Lou does retire, I expect him to make sure the Devils have someone just as great as him lined up to fill his duties.