Ever since General Manager Lou Lamoriello took over in the front office, the New Jersey Devils have enjoyed constant success. The Devils have made the playoffs in 20 of the last 22 seasons, including every year for the past 13. The Devils also hold the longest winning record in America’s four major sports, finishing above .500 for 18 straight years. Playing in the ultra competitive Atlantic Division, the Devils are expected to finish in the top 4 or 5 in the eastern conference every year. This year will be no different as New Jersey sports a new coach and a offensive toolbox to compete with the high powered forward groups of todays NHL. This season, the Devils will look to push through their recent postseason woes and crack back into the later rounds of the playoffs.
Offense: A The major story in the headlines from the trade deadline through the duration of the summer was the Ilya Kovalchuk contract negotiation. The dynamic Russian left wing has signed essentially a lifetime contract with a team that has historically lacked an offensive spark. Kovalchuk will help New Jersey keep up with the high powered offenses of the Capitals and Penguins. He will be playing with the young and talented right winger Zach Parise. Both possess deadly shots and will line up on either side of underrated playmaker Travis Zajac. Zajac had 67 points last year and his numbers are only going to improve between the two snipers. On the second line, old friends are united with Jason Arnott back in a Devils sweater and playing with Patrick Elias. The two were linemates during three New Jersey Stanley Cup championships and will look to rekindle the magic. On the other wing will be American Jamie Langenbrunner, who had another 60 point year last season and shows no signs of slowing down.
Defense: A The Devils have always been regarded as having one of the strongest defenses in the league, and they always will as long as Lou Lamiorello has anything to say in the matter. While they lost the services of two way defenseman Paul Martin, they won out on the free agency bidding war for hot ticket item Anton Volchenkov. The shut down, shot blocking machine will play alongside newly acquired Henrik Tallinder. Tallinder was brought in from Buffalo, where offense is stressed much more so than in New Jersey. However, Tallinder tended to be more defensive minded, and will continue to use his size to his advantage in the Garden State. For depth, the Devils will look to veteran tough guy Colin White on the back end. White has a history of punishing opponents and fits right into the Devils no nonsense defense. Mark Fraser and Andy Greene add some more solid coverage in the defensive zone. Greene also had a career high 31 assists last season, and with the additions to the forward group, there is no reason why that number shouldn’t rise even further. To round out the top six New Jersey may look to rookie Alexander Unborn. The 19 year old Swede is 6’3” and will do his best to earn a permanent spot before Bryce Salvador returns from injured-reserve.
Goaltending: A- The New Jersey Devils are Martin Brodeur. The 36 year old netminder recently became the winningest goalie of all time shortly before breaking Terry Sawchuk’s record for regular season shutouts with his 103rd perfect game. Brodeur is a fantastic goalie in a system suited perfectly around him. He will start at least 50 games as always and will be among the leagues best in terms of wins, shutouts, save percentage, and goals against. Such is the consistency you can expect from a goaltender of this caliber. However, Marty has faltered in the postseason in recent years. In order to carry this team to a Stanley Cup victory once again, Brodeur will need to make saves at crucial moments in the spring when the Devils inevitably make the playoffs again.