Five Questions For The New Jersey Devils
1. Thanks Ilya, now what?
The Devils lost their superstar Ilya Kovulchuck to the KHL in Russia a couple months ago, and the perennial scorer has left the Devils with an enormous hole in the middle of their lineup. The consistent 80-point performer passes the torch to new leading New Jersey scorer, Patrick Elias, who put up a mere 36 points in the lockout-shortened season. Kovulchuck really destroyed the Devils by leaving. Just a few years ago, Kovulchuck signed a monstrous contract and left the Devils with 12 years and $77 million left on his deal. Many believe that if Kovulchuck did not sign the deal with New Jersey, the Devils would have had no problem resigning Zach Parise, who left via free agency last summer. Nevertheless, Kovulchuck dismantled the Devils’ offense with one selfish move.
2. Who starts in net?
Martin Brodeur has been a rock in net for the Devils since he became a regular player in 1993-94. Since then, he has led the league in wins nine times, and has led the league in shutouts five times. He has a career record of 669-380-148 with 121 shutouts. So, the 41-year-old net minder deserves another year starting for the Devils, right? Well, during the NHL entry draft, the Devils traded for Corey Schneider, the displaced Vancouver Canucks budding star. Schneider is officially listed as the team’s backup goaltender for now, but don’t be surprised in the injury-riddled Brodeur opens the door for Schneider through injury or poor play. We may be seeing the last of Brodeur this year. The Devils have two phenomenal choices here, so it’s not really a problem. The situation is just going to get very uncomfortable when the front office needs to make the decision to put the Brodeur-era to rest.
3. How will the new ownership affect the current status of the team?
The Devils recently sold to Josh Harris and David Blitzer for $320 million, but also incurred all of the debt that the Devils are in. As a small-market team playing right in the shadow of big-market teams like the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers, the Devils have always had financial issues. Aside from the debt the team is in, free agent signings and playing the cap have been problematic for New Jersey. Most importantly, relocation will be out of the question, too.
4. Was signing Jaromir Jagr, Ryan Clowe, and Michael Ryder a good move?
The Devils signed three veterans after learning of Kovulchuck’s departure and David Clarkson’s exit to Toronto. Two of the leading scorers from the season before were gone, and in come three displaced free agents who can score, but at what cost? Ryan Clowe reportedly had three concussions last season between the San Jose Sharks and the New York Rangers. At a lofty price of $24 million over four years, Clowe is one of the riskiest moves that the Devils desperately made. That’s a hefty cost for a player that couldn’t stay on the ice the year before. Jagr, on the other hand, was a solid signing. The aged superstar can still play and can still put the puck in the net. Ryder has the potential to do so, but the three of them cannot possibly make up for the lost production from a season ago.
5. How much is youngster Adam Henrique worth?
This offseason, the Devils inked the RFA Henrique to a $24 million, six-year deal. For what Henrique may become this year and throughout the duration of the contract, the Devils appear to have gotten a steal. The Calder Trophy finalist from two seasons ago has already shown potential to become a superstar in the league, and his production justifies that. He had 51 points in his rookie season, and pushed the Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals with his overtime goal in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Devils are committing a lot of capital towards Henrique, and he better be nothing less than the real thing to prove to the NHL that he is worth his new deal.