As the NHL lockout drags along into another long week, the AHL has opened its doors all across North America and that includes the New Jersey Devils affiliate in Albany. Competition is expected to be intense in the feeder league with so many otherwise NHL caliber players opting to play there until the lockout ends. That is one reason why I found the recently formed line combination of Bobby Butler, Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby so intriguing.
Although it is still very early in training camp, the three have been united on a line for one common purpose – be creative in the offensive end, score goals and be ready to make an impact in the NHL. This could very well be all three forwards final shot to play with the Devils beyond this season.
New Jersey signed Butler to a two-way contract over the summer after the final year of his contract was bought out by the Ottawa Senators. Butler played in 96 games over the last three season with the Senators, scoring 16 goals with 21 helpers. Just like his current Albany line mates, Butler is a bit small, but posses all the tools necessary to be an effective NHL forward. He is fast, has good instincts and a heck of a shot. At just 25-years-old the The 6-foot, 185-pound Marlborough, Mass. native is primed to moved passed his flame out with Ottawa and make an impact with the Devils.
New Jersey fans are much more familiar with Tedenby and Josefson and what they bring to the team. I think it’s important that people move past Teddy’s struggles over the last couple of seasons. He limped through 43 games in 2011-12, scoring one goals with a minus-15 rating. Thankfully, Tedenby is only 22-years-old and still possesses some of the best hands and feet I have ever seen. He and Josefson have already shown decent chemistry together with the Devils. The problem has always been continuity on a game to-game basis and of course, health.
For Josefson, it seems just as he takes a step in the right direction he falls, breaks something and has to start over. Literally. Despite scoring just 19 (5g 14a) points in 69 career games, Josefosn has shown that he can be an effective NHL center when healthy. If the young Swede can stay out of a cast, he is going to be a solid contributor for the Devils.
The impact good linemates can have on one another is astounding. Just think of Steve Bernier, Ryan Carter and Stephen Gionta. Before Devils head coach Pete Deboer united the three on a line at the end on the 2011-12 regular season, the trios lone claim to fame was that Stephen is the younger brother former-Devil Brian Gionta. Now they are Garden State heroes (sans the boarding penalty fiasco).
I’m not saying that Butler + Tedenby + Josefson = Hockey Royalty, but it certainly has the makings of a fun and productive line. Can you imagine the speed? I already have a few names picked out for them…”Hell’s Fury” or “The Flash Line” or “Little Lightning.”
It will be important to see how well they respond once they get into a game situation. Will they be able to adjust to each other to make things happen offensively or will they simply fall back into old habits? I like to think this could be of those training camp moves that turns out to be better than any free-agent signing or trade out there.
Perhaps if there is one good thing that can come form this lockout, it’s that the New Jersey Devils may have a little longer to polish some of their extremely valuable diamonds in the rough.
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