New Jersey Devils’ Five Most Useless Players of the 2013 NHL Season
The Five Most Useless New Jersey Devils of the 2013 NHL Season
The New Jersey Devils are off to an inconsistent start to the 2013 NHL season. The lockout-shortened campaign has seen New Jersey climb to the top of the Eastern Conference, only to lose nine of their next ten games and then rebound just in time to stay in the top eight.
With the season seemingly back under control, it’s time to take a look at who isn’t contributing to the success of this team.
The Devils are anchored by veteran leadership and scoring. Patrik Elias is having another phenomenal season after leading the Devils in points last year. Ilya Kovalchuk, despite a revolving door of linemates this year, has also performed well. The two forwards have been able to provide a semblance of stability to the New Jersey Devils’ 2013 season.
Unfortunately, many of the other contributors in the lineup have been unable to find consistency. After a hot start, David Clarkson is mired in a lengthy scoring slump. Adam Henrique is producing, but only recently did he start finding the back of the net. On defense, Andy Greene has cooled off considerably after a great start, and Adam Larsson may be the most inconsistent Devil on the roster as he continues to learn on the fly.
In a season marked by slumping scorers, sloppy defense, ineffective enforcers, and poor coaching, the Devils have failed to find the consistency that made them Stanley Cup finalists last year. Here is a look at the five most useless New Jersey Devils of the 2013 season so far.
#5: The Under-Performing Captain Bryce Salvador
It’s hard to call the captain of the team useless, but Bryce Salvador is proving to be less of a contributor on the ice than anticipated when the Devils made him captain. He has posted a -5 +/- rating, but that may be due in part to playing with Marek Zidlicky. Still, Salvador has produced just two points while playing more than 20 minutes a night.
As a captain, Salvador is a respected leader and a wonderful locker room personality. On the ice, however, Salvador is not helping the New Jersey Devils win games. He’s not scoring, and he’s not playing well defensively either.
#4: The Rarely Used Henrik Tallinder
Though some of Henrik Tallinder’s rusty play is the result of Peter DeBoer sitting him far too long before finally getting him on the ice, Tallinder’s performance this season has been dreadful. Of the eight-man defensive rotation the New Jersey Devils utilize, Tallinder appears to be the most expendable, but also the most overpaid and difficult to move. Untimely penalties and sloppy play have kept Tallinder scratched from the majority of Devils games this year.
Still, his numbers on the ice actually aren’t that bad. In 14 games, he’s produced three points – one more than Bryce Salvador on the year. He has a positive +/- rating and is averaging more than 16 minutes per game.
#3: The Defensively-Challenged Marek Zidlicky
Marek Zidlicky is a four-million-dollar defenseman that hasn’t posted a positive +/- since 2007. He has decent offensive production at times, but Zidlicky is a clear detriment to a shaky defensive group. Poorly timed pinches, bad passes, and careless play results in countless two-on-one breaks and goals against. Because of the mediocrity of the rest of the defensive corps, the New Jersey Devils are unable to make up for Zidlicky’s over-aggression.
While Zidlicky does serve a purpose as a tepid offensive threat from the point, particularly on the power play, his offensive upside is not worth his total abandonment of defensive commitment.
#2: The Slumping Johan Hedberg - Or the Stubborn Peter DeBoer
It’s hard to blame Johan Hedberg for the six-game skid the New Jersey Devils went on once he took over for an injured Martin Brodeur. Hedberg was a long-time backup, used to frequent rest and favorable matchups. The play in front of Moose dropped off dramatically when he became the starting goaltender, and many of the goals he allowed were not necessarily his fault. Still, it would have been nice to see Hedberg make a big save that turned a game around, and he failed to do that – often allowing soft goals that lost games instead.
Since I don’t want to call Hedberg useless, particularly given how valuable he was to the New Jersey Devils last season, I am going to blame Head Coach Peter DeBoer for running a struggling goaltender into the ground. Moose needed a break, and none of the moves DeBoer made worked over the course of the Devils’ skid.
#1: The Punchless Enforcer Krys Barch
To say Krys Barch does not serve a purpose on this team certainly makes me a hypocrite, but I was wrong about his role with the New Jersey Devils. Barch could be the enforcer that the Devils desperately need, but instead he’s simply a forward that lacks the ability to contribute offensively.
Barch does indeed occasionally start fights, but he rarely wins them. He fails to set the tone physically and is a detriment to offensive production. While the Devils, as a finesse team, could certainly use a player to step in and defend their offensive weapons, Barch has proven time and time again that he is not the guy to do the job.