10 Best Players Who Will Face New Jersey Devils In New Division
Best Players Who Will Face New Jersey Devils In New Division
It is not a surprise to say those on the New Jersey Devils that you can call stars are quite old. They are past their prime, and that's being nice. The rest of the division is packed with players who are anywhere from a budding star, a star in their twilight or a star in his absolute prime. The division race is going to be tight all season long.
It will be interesting to see how the new alignment works in its first year. There is a huge possibility that this could be one of those "seemed better on paper" situations. Although, it can't be a bad thing to break up the Southeast Division.
The Devils have an uphill climb if they want to make noise in their new division. They are trying to win when their biggest stars are both 41 years old. You also have Adam Henrique, who could be considered a star with his performance in the 2011-12 playoffs. The new signings of Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder were great moves, but hardly stars. Patrik Elias is one of the most underrated players in the NHL and he is back for three years. The Devils have always been known for winning without having star power at the forward position.
The forwards in this division are going to give the Devils' defense fits. The teams are stacked. Predicting the finish of this division is near impossible, as one injury could make a team go from first to worst in an instant. These 10 are the best forwards in the division. Expect them to have the biggest impact on who makes the playoffs as the Metropolitan Division's representative.
10. Alexander Semin
Alexander Semin was a player Devils fans were hoping would come to the Garden State after the departure of Zach Parise. He ended up choosing the newly retooled Carolina Hurricanes. Although the Canes had an off year in 2013, that doesn't take anything away from Semin. In what was most likely the worst year of his career he was still a point per game producer. He is a 10 year veteran, but he is still only 29 years old. His 8.7 percent shooting percentage is much lower than his career average of 13.5. That shows that his luck will most likely turn around this season and his goal production should improve. The Hurricanes are a team that is obviously top heavy, but those top forwards can beat you by themselves on certain nights.
9. Vincent Lecavalier
Vincent Lecavalier is spending the first season of his career outside of a Tampa Bay Lightning uniform. It will be strange watching him wear orange and black. Although the Lightning felt they needed to move on from him, Lecavalier is still a star player. He may be on the wrong side of 30 and he might not be able to score 40 goals a season anymore, but he is going to add a lot to the Philadelphia Flyers this season. Even though most fans would have liked the team to find a replacement for Chris Pronger, they will be more than happy once they see the production he brings at the center position.
8. Eric Staal
Eric Staal is another player who is very similar to Elias. He has played for the same team his entire career, and because of it he has become overlooked. Last season he played in every game and scored 53 points. It takes a certain kind of player to lead his team in points and in penalty minutes. He has the tenacity to get into the face of the other team, and then come out of the box and score. The Hurricanes' captain is their emotional leader. He probably deserves the "C" on his chest more than any other player in the league. There is only one Eric Staal in the NHL.
7. Marian Gaborik
The Columbus Blue Jackets made the biggest splash at last season's deadline when they acquired Marian Gaborik from the New York Rangers. He is coming off his worst season of his career, but also one season before he scored 41 goals. It seems that the relationship with John Tortorella had finally gotten to Gaborik's play on the ice. There is no way that his skill has disappeared at 31 years old. He is still one of the best pure goal scorers in the game. He brings an element to the Blue Jackets that they haven't seen since, well since the last time the Blue Jackets were involved in a trade with the Rangers.
6. Rick Nash
Rick Nash had the best season he had in a long time last season. He had to as the rest of the Rangers seemed to struggle. We spoke of how Gaborik had issues finding the back of the net before he got traded, but Brad Richards and Chris Kreider couldn't find the scoring touch. Nash carried his team to a sixth seed in the playoffs. Nash seemed to disappear in the playoffs, however. He could only muster one goal in the Rangers' 12 playoff games. This season he is going to look to take his regular season production into the playoffs. His second season in New York will be a site to see. With a whole offseason to get chemistry with his fellow linemates, Nash could be even better this season.
5. John Tavares
It only takes a year to turn a good player into a superstar. John Tavares ranked third in the NHL in goals in 2013. He was on an 82 game pace to reach 47 goals last season. He took the New York Islanders to their first postseason appearance in six years. He became a star with how he carried his team all season. He scored five points in the six games against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs in a surprising performance by his Islanders. Can he repeat it? He is only 22 years old and looks to be a once-in-a-generation star. The Islanders will look to build around him and Matt Moulson for hopefully the next decade. It has been a long time since the Isles fans were this excited about their team. With this guy playing for them, it finally makes sense.
4. Claude Giroux
It seemed like Claude Giroux really missed the presence of Jaromir Jagr last season. His points per game production went down about 20 percent. He is currently dealing with an injury he acquired playing golf. He may miss the beginning of the season, but when he comes back he will be a force to be reckoned with. Giroux was still a point per game player in 2013, but he didn't seem like he was the super duper star he was the season before. The Flyers sorely need him to return to the player he was, and he probably will. He is crazy talented and will learn to play with new linemates with an actual training camp this year. As much as it pains me to say, Giroux will play up to his talent once again this season. That's bad news for the rest of the division.
3. Evgeni Malkin
Evgeni Malkin's stardom may be hurt by his teammate, but it is impossible to ignore the fact that he is one of the best players in the game. He came into last season as the reigning Hart Trophy winner, and was trying to repeat that performance. Unfortunately, concussion and shoulder injuries would hold him back from really dominating. After the additions of Jarome Iginla and Jussi Jokinen at the trade deadline, the Penguins were supposed to roll to a Stanley Cup. It did not work out that way. The Boston Bruins put a wrench into their plans. The Pens have something to prove, and Malkin will be at the forefront of their comeback. He just signed a mega deal to be a Penguin until 2021-22. He is going to show his team they made the right decision.
2. Alexander Ovechkin
The reigning MVP of the league will have a lot to prove playing in the new division. He had the pleasure of playing in the Southeast division for his entire career. It is no secret that this is the easiest division to play in. Will Alex Ovechkin's skills continue in the Metropolitan division? Ovechkin's fall from grace may have been overstated. Yes, he wasn't the 50 goal scorer he was a few years, but he has still been one of the best players in the game since he came into the league. Ovechkin coming into the same division as the Penguins can only be a new revenue stream for the NHL. The Washington Capitals hope last year was the rule and not the exception.
1. Sidney Crosby
Still the best player in the league. There is no doubt that Sidney Crosby is still the coup de gras when it comes to NHL players. He may be playing on borrowed time when it comes to the severity of his head injuries, but while he is in the league he will be the best in the world. The star scored 56 points in 36 games. When the entire team fell into a rut in the playoffs, Crosby was still scoring. He, like every other Penguin, was shutout in the Bruins series. It has been over a full season since Crosby has missed time due to his head, and he should be all but fully healed by the time the 2013-14 season comes around. That is the worst news anyone in this division could have received.