Top 5 New Jersey Devils Storylines Going Into 2013-14 Season
5 New Jersey Devils Storylines Going Into The Season
The New Jersey Devils were king of the headlines this season. They lost David Clarkson to free agency. They watched their star player Ilya Kovalchuk retire. They brought in longtime rival Jaromir Jagr. They were taken over by a new ownership group led by Josh Harris. They brought in Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder. They hosted the draft. They traded their first-round pick at that draft for Cory Schneider. They traded back in the draft to take Anthony Brodeur. They took once well-renowned prospect Myles Bell after a car accident that changed his entire life. After a long process, they re-signed Adam Henrique to a six-year contract. They brought their franchise leader in almost every category, Patrik Elias, back on a three-year deal.
They sure have been in the headlines without even trying to be. The offseason is one that was hard to keep up with. At least hockey fans didn't have a shortage of articles to read. There was plenty to talk about with this Devils team for the past four months.
Now the season is starting. All that needs to be talked about is what happens in the games. That is how the Devils want it, anyway. This season has the ability to be one to remember. It is the first in the new Metropolitan Division. The Devils have three new opponents in the division. They will play some of the biggest stars in the NHL on a nightly basis. These are the five storylines that need to be watched for this 2013-14 season.
5. How Will Jaromir Jagr Do In New Jersey?
As was said before, Jaromir Jagr was brought onto the Devils not too long after the defection of Kovalchuk. He said he felt that situation was more of a reason to sign there. Jagr brings 1,688 career points and some much-needed offensive prowess. He isn't the juggernaut that he used to be, but he can still put the puck in the net at 41-years old. He plans to be a vital cog in what all Devils fans hope is a playoff-caliber squad in 2014. If things don't work out for the Devils and Jagr, maybe the team can recoup that first-round pick they lost in a trade at the deadline.
4. Will The Defense Stick With Veterans, Or Go With Young Guys?
The Devils' defense is in an in-between stage right now. They have very good prospects that are NHL-ready, but they have skilled veterans that have a lot to still give the team. They don't want to stunt a prospect's growth and make him frustrated and keeping him in the minors, but at the same time they don't want to lose games based on too many rookie mistakes that veterans wouldn't commit. Training camp is going to say a lot about where the team goes on this issue. They already helped the log jam that was the back six when they traded away Henrik Tallinder. Is it time to maybe trade another? Who could you actually get value from? Mark Fayne and Marek Zidlicky could probably bring the most based on their talent and contract (obviously besides Adam Larsson and Andy Greene, who aren't getting traded). Alexander Urbom, Jon Merrill and Eric Gelinas are ready to make their names known past the Devils insiders. This is something Devils fans need to watch over all season.
3. How Will The Special Teams Play?
Two seasons ago, the Devils' penalty kill was record-breaking. Their penalty kill percentage was 89.6, better than any other recorded percentage. Not only that, but they also scored 15 shorthanded goals. They even had an above-average power play with over 17 percent converted. It was that which brought them all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Last season, their power play percentage went down to 21st and their penalty kill went from no. 1 to 16th in the league. They need to get much closer to those 2011-12 numbers if they are going to have a chance. They may not have the most talent, but they are great defensively and they need to take advantage when they are up a man.
2. How Will The Devils Deal With The Goalie Situation?
Schneider brings his impeccable goaltending abilities to a place where they have been used to watching them. The Devils fans have been used to watching Martin Brodeur between the pipes for the last 20 seasons. As much as it will be weird to see someone else in net, Schneider is a good transition. So how do you deal with it now? It is possibly Brodeur's final season in the NHL. You don't want to bench him in his final season. That said, he hasn't exactly been the key to consistency the past year. He was phenomenal to start the season, but after returning from a back injury, he just wasn't the same. The Devils have the most back-to-back games in the NHL, so that will make for some easy decisions. It is how they deal with the other 38 games that will be interesting. Brodeur will most likely get a slight advantage with Lou Lamoriello coming out this week and proclaiming Schneider a great "1A", but it sure feels good to have him backing up this season.
1. How Will They Replace Their Loss Of Scoring?
Between the many news sites, sports blogs, Facebook updates and Twitter posts, everyone in the world knows that the New Jersey Devils are void of scoring with the losses of Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and Clarkson. They need players like Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac to step up this season. They need offseason acquisitions Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder and Jagr to work out. They really need to score as much as possible on the power play. It is no secret that this season will lean on the defense, but they need to score at some point. They don't need five goals a game. They just need to not be completely anemic on offense like they were last season.
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