Who Is Hot And Who Is Not Going Into New Jersey Devils Camp
New Jersey Devils: Who Is Hot And Not Coming Into Training Camp
The New Jersey Devils have been well documented the past two offseasons for the players who have left their team. Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and David Clarkson are the highest-profile losses. They also lost Petr Sykora and Alexei Ponikarovsky the past two offseasons. This article isn't going to be about that.
This is going to be about the team they have now. They have new additions and a very good defense. They seem to be moving back toward the old style of Devils hockey.
Players can be hot going out of the season and bring that fire back into the next season. Then there are the players who had a bad ending and that gets into their heads. Who is hot and who is not, like everything in sports, is not an exact science. Some players could be hot and then inexplicably go scoreless for five games. On the other side, a cold player could out of nowhere score a hat trick. Take this list with somewhat of a grain of salt.
Either way, these next six players are going to be important. The "hot" ones need to stay that way to keep the Devils in the playoff hunt. The "cold" ones need to play much better than they have to be productive on this team. The Devils need to win games as a team, and a team is only as good as your weakest player. Everyone needs to be at 100 percent this season.
The Devils have an uphill battle this season after missing the playoffs for the second time in three years. With no first-round pick this season, there is that much more of a drive to be a very good team throughout. These are six players who are moving in different directions coming into the season.
Hot: Patrik Elias
Patrik Elias once again had a great season for the Devils last season. They rewarded him with a three-year extension. He had 36 points on the season. He acquired a plus five +/- on a team that was -11 in goal differential. He may have been the most important player on the team last season. He has been underrated around the league his entire career. He comes into this season as the best pure scorer on the team once again. It is a lot to ask of a player in his late 30s, but he has shown he is capable of being "the guy" before. He comes into this season as hot as anyone, and that's very good news.
Not: Anton Volchenkov
Anton Volchenkov had quite possibly the worst year of his career last season. He is currently playing under a six-year, $25.5 million contract. To say he has not lived up to that contract would be an understatement. The Devils defense as a whole led the league in shots against per game. Their defense was not the reason for their struggles, but Volchenkov needs to play much better this season. He is the defensive defenseman, if you will, that this team loves to have. He could pay big dividends for them when they play so many offensive-minded teams in the Metropolitan Division. With upcoming studs like Alexander Urbom and Jon Merrill NHL-ready, players like Volchenkov really need to show they deserve a spot on this team.
Hot: Cory Schneider
Cory Schneider comes into a situation where once again questions will be asked about his playing time and what he thinks about it. Fortunately, it won't be as prevalent with the greatest goaltender of all time playing in front of him. Schneider has been brought into New Jersey to let Martin Brodeur play much less than he was needed to for years and also to be the heir apparent to his crease. He was one of the better goalies in the past three years, never having less than a .927 save percentage in that time. He is currently vying for a spot on a crowded USA hockey team, and he is said to be looking very good in camp. The Devils may have acquired the steal of the century when they got him for only a first-round pick.
Not: Travis Zajac
Travis Zajac was the first player to sign a max-length deal after the new CBA was accepted. He will go down in history for that fact. He is hoping his history doesn't include having that contract be a bust. Zajac is coming off three-consecutive disappointing seasons. He had twenty points last season, one point ahead of defenseman Marek Zidlicky. He needs to step up this season. The lockout and the pressure may have been a little much for the seventh-year pro. There are no more excuses for him this season. He has been cold since 2010 and he needs to show that he is worth the money he is getting.
Hot: Adam Larsson
Adam Larsson showed last season that he is worthy of being a top-line defender. No matter who he was paired with, himself and his linemate excelled. He came out of the season with a plus-four on a team that was -11. Between him and Andy Greene, the Devils now have two players they can build their entire defensive unit around. He isn't going to score many points, but that isn't his strong suit anyway. Larsson is going to run this defense this season and is the perfect man for the job. He is turning into exactly who they had hoped for when they drafted him fourth overall two years ago. He should finish his development and be a true superstar this season.
Not: Ryane Clowe
Devils fans were perplexed when they saw the contract that their team decided to give Ryane Clowe. Big hockey fans knew about the struggles that came with him last season while with the San Jose Sharks and New York Rangers. Fans who didn't know him too well looked at his stats and were sick when they saw a close to $5 million forward who only scored three goals. Clowe will be under the microscope from day one by these fans. He is going to need to produce right away to show he was worth signing over Clarkson. We have spoken about how he could have been a reactionary signing. He needs to make Lou Lamoriello look like he knew something we didn't.