10 Bold Predictions For New Jersey Devils’ Season

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10 Bold Predictions

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Being bold in sports just comes with the job. The public expects you to go out on a limb using the facts you know and the insider information you get.

When it comes to hockey, there are some things that seem kind of random. Some players move cities and look like different players, good or bad. Sometimes an undisclosed injury happens and the player tries to play through it. Sometimes a player being out of the lineup makes the entire team look out of whack. There are some situations where luck looks like the main factors. That is why hockey can be the hardest sport to predict.

The New Jersey Devils are coming off a crazy offseason. Everyone knows what happened by now. The issues is that on paper, everyone thinks this team is going to be bad. It almost seems that they are an after thought to the rest of the league.

The fact is the Devils have looked very good this preseason. They have gone 4-2 in the preseason. They looked very good against their divisional opponents. They played well against the likes of the New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Islanders so far. Their offseason acquisitions have played very well so far. It seems like this is going to be a team that is going to contend.

That is the problem, every thing is "it seems" or "it looks like." Everything is basically a guess at this point. The way that last season started, the odds of the Devils making the playoffs was about as close to 100 percent that it could be that early in the year. They ended up not making the playoffs at all.

These are the most likely "bold" predictions for the season. They aren't random claims that are near impossible. Spoiler alert, there will be no "the Devils will go undefeated" or "Travis Zajac will break the single-season scoring record" in this article. There will, however, be some interesting things to watch for.

Nick Villano is the New Jersey Devils writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or add him to your Google profile.

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10. Best Statistical Goalies In The League

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Cory Schneider has been absolutely fabulous for the Devils this preseason. He has played in four games and has allowed one goal. That is perplexing in how good it is. Martin Brodeur seems to have had his mind elsewhere this preseason with the death of his father weighing on him. It should be something that motivates him throughout the season now that the grieving process has started. This is the best one-two punch in the NHL right now (better than Ben Schrivens and Jonathan Quick, better than James Reimer and Jonathan Berneir). They will end up either leading the league in save percentage or goals against average.

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9. Top 3 In Metropolitan Division

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Metropolitan Division is going to be the most competitive in the NHL. Because of that, the Devils are going to sneak into that number three spot in the division. They are completely different than every other team in this division in that they are built around defense and goaltending. They play teams that build around Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Claude Giroux, among others, while they build around the back end. The contrast in style from the rest of the division will be hard for everyone else to adjust to.

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8. Jaromir Jagr Will Play 75 Games

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Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

The hockey world is watching closely as everyone waits to see Jaromir Jagr's first game in a Devils uniform. He missed every preseason game with hip and back issues. That is a bad sign for the start of the season. Why be optimistic about him playing 75 games then? If you take the percentage of games he has played since returning to the NHL in 2011, it amounts to over 90 percent. That percentage over an 82 game season gives you 75. He wants to continue to play in the league beyond this season and will need to stay healthy to convince anyone. He is extremely motivated to play an many games as possible.

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7. Adam Henrique Will Get 60 Points On The Season

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Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

No matter where Adam Henrique plays, he is going to play with a talented line. Whether he is playing center with Michael Ryder and Ryane Clowe or playing wing with Zajac and Patrik Elias, he is going to have plenty of players to give the puck to who can put it in the net. He seems to have found his scoring touch, but last season he couldn't get the assists he got in his rookie season. He will be able to put it together this season.

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6. Michael Ryder Will Score 30 Goals

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Ryder knows one thing more than anything, and that is how to score when it is needed most. Of his 213 career goals, 40 are game winners. He plays to the strengths of his team and tries to eliminate their weaknesses. The Devils will need him to be a goal scorer to be successful. He was on pace for 27 goals last year in a season he was traded and had to move nearly 1,800 miles. He will play much better this season knowing he is staying put. With so many players on this team that are so good at setting guys up, Ryder will get to 30 goals easily.

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5. Adam Larsson Will Become A Top 10 Defenseman

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Larsson looked like he was going to make certain strides last season, but he struggled at times. The entire defense had some bonehead plays and it seemed like the lockout-shortened season really affect the entire unit. This preseason, Larsson has looked phenomenal. He looks like he is ready to be the leader on this defense. Pairing him with Andy Greene provides a great contrast in styles that makes them both look very good. Larsson will be looked at as one of the most important pieces on the Devils.

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4. Will Once Again Allow Least Shots Per Game In The NHL

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Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Like I said before, this defense was affected the most by the lockout. They seemed tired at times and out of position at others. Then there is the issue of the healthy scratches. It seemed like every night there was another guy who was watching from the press box. There was no chance of getting any chemistry. With all that, they still allowed the least amount of shots in the NHL. They ended up allowing 23 shots per game, more than a full shot ahead the next team on the list. They will be even better this season, and will duplicate the feat of leading the league in shots against.

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3. Will Average More Goals Per Game Than Last Season

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Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Devils lost their leading goal scorer last season and their franchise player in the same offseason. With that they will still turn it around and score more goals per game than last season. It won't be too hard being that they scored a putrid 2.29 goals per game last season.

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2. Ryane Clowe Will Have A Better Season Than David Clarkson

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

This is a bold prediction because Clowe is an injury risk. He tries to play through them, but his game is severely reduced. David Clarkson is playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs after he took a large contract from them. He has already made a bonehead move and is now suspended for the first ten games. Clowe will play with talented lines and will know his role. Clarkson now believes he is a scorer instead of a grinder. His identity crisis will make the Devils look good for choosing Clowe over him, even if he was going to Toronto either way.

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1. The Team Will Make A Big Trade Midseason

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Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

There is talk everywhere about people moving around. Trades usually don't go down preseason because owners want their fans excited for the season. Once teams are out then they try to get some value out of expiring contracts. The Devils will try to bring in a big name at some point during the season. Lou Lamoriello works the trade market very well.

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