The New Jersey Devils franchise has been a lot of things in the past. They have been a defensive juggernaut. They have been one of the hardest hitting teams in the league. They have been Stanley Cup Champions. One thing they haven’t been associated with is a fun team to watch.
Even when the Devils had superstars Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk on the same team, it was still business as usual. Their schemes were still based on two-way play and a lot of forechecking. Now, as a fan, that Stanley Cup Finals run of 2012 was as fun as any to watch, but the rest of the hockey world may not have thought the same thing.
This season will be a different Devils team. Prior to this season, they were one of the oldest teams in the league. This season, there are only seven players over the age of 30, including 39-year-old Patrik Elias. Their forward unit now has as much talent and youth as their defensive crop; starting from the top with Adam Henrique, who seems like he has been in the league for a decade already. He is only 25 years old and already shows he can carry the team’s offense when necessary. There is the recently acquired Kyle Palmieri, whose draft-day trade fell under the radar for many. He provides a really good wing to the second line. He is only 24, and he will only get better with a more established role.
Two of the biggest X-factors to this season will be Reid Boucher and Pavel Zacha. Boucher is almost a lock to make the roster this season. He’s had a rough start to his professional career, but this preseason, he has shown the butterflies are gone and he can be a real scoring threat. Zacha is in an interesting place. He fell into the Devils’ laps at six in the draft. Now, he looks like he could be the sleeper pick of the draft. His skill and size are something the Devils have been missing.
The defense’s youth has been established. They have five amazing players on the blue line under the age of 25. Adam Larsson looks like he is ready to become a superstar defenseman now that he has a coach who is ready to play him. Larsson never worked under Peter DeBoer for some reason. Now, he has everything going for him.
Speaking of the coach, John Hynes is only going to help with how much fun this team is to watch. Hynes is a rookie coach, which means he is willing to take some chances. He doesn’t have a routine, which could make for a good thing.
This team is going to be fun to watch. They might not win very often, but you can see the wins are going to come in the near future.