Be careful what you wish for, New Jersey Devil fans. The Devils got the players they sought last season at the trade deadline and the player they negotiated throughout the summer with, but at what cost?
The Devils have their man: 27-year old forward Ilya Kovalchuk. But they also have salary cap headaches and plenty of future repercussions.
Entering training camp New Jersey is nearly $5 million over the salary cap. Moves will have to be made, and that is not exactly an ideal situation for veterans who are looking over their shoulders or for management who is watching as the season is quickly approaching.
One of those veterans with plenty of job security is 38-year old goalie Martin Brodeur, still the staple of this team.
New Jersey has won four out of the last five Atlantic Division titles and those four titles have only resulted in two playoff series wins. It reached the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2006 and 2007, but it has been one-and-done in the postseason the last three years.
The regular season success and postseason failures have been staples of New Jersey hockey over the course of the last five years. Kovalchuk appeared to be that missing piece New Jersey needed, but his midseason acquisition did little to get New Jersey over the hump and into the second round of the playoffs. The No. 2 seed-Devils were ousted in five games by the Philadelphia Flyers.
The New Jersey Devils schedule opens with a home game against Dallas on Friday night, Oct. 8. They will be tested right away with a road trip to Washington for the second game of the season and follow that up two nights later with a home game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Eight games into the season the Devils embark on their longest road trip of the season. The six-game road trip starts just across the border against the Rangers and stretches to the West Coast and finishes against the Stanley Cup champion Black Hawks.
Rookie coach John MacLean takes over for the retired Jacques Lemaire. In terms of players, it was the Kovalchuk move that grabbed all the headlines, but it certainly was not the only one or the last one. With the Devils needing to get under the salary cap more moves are on the way.
MacLean has promised a more offensive-minded scheme, but defense seems to still be a priority as evidenced by the additions of free agent defenseman Anton Volchenkov and Henrik Taillinder. Brodeur’s new backup is the more than capable Johan Hedberg.
New Jersey Devils Predictions: Outlook
Devil fans have found that regular season success is no indication of what could happen in the postseason. But they not want to count this regular season as a foregone conclusion. The Atlantic Division appears to be strong with the Penguins and Flyers both carrying more talent as a collective whole than New Jersey.
MacLean brings with him a great offensive mind, but can he teach old dogs new tricks? The Devils have built a reputation with their defense, and now sensing Brodeur’s career winding down they have a newfound sense of urgency that has them seeking more offense. The results will likely be nowhere near last season’s 48-27-7 results.
New Jersey Devils Futures Odds
Devils are +300 to win the Atlantic Division (behind the Penguins who are -150). The Devils are +800 to win the Eastern Conference and +1500 to win the Stanley Cup. Their season win total ‘over/under’ is 47.5. Odds are courtesy of BetUS.
NHL Predictions for New Jersey Devils
The Devils could be in store for a down year with an aging roster and salary cap issues that will force management’s hands. A playoff berth appears to be a lock, but reaching 48 wins will not come easy.
A solid wager could be made on the Devils ‘under’ 47.5 total wins.
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