2014 New Jersey Devils Predictions and NHL Futures Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 10/1/2014
Like watching old dudes play hockey? Then this is the team for you. Jaromir Jagr, who will be 43 before the season ends, is the senior member of the squad, but at least a dozen potential roster members are in their 30s. In fact, for the most part this roster is either too old or too young - not an ideal mix. The good news at least is that some of the old guys still have some game, and some of the young guys are really talented. If everything were to go just right then this team has a chance to be a playoff contender. If the geezers look like geezers, though, then it could be a third straight long, painful season in New Jersey.
One old guy who won't be around is Martin Brodeur. For the first time since 1993 Brodeur won't be between the pipes for this squad. One of the greats of the sport is retired - well, technically an unrestricted free agent, but it is likely just a matter of time. It will be very odd to watch the Devils without seeing him, but the time was right. Cory Schneider is good, and for the first time in his career he gets to be the unquestioned No. 1 with no superstar peering over his shoulder. He should be up to the challenge - and he'll have to be to keep this team on track.
One of the young guys who could be poised for a strong year is Adam Henrique. He was a finalist for Rookie of the Year in 2012 but has struggled to regain that form for the last two years. He showed flashes of progress last year, though, and at 24 he could be ready to really grow into himself. His development will be key to the squad. The big problem the team has, though, is that while Henrique had 43 points last year, no other player under 28 reached 30 points.
New Jersey Devils Offseason Moves
There were just a few moves made, but they were largely good ones. Scott Clemmensen was brought in from Florida to replace Brodeur and back up Schneider. Besides Brodeur, the only significant departures were on defense - Anton Volchenkov was bought out, and Mark Fayne left to Edmonton as a free agent. That opens up room for three youngsters who are 23 or younger - Eric Gelinas, Adam Larsson and Jon Merrill -- to step in and play full time after playing most of the time in the AHL last year. Two additions were made up front to boost some pretty limp offensive production. Mike Cammalleri finished the season strong in Calgary and was a coveted free agent. Martin Havlat is four years removed from what you would call a good offensive season, but he's only 33 and should be valuable if he can stay healthy. He'll likely wind up on the second line in a good spot for him, while Cammalleri could spend time with Jagr on the top line.
Center John Quenneville, the second cousin of Chicago coach Joel, was New Jersey's first-round pick in this year's NHL Draft. He has been returned to his junior club for the year - he's about 15 years too young to fit in on this squad.
New Jersey Devils NHL Outlook
It would not be shocking to see the Devils make the playoffs, but it will not be an easy path. They have plenty of talent, but most of it is past its prime. I don't trust them to stay healthy or to remain at their best throughout the season. The defense is either quite old or really young, and issues are inevitable there. The goaltending is a pure strength at least. They could be in the mix for a wild-card spot, but I sure wouldn't bet my mortgage on them getting one.
New Jersey Devils Schedule
By Dec. 15 this team will have played 32 games. Twenty-one of those games will be played on the road. That will be an advantage in the long run because a lot of later games will be at home. It's a rough way for a marginal team to start the year, though - if they aren't in form they could really fall into a deep hole.
New Jersey Devils NHL Futures Odds (from Sportsbook.ag)
The Devils sit at +6000 to win the Stanley Cup , which puts them just barely out of the top third of the league - they are ahead of 10 teams. They are in a four-way tie for 11th in the race to win the Eastern Conference at +3000. The fact that they are tied with Florida, Ottawa and the Islanders reinforces just how much of a fringe contender they are right now - none of those other teams are harboring real dreams of glory this season. They are the seventh team in the eight-team Metropolitan Division at +3000. The fact that the odds suggest that they are as likely to win the division as the conference is telling.
2014-15 New Jersey Devils Predictions
I don't like the make-up of this team. They aren't going to be durable, and if things go wrong they will have to rely on some really young players. The defense in particular is a concern this year. I just don't see them making the playoffs. Frankly, finishing in the Top 10 in the conference would be a victory in my eyes.
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