Exciting and New Jersey Devils aren’t exactly words that you would normally hear in the same sentence. The organization is in a rebuild and expected to be bottom feeders for a bit. However, despite all that, it’s an exciting time for Devils fans.
The most exciting hockey in the world is being played right now. Stanley Cup Playoff hockey. However, for the New Jersey Devils, that means another season has ended in failure because they haven’t been playing for almost a month.
That doesn’t mean they are out of the news.
They occasionally get a mention when Jake Allen is mentioned due to Martin Brodeur being the Blue’s goalie coach. GM Ray Shero is going to reach out to Ilya Kovalchuk to see if he would like to return to the NHL, possibly for a sign and trade. Also, the organization has the number one overall pick in this year’s Entry Draft. That’s the first time since the organization was in Colorado that it has happened.
The team already has some pieces in place (Taylor Hall, Cory Schneider, Kyle Palmieri) and will look to add onto those with upcoming free agents, as well as prospects that are a year or two from making the jump.
Obviously, the first overall pick will make a splash. While most people except a number one overall pick to head to the NHL, the Devils shouldn’t rush who they pick. Miles Wood is an example of how well the Devils system develops players into an NHL ready skater. Yankees GM Brian Cashman, who is a Devils fan, recently compared what the two team are going through.
We’re over here with the Yankees going through our rebound, we hope and we think. We’re on a good trajectory and I think the Devils are, too. -Brian Cashman
Pavel Zacha had his first season with the Devils and it wasn’t too bad but it could have been better. However, a year in the minors could have done him well. It’s what the Devils will have to do with Michael McLeod when he joins the organization. In recent years, the Binghamton (going to have to get used to calling them that) Devils have been developing players in NHL ready players by the time they land in Newark.
When Lou Lamoriello was the ruler of all he surveyed in Jersey, there were certain ways things were done. Offseasons weren’t the flashiest. Going out and signing the big offensively powered free agent wasn’t something that happened. And when it did, things didn’t go according to plan. In his first offseason, Shero went out and traded for and then signed Kyle Palmieri. The following, he showed how hockey wisdom he has, stealing Taylor Hall from the Oilers for Adam Larsson straight up. While it might seem like a loss considering the Oilers are still in the playoffs, remember they are paying Mark Fayne NHL starting money to play for the Bakersfield Condors.
Shero isn’t afraid to make a splash in free agency and he clearly doesn’t waste time. Even though two offseasons under Shero have passed it’s still new to Devils fans. New being a name on a list of a top available player. And while next season should see the Devils end up where they were last season, it still gives one hope that once they start climbing in the standings, more and more players will want to come to New Jersey.
It Can’t Get Much Worse
Even though the Devils got the first overall pick, they didn’t have the worst season. That belong to the Colorado Avalanche. But overall, this season sucked. For the first time since 1986, the Devils finished last place in their division. It doesn’t help that teams such as Carolina, Philadelphia, and Columbus have improved drastically. Things will soon be changing in the division. Can the Islanders repeat the success they had under Doug Weight last year? Will this be the year the Hurricanes finally return to the playoffs? Can Columbus play anyone other than Pittsburgh in the first round?
All questions to be answered, but the fact is the Devils will remain in the same area standings wise, so they might have some competition for eighth if things don’t pan out.
For Devils Fans, the future is bright. Binghamton can keep molding NHL ready players, the potential for added new pieces is limitless, and the front office is one that is fearless.
While seeing the Devils play late into April/May would be nice, for now, Devils fans can kick back, and enjoy the view. Soon, honor will be restored to this once great franchise.