A look at the upcoming season.
Posted 07-05-2008 at 05:23 PM by halifas
This was already posted to the discussion of the East on the boards, but I havent posted to my blog in a while.
I love how no one is giving the Devils much of a shot... again.
New Jersey finally has a deep line up in the forward position, with the likes or Elias, Gionta, Rolston, Parise, Langenbrunner, Zubrus, and Zajac/Holik. We have Madden and Pandolfo, tied with Datsyuk and Zetterberg (and maybe Pahlsson/Niedermayer) as the best defensive forward duo in the entire league. We have the youngsters in Clarkson and Pelley, and hopeful newcomers in Bergfors and Vrana, both who have shown promise at one time or another.
On defense, its a little less deep, but with the excellent development of the younger guys last season, it can only be better this season. No doubt the Devils would benefit form another veteran presence (possible Schneider), White, Martin, and Salvador form a pretty good starting for the blue line, Johnny Oduya, who developed incredibly well last season, looks to be the number 4 guy. Guys like Andy Greene, Sheldon Brookbank, Mike Motteau, and Mark Fraser have shown signs of being able to secure 5-6 roles for certain in the past two seasons. Two promising guys, one coming out of juniors and the other out of college, Matt Corrente and Tyler Eckford, have both proved themselves eventually worthy of spots on the team at previous training camps, and this year looks to be that time for a t least one of them.
And of course, in the net, you have Martin Brodeur. Nothing needs to be said about him. He's still the best in the game right now. no matter what. Weekes, who is still a very reliable goalie, finally looks to be getting seven-fifteen (hopefully) starts this season, more than half of which I am sure he can win.
Granted, neither the offense or the defense is the best in the East, but it can be formidable. Elias can definitely put up 70-80 points if pared with the right people, and Gionta can score 30+ if paired with the right center. Rolston is a proven 30 goal scorers, and the line of Parise, Zajac, and Langenbrunner has shown incredible chemistry in their first season together two seasons ago. That leaves the checking line of Pandolfo, Madden, and Clarkson. And then theres the other (not 4th, I remind you) forward line of Zubrus, Holik, and either Rupp, Bergfors, or Vrana. Zubrus, Holik, and Rupp are all big, strong, tough guys who can definitely bring energy, presence in the corners, and a fear of crossing the opposing blue line. But they can also score many goals and put up many points. The will definitely provide secondary scoring.
So I give the Devils a very good chance to compete for the conference title. Until the last few weeks of this last season, the Devils were fighting with Montreal and Pittsburgh for the top spot. With a better lineup this year, whats to say New Jersey doesnt claim the Eastern Conference top spot?