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Devils 2014-2015 Preview

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a tough year in which the Devils missed out on the playoffs as well as losing all 13 of their shootouts, the Devils set their sights on returning to the playoffs. Having a busy off season, the Devils look retooled in every facet of the team and ready to make a run at the playoffs and the Stanley Cup.

Key Losses                                        Key Additions

Martin Brodeur                                   Mike Cammalleri

Anton Volchenkov                              Martin Havlat

Mark Fayne                                         Scott Clemmensen

Goalies

Over the offseason the Devils and legend Martin Brodeur made the mutual decision to part ways. The Devils then emphatically crowned Cory Schneider the backstop of the future by signing him to a 7 year contract extension that carries an average annual value (AAV) of $6 million. The Devils also went out and found a familiar face to back-up Schneider when they signed Scott Clemmensen to a one-year $600,000 contract. Clemmensen won the back-up job after competing with supposed AHL starter Keith Kinkaid. The decision was not easy for Coach Pete Deboer, but in the end he felt it better to have the young Kinkaid continue to mature and develop with more playing time in the AHL. Coach Deboer has been quoted in saying he hopes to see Schneider carry a workload of about 70 games in his first year as the Devils starter. With that in mind, the decision to have Clemmensen be Schneider’s back-up was clear. A workload of 70 games would leave Clemmensen with only 12 games to start, having been a back-up for Martin Brodeur in his prime Clemmensen played only 13 games (starting in only 9) in 2005-06. Schneider looks to continue his stellar play from last year when he posted a .921 save percentage, and 1.97 goals allowed average in 45 games played.

Defensemen

Coming off a season where the Devils allowed 2.45 goals per game and boasted the best penalty kill in the league, in the offseason the Devils made a youth movement. Having lost key veterans Volchenkov and Fayne, the Devils come out with a defensive corps of Salvador, Greene, Zidlicky, Merrill, Gelinas, Larsson, and Severson. In the offseason, the Devils rewarded their best defenseman Andy Greene with a 5 year $25 million deal. Although the Devils are getting younger, they are only introducing one pure rookie in Severson. During the preseason, the Devils youth looked solid and ready to step into the spotlight. Severson won a job beating out veterans Tomas Kaberle, who was on a PTO, and seventh defenseman Peter Harrold.

Forwards

With well documented struggles scoring 5 on 5 goals, the Devils set out on a mission to acquire a pure scorer. After failing to make a trade deadline deal for Mike Cammalleri, the Devils succeeded in signing the sniper to a 5 year deal with an AAV of $5 million. Another move the long time General Manager of the Devils, Lou Lamariello, made over the offseason to bolster the offense was the signing of oft injured winger Martin Havlat. Havlat signed a one year $1.5 million deal, in a low risk high reward scenario. Between the pure scoring ability of Cammalleri and the instant chemistry between Havlat and Elias, the Devils are much deeper and more potent than last year. The Devils also signed PTO Jordin Tootto to a one year deal to fill in on the fourth line. With the demotion of Steve Bernier and Ryan Carter signing in Minnesota, Stephen Gionta is the last member of the CBGB line that was so effective and a major part of the playoff run in 2012. Not only do the Devils boast a deep forward group on the 23 man roster, but they have Stefan Matteau and Reid Boucher who will likely find their way onto the NHL ice at some point this season.

Coaching Staff

Not much has changed in this department. Coach Peter Deboer received a vote of confidence at the end of last year from Lou Lamariello and looks to be focused on returning to the playoffs. He returns with 3 of his 4 assistants from last year. The returning coaches are Dave Barr, Chris Terreri, and Mike Foligno. Former Assistant Scott Stevens stepped down due to personal reasons before the start of training camp. His replacement, Tommy Albelin, was on the Albany coaching staff last year. Being a defensive coach Albelin is familiar with all the youth the Devils are featuring on the blueline. I look for the coaching staff to continue their success on special teams and for Albelin to have a great effect on the development of the young defensemen.

Overall Outlook and Prediction

After missing the playoffs in consecutive years look for the Devils to bounce back. Having missed the playoffs by only 5 points last year it is highly unlikely they will run into the bad bounces they endured last season. Going 0 for 13 in the shootout for a consecutive year seems highly unlikely, especially with the additions of Cammalleri and Havlat. The goaltending has improved with Schneider being the clear cut starter. The youth in the defensive corps will also create offense due to them being puck moving defensemen. Look for the Devils to stay out of the shootout and win more games via regulation time or overtime. The depth of the forwards will create miss matches for other teams that cannot match up their 3rd and 4th lines to the Devils quality 3rd and 4th lines. Look for Adam Henrique to continue his breaking out this season, after scoring 25 goals last year. The Devils will return to the playoffs and with a high end goalie in Schneider anything is possible in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

 

Mike Panus: PureSportsNY

Follow me on Twitter: @mpanus

 

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