Chances for Young Devils
With the new NHL season just around the corner it’s another chance for the younger New Jersey Devils to make their mark on a team that can use all the youth help they can get. With departures on defense and age on offensive there is no time better than now for the kids to step up.
Anthony Smith of pucksandpitchforks.com has suggested that these players in particular will need to step up next year: Jon Merrill, Adam Larsson, Jacob Josefson, and Eric Gelinas. All four players are 23 years of age and younger and have had experience in the NHL with the Devils.
Other than Josefson these players are all defenseman, so it shows that the Devils who have an abundance of defenders under the age of 25 (seven in total) have chances for the kids to step up.
Gelinas is the “veteran” of the group having played 60 games on the Devils blue line last year, and while his offensive numbers were quite good (seven goals and 22 assists) he struggled defensively with a -3 plus minus and some bad mistakes leading to goals through the year but a second year will surely give him more opportunities to improve.
As for the other two it goes along with the second point about Gelinas in that more time might allow them to bud into solid starting defenders. With a rock in the back in Cory Schneider it will also give the kids a chance to make mistakes and not always be punished for them which makes them learn and improve.
As for Josefson, he has spent parts of the last four years in the NHL and AHL and hasn’t really blossomed into a strong point producer for the team yet. Despite his tender age of 23 this could be one of the last chances Josefson gets to show what he’s made of before the team decides they’ve seen enough. With the moves the Devils made in the offseason it should give him a chance to play on a strong line which will create space on the ice and allow for more scoring opportunities. This is a great chance for Josefson to really step into the starting lineup and create an impact.
The Devils have a good amount of veterans in the team this year so if there is ever a time for the kids to step up and be taken under a veteran’s wing it’s now. They’ll get a chance to learn and a chance to bud into quality productive NHL’ers and maybe even get a chance to score some shootout goals!