Five Important Questions on the New Jersey Devils
The NHL started doing a summer roundup of all the teams in the league recently. When the New Jersey Devils’ chance to be put under the microscope came up, NHL.com staff writer, Mike G. Morreale, posed five questions to be considered about this upcoming Devils campaign. Morreale laid out the facts in his article under the questions; I will answer them here.
Yes. Schneider has been ready for his chance for some time now, especially after backing up Roberto Luongo in Vancouver for so long, and then sharing time with Brodeur last year. Having never played a full season before, Schneider will be fresh and ready to go, determined to not only prove that he’s a long term number one, but to show that he’s Brodeur’s rightful successor. He proved his worth in small doses last year with good numbers. Taking into account that the Devils struggled offensively last year and improved in the offseason, his win-loss numbers should look even better, matching his terrific goals against average.
Almost no doubt about it, Cammalleri will be a top line guy to start the year. Pairing him with Jaromir Jagr and Travis Zajac means Cammalleri will get a lot of space on the ice to work. Cammalleri is a versatile skater who can play wing and center — when the Devils decide it is time to switch up lines, for whatever reason, you will see Cammalleri get involved with lots of different pairings. I think it will greatly increase their offensive output.
Havlat might get a chance with fellow Czech Patrik Elias, and why not? According to Morreale’s article, “The two played on the same line in Znojmo in the Czech Republic during the 2004-05 work stoppage, and represented their country at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and the 2011 IIHF World Championship.”
Elias and Havlat are familiar with each other, and experience is always crucial when putting lines together. Players who know where their line mates are on the ice without having to even look is a huge advantage. I do hope we see an all-Czech line at some point, with Elias, Jagr, and Havlat called the “Czeching” line.
3. Will Jagr pick up where he left off in 2013-14?
Yes. As long as he is healthy, he will absolutely continue to play well. Last year, he was the go-to guy in New Jersey, and now he has help. Cammalleri and Havlat will relieve the pressure Jagr felt to do everything (though he did it well), and it will help keep him playing strong next season.
The potential here is through the roof if they can get to it. They all had some sort of experience with the Devils last season. Some longer than others — 60 games for Gelinas, 52 for Merrill, 26 for Larsson— so if the Devils can keep them healthy and in the lineup all season, we will see a rise in their performances. The Devils’ defense will be one of the better ones in the league with these three in it.
5. Will the Devils have better luck in the shootout in 2014-15?
Odds are in their favor! The power of numbers would suggest that the Devils (who used to be one of the better shootout-scoring teams in the NHL) will come back around to being good at shootouts again. They went 0-13 last year, scoring only four goals in total. Adding Cammalleri and Havlat, and some new offensive faces from Albany, will give more options for shooters (Cammalleri went two for six in the shootout last year). The Devils would have made the playoffs if they won about half of last season’s shootouts, so improving will be a point of emphasis this season.