Training Camp With The Devils
Article Written By Double G Sports Contributing Writer, Andrew Timoni.
By: Andrew Timoni
Here I will discuss the noteworthy players in this year’s camp who may have a shot to make the team along with my predictions about who actually will be in the lineup opening night.
It’s a brainless fact that Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg will be the goalies suiting up in New Jersey this season. Hedberg’s signing is a hint that Marty may actually play fewer games this season. But yes, we’ve heard that before. Either way, the Devils will have one of the best goaltenders in the league in net with one of the better backups on the bench.
Jeff Frazee and Mike McKenna are penciled in as the starters in Albany but there is certainly a possibility for change. The Devils drafted two goaltenders in this year’s draft which is something they have not done in a long time. Maxime Clermont and Scott Wedgewood are now the youngest goalies in the system. It is certainly possible that Lou Lamoriello took a chance to see if he could find Martin Brodeur’s eventual replacement in the draft. Mike McKenna is not an NHL starter and Jeff Frazee has not progressed as it was originally thought he would.
Prediction: Martin Brodeur, Johan Hedberg
As the roster stands right now, Anton Volchenkov, Henrik Tallinder, Andy Greene, Colin White, and Bryce Salvador are going to be in the opening night lineup. That leaves one spot open for players such as Mark Fraser, Alexander Urbom, Matt Corrente, Tyler Eckford, and Anssi Salmela. Newly drafted Eric Gelinas will get a look but will most likely not remain in New Jersey. The Devils seem to be very high on Alexander Urbom. At under 20 years old last year, he played in a preseason game with the Devils and looked very mature for his age. Anssi Salmela has been placed on Long Term Injury Reserve and will not be ready until two or so months into the season.
The big question is “Who will be traded?” The Devils need to clear between 3 and 6 million in cap space before the season starts in order to get under the cap with a full roster. From this defensive group, I believe Bryce Salvador will be traded. At 2.9 million without a no-trade clause, he will be the easiest to trade. If Colin White did not have his no-trade clause, I could see him leaving. If Alex Urbom progresses in camp like it seems the coaches and management want him to, the spot will be his to lose. Taking Salvador’s spot will be Matt Corrente. He has shown speed and a willingness to be physical and stand up for teammates. This year, for sure, the Devils will be a much tougher team to play against than last year.
Prediction: Anton Volchenkov-Andy Greene, Henrik Tallinder-Alex Urbom, Colin White-Matt Corrente
Ilya Kovalchuk officially being a Devil gives this lineup a HUGE scoring threat in addition to the likes of Zach Parise and Patrik Elias. The offseason trade-acquired Jason Arnott also fills a large hole at center where a big center was sorely needed. There are four forwards in camp this year that will be interesting to watch. The team brought over Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby with hopes that they would be comfortable, jump right in, and play themselves into spots in the lineup. Also, Adam Mair and Marcus Nilson are training camp try-outs. I presume that Nilson and Mair will fight for a contract in order to be the fourth or third line center. They could also be cheap replacements for anyone that ends up getting traded. The forwards that will be fighting for spots this year are Mattias Tedenby, Jacob Josefson, Marcus Nilson, Adam Mair, Rod Pelley, Pierre Leblond, Vladimir Zharkov, Alex Vasyunov, Nick Palmieri, and a very young Adam Henrique.
Again, trades have to be made in order to put the Devils back under the cap. Brian Rolston is the name most mentioned in trade rumors; mostly because many fans want him gone. He has also not lived up to the expectations that he brought from Minnesota two years ago when he signed a large four year contract valued at 5.025 million per year. Patrik Elias’ name has also been brought up in trade rumors because just like Rolston, he alone would solve the salary cap problem by being dealt. This is also not a viable solution as Patrik is VERY valuable to this team. His 6 million dollar cap hit won’t be the easiest to move and he also has a complete no-movement-clause. Jamie Langenbrunner would be a valuable asset to another club looking to add a skilled veteran. However, he is the captain and is also valuable to the Devils and he will stay. Note: I want to pull my hair out every time someone mentions that Travis Zajac could be traded. It won’t happen. The odd man out becomes Dainius Zubrus. His cap hit of 3.4 million will be easier to move than Rolston’s or Elias’. He is also a big and strong versatile player that can play any forwards position. He is great along the boards and has been stepping up consistently in the playoffs. Dealing Zubrus brings me to my prediction of the forwards group:
This lineup has great depth. It seems that Coach McLean will be looking to find the right combinations and stick with them. Last year when Coach Lemaire refused to stick with a line combination for more than five shifts, it really tore the team apart.
So Devils fans, would you be happy with this lineup on opening night?
Zach Parise-Travis Zajac-Jamie Langenbrunner
Ilya Kovalchuk-Jason Arnott-Patrik Elias
Brian Rolston-Jacob Josefson-David Clarkson
Rod Pelley-Marcus Nilson-Vladimir Zharkov
Anton Volchenkov-Andy Greene
Henrik Tallinder-Alex Urbom
Colin White-Matt Corrente
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