Devils shoot down Jets en route to 2-1 shootout victory


Devils' forward Jacob Josefson scores the only goal in the shootout to propel the Devils to a 2-1 shootout victory over the Jets

Devils’ forward Jacob Josefson scores the only goal in the shootout to propel the Devils to a 2-1 shootout victory over the Jets

Written by Tommy Zilinski

It’s official, the curse is finally lifted. On the 600th day since their last shootout win on March 10, 2013, the New Jersey Devils have won in a shootout, defeating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1! Blake Wheeler opened the scoring for the Jets just about 7 minutes into the first period on a breakaway, just barely able to squeak the puck between Devils goaltender Cory Schneider’s left pad and the post.

Michael Ryder was able to tie the game for New Jersey on his 2nd goal of the season with just 3:27 remaining in regulation. Ryder received a pass at the top of the circles from Jon Merrill, who was down in the left corner, and took it in towards the net. Ryder dangled around Jets defenseman Mark Stuart, was hooked down after he got past him, and as he was falling to his knees, roofed one top shelf over the left shoulder of Andrej Pavelec. The Prudential Center crowd erupted.

This was a very physical game right from the get-go. Notable hits were thrown by the likes of Andy Greene, who hip-checked Mark Scheifele into the Devils’ bench door, and Adam Larsson. Jon Merrill was leveled by Dustin Byfuglien, among countless other hits from the game.

Jaromir Jagr had two glorious opportunities to end the game in the final seconds of regulation, as well as in overtime. He had a great wrist shot that was gloved down by Pavelec in the closing seconds of regulation, and was also denied by the pad of Pavelec on a partial breakaway.

In the shootout, the Devils sent out Damien Brunner as the first shooter, who took it in and rang one off the right pipe. Blake Wheeler shot first for the Jets, and was denied by Schneider. Up next was another unlikely candidate for New Jersey: Jacob Josefson, who had a beautiful breakaway goal in the last game against the Penguins. Josefson threw a head-fake, did a forehand-backhand deke, got Pavelec down and out, then wristed a shot forehand into the top of the open cage. Andrew Ladd looked to tie the game for the Jets, but was also turned away by Schneider. Patrik Elias looked to seal the win for New Jersey, but again Pavelec had the answer. Bryan Little was the third and final shooter for the Jets, looking to keep his team alive, but missed the net. If you thought the Prudential Center crowd was loud after Ryder’s goal, you should have heard it after the shootout victory.

All in all, it was a very physical game for the Devils. The team looked good after they were trying to rebound from a poor performance in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. Getting their first shootout win after 18 failed attempts was a great way to rebound. What were your thoughts on the game? What were the pros? Cons? What can the team do next game to build off of this win? Who were your three stars? Give us your complete thoughts!

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There’s reason to be optimistic after the Devils 8-3 loss to the Penguins


Jacob Josefson scores on a shorthanded breakaway goal on Tuesday's 8-3 loss against the Penguins. (Photo by Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)

Devils’ forward Jacob Josefson scores a shorthanded breakaway goal on Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury in Tuesday’s 8-3 loss against the Penguins (Photo by Peter Diana/Post-Gazette).

Written by Tommy Zilinski

The Devils are coming off of an embarrassing yet “humbling” 8-3 blowout defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Devils fans took to social media to voice their frustrations after the Devils let a 3-1 lead slip away midway through the second period, and allowed the Penguins to score 7 unanswered goals. This was perhaps the Devils most disgusting game yet, as they allowed 3 power play goals against on 7 opportunities, and failed to capitalize on 3 of their own power plays.

Jersey’s team was out-played in every aspect of the game. They were out-shot 33-19, out-hit 33-21, went 22/55 in the faceoff dot, and were heavily outscored as well. All around, it was a horrible game and the Devils deserved to get thrashed around like rag dolls out there.They looked like a minor league team, and not even THEIR minor league team, who has been tearing up the AHL.

I could go on and on about the negatives, but I, personally, am an optimist. I love to see the good in anything and take out whatever positives I can because looking back on the negatives, in anything, is going to do nothing but hurt you. So, let’s try to find some positives from this game, and there are a couple.

The penalty kill had some life

The Devils went 3/7 on penalty kills. That’s pretty bad, but one of those goals came on a five-on-three, which against this Penguins team is to be expected. However, the light in the dark here was that the Devils recorded their first shorthanded goal of the season, and a beautiful one at that. Center Jacob Josefson, of all people, was out on the penalty kill, swiped a loose puck through the legs on Evgeni Malkin and was off to the races. He regained the puck at center ice, was all alone, and did a pretty forehand-backhand deke and ultimately roofed one backhand past poor Marc-Andre Fleury, who went looking for his jockstrap somewhere in the 5th row.

Goals from unlikely players

The Devils’ 3 goals were recorded by a under-performed top line player who really belongs on the third line (Dainius Zubrus), and two fourth liners in Jacob Josefson and Tuomo Ruutu. Zubrus lit the lamp 9 seconds into the hockey game, after a quick wrist shot deflected off of a defender’s stick and up into the top right corner of the cage. Josefson’s goal came on a shorthanded breakaway, as mentioned above, and Tuomo Ruutu pounded home a rebound from a Stephen Gionta wrist shot.

If you had told me prior to this game that Zubrus, Josefson and Ruutu were going to score tonight, I would have laughed in your face.

The top defensive pairing looked great

The top defensive pairing of Andy Greene and Damon Severson were two of the only players who I thought actually played a half decent game. Greene finished at a plus-3 and Severson broke even. Considering they were out there a good amount and against top players, that isn’t bad at all.

We could see Adam Larsson in the next game

Now I don’t know this for sure, but I would assume that there is a good chance that Adam Larsson could play his second game of the season tomorrow night against the Jets. Jon Merrill played a horrendous game, being a -5 for the Devils. He has looked shaky in a good number of games this season, and I think Pete DeBoer is starting to realize that. Hopefully Merrill can have a game or two to get his head together, and Adam Larsson will get his opportunity to hop into the lineup and make a difference.

This was the wake-up call the Devils needed

Every now and again, you need a good foot up the rear-end to make yourself conscious and aware of your mistakes. The Devils poor performance could be a good indicator to them of just how badly they need to improve their game, including stopping taking such horrible penalties (holding and too many men penalties SHOULD NOT be taken in a game). All the players can learn from their mistakes. When they go back and re-watch the tapes, which I hope they do A LOT of, they will realize the aspects of their game that really need to be fixed and it’s up to the coaching staff to get that done.

I was going to use some fan comments in this article, but after scrolling through all of the comments from last night, most of them were all “fire DeBoer” or “sit Salvador” or something along those lines. Kind of redundant and not really necessary in a piece that focuses on optimism.

What other positives could you take out of the Devils loss to the Pens? Leave your thoughts below or share them with us on our facebook and Twitter!

What Reid Boucher needs to do to stay in New Jersey


Reid Boucher will make his season debut tonight against the Peguins. (Photo by AP/Julio Cortez)

Reid Boucher will make his season debut tonight against the Peguins. (Photo by AP/Julio Cortez)

Written by Tommy Zilinski

Earlier Tuesday morning, the Devils announced that off-season acquisition Mike Cammalleri, who is tied for second place on the team in points with 7 and leads the team in goals (5), will not be traveling with the team to Pittsburgh for their game tonight against the Penguins due to a jaw injury. The Devils did not disclose the results of X-rays that Cammalleri received yesterday.

Yesterday, the Devils recalled Reid Boucher to fill the void left by Cammalleri. We briefly touched upon Boucher’s call up yesterday, but now that it is confirmed that he will play tonight, we can look at what Boucher has to do to force the coaches to keep him in the New Jersey lineup, even after the injury bug has passed.

The 21-year-old Reid Boucher, who will wear number 18, will be skating on a line with Adam Henrique and Michael Ryder. During the preseason, this line performed exceptionally well. Boucher, who lost a couple of pounds during the off-season, was flying up and down the ice and was making a big impact on the Devils forecheck. He was buzzing around the net, creating opportunities himself left and right and was also setting up his teammates for glorious scoring opportunities. In my opinion, when this line was together during the preseason, they were the best line on the ice for the Devils.

Linemates play a huge role in determining how a player performs. With Ryder and Henrique, Boucher has a good opportunity to flaunt his offensive skills. After the winger put up 62 goals and 95 points in 68 games for the Sarnia Sting in 2012-13, the Devils and their fans had high expectations for the young Boucher. He has not performed as well as some have hoped so far in his young professional career, but there is still plenty of time for him to turn it around. If he stays on this line, he will have plenty of opportunities to rack up the points.

Obviously, in order to stay in New Jersey, Boucher is going to need to produce. Even if he doesn’t rack up goals, assists are just as good. If he can’t find a way to get himself on the scoresheet, but he can set up goals or good plays with his teammates, that will suffice too. He’s going to have to find a way to have a positive impact with his linemates and get scoring opportunities every time he is on the ice. He’s a goal scorer, so if he isn’t scoring goals or setting them up, he will find himself back in Albany.

Earlier in the preseason, Devils head coach Pete DeBoer hinted that Boucher needed to have a better work ethic, and cited formed Devils captain Zach Parise.

“And for me with him, it’s just having that workmanlike mentality. Whether he’s playing on a first line or fourth line, he has to bring that workmanlike mentality. I told him that was the beauty of Zach Parise. He was a first line player with a fourth line work ethic. I think Reid could take some notes from that.”

Based off of this, it is clear that the Devils are looking for him to work harder in all ends of the ice. His defensive game could probable use some work, but if he’s skating hard on both the backcheck and the forecheck and is making a difference at both ends of the ice, making good plays and good passes as well as getting scoring opportunities or breaking them up in the defensive zone, then there is no reason why he can’t stay with the big club.

Mike Cammalleri was playing in all roles for the Devils prior to his injury. I expect that Boucher could be thrown onto the penalty kill at some points to fill Cammalleri’s spot, and I definitely expect him to be out on the power play. To stay with the big club, Boucher is going to have to impress the coaches with his two-way game and he is going to have to make a difference on the penalty kill as well.

One of the best reasons to keep Boucher in the NHL, and something that he has proved already, is his ability to score in shootouts. The Devils went 0-13 last season in shootouts, and are 0-1 so far this season as well. They need all the help they can get with shootouts, and Boucher has been the light in the darkness when it comes to that. If any of the next few games go to a shootout, he will be one of the first 3 shooters, and he is going to have to light the lamp to stay here.

Ever since Boucher lost weight over the off-season, his speed and agility have been noticeably better. The Devils are faster this season so far, but in today’s league, you can’t have enough speed. He’s got some fresh, young legs and he is going to have to put them to use to earn his keep in New Jersey. He’s going to have to win the battles for loose pucks, beat out icing calls, use his speed to get behind defenders, and get to the dirty areas of the ice as well, like DeBoer wanted to see out of him during training camp.

To reiterate a previous point, he is going to have to light the lamp to stay here. He’s a goal scorer, the definition of him is to score goals. If he does not do his job, he isn’t going to stay in the big league. Simple as that. Put the biscuit in the basket, work hard, get to the dirty areas, use the speed, and set up teammates, and he will give the coaches a difficult decision if they want to consider sending him down.

What are your thoughts on this, Devils fans? What do you think Boucher needs to do to stay with the big club? Share them below or on our facebook or Twitter! Let us know your thoughts!

Reid Boucher recalled; Havlat, Tootoo on IR; Cammalleri gets x-rays; Larsson sits again


The Boucher-Henrique-Ryder line saw success during the preseason and are reunited again. (Photo by AP/John Minchillo)

The Boucher-Henrique-Ryder line saw success during the preseason and are reunited again. (Photo by AP/John Minchillo)

Written by Tommy Zilinski

Local media at the AmeriHealth Pavilion had a bit of a surprise when 21-year-old Reid Boucher stepped on the ice for the Devils noon practice on Monday, donning the number 18 on his helmet. The Michigan native was skating at left wing on a line with Adam Henrique and Michael Ryder during practice. That line was together during the preseason and looked mighty fierce, especially on the forecheck and in the offensive zone. Boucher leaves the red-hot Albany Devils, where he posted a goal and 3 assists through 6 games, to join the big club as what Devils coach Pete DeBoer called “insurance” in case Mike Cammalleri is unable to play in Thursday night’s game in Pittsburgh.

Mike Cammalleri was supposedly injured on Friday night’s game against the Dallas Stars after he took an elbow to the jaw from one of either Jamie or Jordin Benn. Cammalleri played on Saturday’s game in Ottawa despite to sore jaw. Today, Lou Lamoriello announced that he was being sent for X-rays on his jaw. Cammalleri, who leads the Devils with 5 goals, is also due to have another child soon. Tom Gulitti of The Record asked GM Lou Lamoriello if there’s a chance that Cammy can play on Thursday night.

When i asked if it was still possible that Cammalleri will play Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, Lamoriello replied,  “Let me put it this way, if there’s any question right now either way,  he won’t. But, it was sore. He played the game against Ottawa, but it was sore.

“So, we’ll just see. He’s day to day.  … We just want to make sure he’s OK.”

If Cammalleri is unable to play in Thursday’s game, Reid Boucher will be in the lineup. Otherwise, he will be a healthy scratch.

The Devils also announced that Marty Havlat, who suffered some nasty facial lacerations earlier in the season, was placed on the IR with what they are calling a “lower body injury.” Havlat played in a game after his facial injury, but did not practice or play after that due to what the Devils said was sweat irritating his cuts. Havlat joins Jordin Tootoo, who has a bruised foot, on the IR.

Lamoriello hopes that both Havlat and Tootoo will be skating by the end of the week. They are both eligible to be activated from the IR on Wednesday.

With Boucher taking Ryane Clowe’s spot on the Devils 3rd line, Clowe was bumped up to Cammalleri’s place on a line with Patrik Elias and Damien Brunner. The Devils first (Zubrus-Zajac-Jagr) and fourth (Ruutu-Josefson-Gionta) lines remain the same.

Adam Larsson looks to be the odd man out yet again for the Devils on Thursday night. The Devils defense pairings remain the same. Greene-Severson; Salvador-Zidlicky; Gelinas-Merrill; Larsson.

Cory Schneider starts in goal tomorrow night in Pittsburgh.

What is the fate of Adam Larsson?


Photo from Pro Hockey Talk/NBC Sports

Photo from Pro Hockey Talk/NBC Sports

When the Devils selected defenseman Adam Larsson fourth overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, many fans rejoiced at the thought of having one of the next great defensemen in the NHL wearing Devils red. Larsson gave fans more reason to be optimistic when he made the team out of his first professional training camp. In his rookie season, the Skelleftea, Sweden native logged 2 goals and 16 assists through 65 games, plus an additional 5 games throughout the Devils’ run to the Stanley Cup Final in the 2011-12 season.

Larsson performed well for the Devils during his rookie season, playing in key roles for the team up until he received a crushing hit from Montreal Canadiens defenseman PK Subban on February 2, 2012 which sent him flying back-first into the boards and left him sprawled on the ice in obvious pain. That, one could argue, was a career-ruining injury. That injury had him on the injured reserve for much of the final frame of that season, or on the healthy scratch list during the season and playoffs. Ever since, Larsson has found himself “riding the pine” and watching games from the press box, or being sent to the Albany Devils of the AHL over the course of the past two seasons.

Larsson played 33 games for the Albany Devils in each of the last two seasons, logging 4 goals, 15 assists, and 19 points in his first stint with the minor league club, and 3 goals, 16 assists and 19 points in his second.

So far this season, the 21-year-old Adam Larsson has spent 7 of the team’s first 8 games watching from the press box as a healthy scratch after being forced out of the lineup by fellow young defensemen Damon Severson, Jon Merrill and Eric Gelinas. He publicly voiced his frustrations with sitting on the first day of the 2014-15 season, in an interview with Tom Gulitti of The Record.

During training camp and the preseason, Devils defenseman Adam Larsson said the one thing he didn’t want was to have to go through this season was watching games from the press box again as a healthy scratch.

“And now I’m here doing it again,” Larsson said after today’s morning skate at Wells Fargo Center.

Like Larsson, the fans are just as agitated with him not being in the lineup. The team is letting young talent and potential go to waste by having him sit out games, and many fans on our Facebook and Twitter pages have openly voiced their displeasure about sitting Larsson, who was signed to a one year, $900,000 contract over the summer.

So, now for the big question. What is the fate of Adam Larsson? Let’s delve into some of the different scenarios that could play out over the course of the season with the young defenseman.

He requests a trade

This is a pretty likely scenario. The Devils have 4 defensemen right now under the age of 25, and also have the likes of Seth Helgeson, Raman Hrabarenka, and Reece Scarlett who are quickly getting to the point being NHL-ready as well. One could argue that defensemen Bryce Salvador and Marek Zidlicky, who are knocking on the door of age 40, are in their final NHL season which would open up two more roster spots as well for young defensemen. Given his frustrations with the team over the past 2 seasons, it would not be unlikely for him to request a trade out of New Jersey.

There are plenty of teams that would be willing to trade for Larsson, especially at such a cheap price. What the Devils would demand in return is yet to be seen. He has a good defensive skill-set and is capable of making some good offensive plays as well, he can move the puck, and is a physical player. His speed seems to have declined since his back injury in 2012 and lower body injury last season. He also has some attitude problems, which is a contributing factor to why he has been benched so often.

If the Devils do decide to trade Larsson, they may get a lot less of a return than many would expect. As I said, Larsson had a lot of attitude problems in Albany, and one can assume the same for New Jersey. He has also been riddled by injuries, has constantly been a healthy scratch, has had troubles adjusting to the North American rinks, and the way that the Devils developed him has been, well, awful. For a team to take on Larsson, they would be relying on hope. They would be hoping that a change of scenery and coaching would benefit him, which in my opinion it would.

What could we expect in return? Ultimately, it depends on the team that he is dealt to. If they trade Larsson, they would have approximately $5 million in salary that they could take on. That’s not a whole lot, unless it is for another young player, prospects, or draft picks. Could Lou work his magic again and land a great deal for Larsson? Maybe it’s time. We shall see.

He leaves via free agency

This would be extremely difficult for him to do, as Larsson will still be a restricted free agent following this season. He would still be eligible to sign with another team, but the Devils would have the ability to match any other team’s offer and keep Larsson under their control. If Larsson does sign with another team over the summer, and the Devils choose not to match it, they would get some draft pick(s) in return as compensation.

Ultimately, this is an extremely unlikely case. If he wanted to leave New Jersey, his best bet would be by requesting a trade.

He signs overseas

There was a lot of talk this off-season about the Swede returning to his home country to play in the Swedish League if he could not reach a deal with the Devils. If his frustrations continue to mount over the next 74 games and he does not get the playing time that he desires, it is not out of the realm of possibility that he signs overseas. The Devils would lose him for nothing if this was the case, so you can bet that they would try everything in their power to avoid this. It is still an option for Larsson, even if it is an unlikely one at that.

He toughs it out and continues to wait for his opportunity

The last of the 4 most probable options for Adam, and the one that most fans hope he takes, is that he remains patient and cooperative until his opportunity arises. This would be the most ideal situation for the Devils as he will get more opportunities eventually and he could still prove his worth.

If he stays

What happens if Larsson does stay with the team for the season and beyond? Well, he will most likely continue to be a healthy scratch for the foreseeable future, assuming there are no injuries to any other Devils defensemen.

If and when he does get back in the lineup, who should he be paired with? When Larsson was in Albany, he performed the best with Jon Merrill. So it would be a good idea for him to play alongside #7. It is possible that he could play with Eric Gelinas, but that would require one of either Merrill or Damon Severson to come out of the lineup, and unless there is an injury, that isn’t happening.

Ultimately, Adam Larsson has bared the brunt of poorly-timed injuries and healthy scratches. His luck in Devils red has not been very good. He has become very frustrated about being a healthy scratch, and nobody knows how much patience he has left. What will become of Adam Larsson? Will he be traded out of New Jersey? Will he tough it out and wait for another opportunity, and hope to make the best of it? Will he find a way to leave after this season? Are there any other alternatives that we missed?

Leave your thoughts with us below, on our facebook page, or our Twitter. We would love to hear them!

Top 10 Free Agents the Devils Should Pursue In 2014 Offseason


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Now that the Stanley Cup Playoffs have come to a close, it is time for the league to turn their attention towards the NHL Entry Draft on June 27 & 28, and Free Agency which begins on July 1. Teams are able to begin talking with potential unrestricted free agents on June 25, but cannot make any formal offers until the first day of July.

Being as we are only a mere 16 days away from the start of the 2014 Free Agent Frenzy, let’s take a look at the top 10 players that the Devils should target, and why.

What should the Devils be looking for in free agents? Well, the Devils need scoring desperately. They need a back-up goaltender. They need leadership, and players who are good at faceoffs.

Before we get into the players, it is important to note that the Devils have roughly $14 million left to spend in salary cap this season, but still have to re-sign UFA Mark Fayne and RFA Adam Larsson, and have to consider re-signing UFA’s Ryan Carter, Steve Bernier, Stephen Gionta, Mike Sislo, and RFA Jacob Josefson. The team also has one compliance buyout remaining, which will likely be used on D Anton Volchenkov.

So, for arguments sake, let’s say the Devils buy out Volchenkov – who carries a $4.25 million cap hit – and re-sign Fayne to a $3 million per year contract, Larsson to a $2 million per year contract, Carter, Sislo and Josefson for $800,000, and maybe Gionta for roughly $600,000. That would leave Lou Lamoriello about $10.25 million left to spend on UFA’s.

Wow, lots of numbers in that last paragraph. Let’s sum that up real fast. After buying out Volchenkov and re-signing Fayne, Larsson, Carter, Sislo, Josefson and Gionta, the Devils would have roughly $10 million in cap space. Now, let’s take a look at who could end up in Jersey with that kind of money.

10. Chad Johnson

With Martin Brodeur most likely leaving via free agency, Cory Schneider will become the Devils’ undisputed #1 goaltender. However, the team will need a reliable back-up goaltender in case of an injury to Schneider, or just to give Schneider a break every now and again. That being said, the Devils have two options. They could promote from within since both Keith Kinkaid and Scott Wedgewood are NHL ready, but what good would having them rot on the bench for most of the season do for their development? The smarter – and more likely option – would be to look to free agency for a reliable wingman for Schneider.

That wingman is Bruins backup goaltender Chad Johnson. Johnson is only 27 years old, has good size (6’3″, 205lbs), and went 17-4-3 last season for the Bruins, with a 2.10 GAA, .925 save percentage, and two shutouts. For a backup goaltender that has only played 37 NHL games in his career, those are very impressive numbers.

His current contract with the Bruins is for one year, $600,000. He would come very cheap to New Jersey, roughly between $1 million and $1.5 million per season. Being as this will be Schneider’s first full season as a starting NHL goaltender and he has yet to prove himself as a starting NHL goaltender, having a reliable backup goaltender is key. Chad Johnson is the best UFA option for the Devils’ backup goaltender.

9. Steve Ott

The former Sabres’ captain would bring a lot to the Devils. Since the departures of Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, and David Clarkson, the Devils lost a lot of leadership. Steve Ott’s leadership skills would replace a decent amount of what was lost over the past couple of years.

Besides leadership skills, Ott is a very versatile forward who is capable of playing all three forward positions – something that Pete DeBoer likes to have his players do. He has a very aggressive style of play, since he loves to play physically. He is great in defensive situations, such as on the penalty kill or when the Devils inevitably shut down to defend a one goal lead late in the third period (and usually watch that lead disappear).

The downside to signing Ott is that he is not exactly a point-making machine. He only logged 23 points last season between the Blues and Sabres (9G, 14A) and was a disastrous -38 on the season.

At age 32, the 6’0″, 190lb forward could be signed for $2-3 million per season on a relatively short deal (2-3 years). Considering that he would bring physicality to the Devils – something that only Tuomo Ruutu and Ryane Clowe (when he’s healthy) will be bringing to the team if Volchenkov gets bought out – as well as leadership skills and some points, signing Ott would not be a bad investment for New Jersey.

8. David Legwand

The Devils’ management have a love for two-way players, and David Legwand is one of the best two-way forwards on the UFA market this year. The 33-year-old center recorded 51 points (14G, 37A) in his 14th NHL season, and has hit the 40-point mark 9 times during those 14 seasons. He has decent size at 6’2″ and 205lbs, and would be a good second line forward for NJ. Not only does he rack up assists, but he is also very good in the face-off dot (50.6%). Throw him out there on one of the PK units, and the league’s best penalty kill will be even better.

Legwand is the kind of player that goes out every night and gives 100 percent. His veteran presence and leadership would do wonders for the Devils locker room.

He struggled last season after being traded to the Red Wings, eventually being demoted to their fourth line. That should put a damper on his market value, and he could probably be signed for $3-3.5 million. Not a bad investment for a 40 point getter, even if he is starting to decline in play.

7. Dave Bolland

Bolland is like a combination of Steve Ott and David Legwand; he is a powerful centerman who loves to throw a big hit. He’s only 28 years old, but has two Stanley Cup rings and an abundance of playoff experience. He isn’t really renowned for putting points on the big board, although he has almost hit the twenty goal mark twice in his career.

Given how Ryane Clowe was injured for the majority of last season with two separate concussions, the end is likely near for him since his brain his most likely been almost reduced to a pile of mush. Bolland would fill the gap that Clowe would leave behind, in both leadership and grit.

Sounds great, right? Well, he did suffer a serious ankle injury that sidelined him for 59 games last season. Bolland’s performance was good before his injury, netting 8 goals and 4 assists in 23 games.

He is currently making $3.375 annually with the Leafs, so his free agent market value would be around $4 million with the discount for the uncertainty of his injury. Bolland has let it be known that he wants to remain in Toronto, but will test the waters of free agency if he is not signed before July 1. It is believed he is looking for a long-term deal.

6. Milan Michalek

The Devils desperately need scoring help. While Michalek is an average scorer, he would rank 6th on the team last season with 39 points (17G, 22A) in 82 games. He is a skilled scoring winger, and could definitely help the Devils in their shootout woes. He is not a defensive liability at all, and can cover all three zones of the ice very well. He would fit right in to the Devils’ forechecking system since he has an aggressive style of play. He’s reached the 20 goal mark five times in his career. At 6’2″, he is a gritty player, but also has good speed for a player of his size, something that the Devils are also lacking.

The bad news is that I fear Michalek may be the second coming of Michael Ryder. He is a very streaky scorer, and seldom plays a full season due to injuries.

He would be a more expensive option for New Jersey, roughly around $3-4 million annually on a mid-length deal (3-4 years).

5. Mike Cammalleri

Cammalleri’s name came up a lot around the trade deadline last season, largely due to the fact that he is a large offensive threat. Last season, he netted 26 goals and 19 assists for a grand total of 45 points – 4th in team scoring from the 2013-14 Devils. His one-timer is very dangerous, and he would most likely be thrown on the point in the power play to blast one-timers like Kovalchuk used to. He is also able to play all three forward positions, something that Pete DeBoer loves, but is primarily a left winger.

The 32 year old Canadian is small in size at 5’9″, and is very injury prone (he hasn’t played a full season once in his NHL career). He also is going to carry a hefty price tag between $4-5 million per season. Probably not the best bet for the Devils, but an option.

4. Radim Vrbata

This is a man that really intrigues me. Vrbata, 33, netted 51 points (20G, 31A) last season playing for the Coyotes. That alone should grab most Devils fans’ attention. He’s not a physical player, but he is a playmaker. He’s an excellent skater and a good penalty killer, and can really rack up the points. He’s hit the 40-point mark six times in his career, 50 point-mark twice, and 60-point mark once. Vrbata will provide NJ with depth at right wing, which they need.

He’ll provide speed and leadership for the Devils as well as good defensive coverage, but most importantly he will provide points, and that is what the Devils need. He will likely seek a deal between $4-5 million per season.

3. Jussi Jokinen

The Devils shootout record last season, as we all know, was, well… abysmal. It’s no small secret that they need all the help they can get from shootout specialists, and Jussi Jokinen is a shootout specialist. Jokinen is a versatile forward who can play all three forward positions, and recorded 57 points (21G, 36A) this season. He is more of a playmaker than a goal scorer, so don’t expect those kind of numbers every season. However, he has hit the 40 point plateau seven times in his career.

The 31 year old Finn is very good in the faceoff circle, rocking at 53.5 percent accuracy on draws. However, he is 5’11” and not very strong.

All things considered, he brings shootout skills and good offensive abilities, as well as being defensively sound. The Devils would be stupid not to at least pitch an offer to him. He would likely command $4-5 million per season and would seek a long-term deal.

2. Matt Moulson

A man of many travels; that’s what Matt Moulson is. He found himself playing in three different cities this past season; Long Island, Buffalo, and Minnesota. While playing for those three teams this season, he netted 27 goals and 24 assists for 51 points. He’s a player who has consistency in goal scoring, and can put up good points.

However, he lacks speed and has not done good in playoff situations. Despite his 6’1″ frame, he is not a physical player. The 30 year old winger could command $4-5 million per season. Not bad given his stats, but all things considered, that price tag is a little too high for him. He’s an option at least for New Jersey, and could provide good scoring abilities.

1. Paul Stastny

There isn’t much that needs to be said about Paul Stastny. He is going to be the highest sought-after free agent on the open market, garnering interest from more than 20 teams. He’s 28 years old, and a solid playmaker with great scoring abilities and faceoff abilities (54.1%). He put up 60 points (25G, 35A) last season, and has hit the 70 point mark thrice in his career. He would make a great second line center on Jersey’s Team.

He’s the best player in this free agent class, and he knows it. Expect him to sign somewhere for $5-6 million.

BONUS PLAYER: MATT NISKANEN

I know the Devils have a logjam at defense, but Matt Niskanen could easily find his way to the Devils’ top defensive pairing. He is a very strong skater and has great offensive ability for a defenseman. Don’t get me wrong, he’s no Drew Doughty or Ryan McDonagh, but he is a great offensive threat to have on your blueline. He is a lot like Marek Zidlicky in the sense that he has great offensive abilities, but the defensive side of his game is rather lackluster and could use work. He put up 46 points (10G, 36A) this season.

At age 27, he is in his prime. His price tag is very high, somewhere between $5-6 million if not higher.

THAT’S ALL, FOLKS!

Thanks for reading. I know it was a very long read, but we would love to hear your feedback. So comment below, on our facebook page, or on our Twitter and let us know which of these players you think the Devils should pursue in July!

Devils-Rangers Stadium Series Preview


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History will be made today as the New Jersey Devils will add another chapter to their storied rivalry with the New York Rangers. The Devils will face off outdoors for the first time in their history at the famous Yankee Stadium in New York City today.

Time: 12:30pm Eastern.

Broadcast: NBC Sports Network.

Matchup: New Jersey Devils (22-19-11) vs the New York Rangers (27-23-3).

The Last Devils Game The Devils hosted the Washington Capitals at the Rock. Stephen Gionta and Adam Henrique tallied for the Devils en route to a 2-1 victory over the Caps. The Devils are currently riding a 2 game winning streak.

The Last Rangers Game The Rangers faced off against the Blues on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, and dropped the game 2-1 in front of a home crowd. The Rangers are currently riding a 2 game losing streak.

The Last Devils-Rangers Game The Devils visited Madison Square Garden on December 7, 2013. They got off to a slow start, finding themselves down 1-0 after the first period. The Rangers added another, before Cam Janssen scored to bring the Devils within one. Zajac and Ryder tallied 3rd period goals, putting the Devils ahead by a goal. Chris Kreider tied the game on the power play with just 22 seconds remaining in regulation. We headed to OT, and Ryan Callahan took a double-minor hi sticking penalty just 1:02 into the extra session. Eric Gelinas ripped a blast from the point 13 seconds later that beat Lundqvist and won the game for New Jersey.

New Face on Devils Top Line With Joe Whitney being sent back to Albany after a 1 game stint with the big club, Coach DeBoer decided to give the vacant left wing position alongside Travis Zajac and Jaromor Jagr to none other than Jacob Josefson. So far this season, Josefson has been virtually nonexistent in the 16 games he’s played. He’s recorded only 1 assist in that time. Perhaps his speed will do him good on a line that lacks it. Let’s see if he can click.

Brodeur’s Time to Shine The Devils announced on Saturday that Martin Brodeur would be their starter for the Stadium Series. Considering this may be the only chance Brodeur has to play in an event like this, and in honor of all he has done for the organization, it is no surprise that he got the nod. However, given how Schneider has stole the reigns from Brodeur, a strong showing by Marty would help get him some more playing time in the coming games. Lundqvist will face Brodeur on the other end of the rink.

What’s At Stake It’s no small secret that today’s game is huge for both teams, as a Devils win would tie them with the Rangers for 2nd place in the division and move them back into the playoff picture. Of course, bragging rights amongst their hated rivals are at stake as well.

What to Expect This game will undoubtedly have a playoff atmosphere as the Hudson River Rivalry gets renewed in the Bronx. Both teams were evidently pumped up for the opportunity to play in the stadium, and the stakes are high for both teams. Expect big hits, lots of blocked shots, a couple of fights, a good amount of goals, and a hockey game that will keep you on the end of your seat!

Players to Watch for the Rangers, definitely keep an eye on Rick Nash, who has 10 goals in his last 10 games. The Devils MUST shut him down every shift he takes. Also for the Rangers, watch out for Chris Kreider, who has been scoring timely goals for NYR.

For the Devils, expect Ryane Clowe’s name to show up on the scoresheet. He’s been scoring timely goals, but better yet, he’s racking up the assists left and right. If you don’t see him on the goals column, check assists. Also watch out for Clowe’s line mate Adam Henrique, who has been coming alive as of late putting up points like crazy. Michael Ryder is cooling down a little bit, but he is still lethal out there. Beware of Devils 3rd line!

Final Thoughts: The Devils are going to have their work cut out for them, but if they feed off the energy and shut down the Rangers big players, they could walk away with 2 points. It’s not going to be easy. The Devils need to play a full 60 minutes and pile up as many goals as possible, an area of weakness for Jersey.

Feel free to comment and share your thoughts. This is going to be a fun game, friends. Enjoy every second of it! One shift, period, game, army. Keep calm and Marty on folks! Let’s Go Devils!