NHL All-Time Teams: New Jersey Devils
After landing in New Jersey in 1982, the Devils have become one of the NHL's premier franchises thanks to guys like Martin Brodeur.
Ah, hockey in the summer, where things come to a grinding halt for about two months in between one long season and another. To fill the void we at Eye on Hockey thought it would be fun to make an all-time team for each of the 30 organizations in the NHL today.
The ground rules: The teams will consist of a center, two wings (regardless of which side), two defensemen and a goaltender. A player must have spent at least 200 games with a franchise to be considered. So Bobby Orr won't be on the Blackhawks' roster or Wayne Gretzky for St. Louis.
It was a long and winding road to get to New Jersey, but after two years in Kansas City as the Scouts and another six as the Colorado Rockies, the Devils came along in 1982-83. They would become one of the league's most successful post-expansion franchises with 21 playoff appearances, five trips to the Stanley Cup Final and Stanley Cup titles.
With so many quality teams over the years, particularly from 1994 to 2012, the list of players that deserve a spot on this list is a long and somehwat challenging one to whittle down. There's the easy decisions like Martin Brodeur, whose historic run with the Devils likely comes to an end in 2014, but there have been so many memorable players over the past two decades to roll through New Jersey.
Before we get the Devils all-time team started however, let us pay homage to one of the great defunct team jerseys of the 1970s. Here's Lanny McDonald sporting his Colorado Rockies blues (via OldeTimeHockey.com).
Patrik Elias: A lot of centers have come and gone in New Jersey since 1997, but Elias has remained. No forward has played as many games for the Devils as Elias, who is also the franchise's all-time leading scorer with 930 points. The next closest player on the list -- John MacLean -- trails by 229 points. Elias' 375 goals and 555 assists are also franchise bests.
A second-round pick by the Devils in 1994, Elias has never played for another team in the NHL since his first full-time season in 1997-98. Elias is still going strong, having just come off a 36-point effort in the abbreviated 2012-13 season at age 36. It was enough to earn him another three-year extension, keeping him with the club that drafted him until 2015-16.
During his time with the Devils, Elias has won the Stanley Cup twice, was a league All-Star in 2000-01 and made the All-Rookie team in '97-98. He has put up Hall of Fame-type numbers, despite the fact that he has never been an overly heralded player in the league.
Here's Elias scoring a goal in his 1,000th career game.
John MacLean: In the early years of the Devils, John MacLean was just about the best thing going in the red and green (at that time). He was the sixth overall pick in the 1983 entry draft for the Devils and it didn't take him terribly long to make a sizable NHL impact.
MacLean went on to play in 934 games in New Jersey over 13-plus seasons. His 347 goals and 701 points for the Devils trail only Elias, while he is third all-time with 354 assists. He was an integral part of New Jersey's run to the conference finals in 1988 and his loyalty and longevity eventually paid off with the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 1995.
MacLean eventually returned to the Devils as the team's head coach in 2010-11, though the experiment was shortlived. He was replaced after just 33 games at the helm. Though coaching didn't work out, he'll always be remembered as one of the greatest Devils.
Kirk Muller: The Devils were immediately rewarded after selecting Muller second overall in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft. As a rookie, he posted 54 points and sparked what turned out to be a brilliant seven-year run in New Jersey.
Muller sits third in Devils history with 520 points and fifth with 335 assists. One of the most respected leaders in the game during his era, Muller was named the team's captain in 1987 at just 21 years old and led the team to the conference finals that season, the deepest run for the franchise at the time. He remained as captain until he was traded to Montreal with Roland Melanson for Stephane Richer and Tom Chorske in 1991.
Muller ended up helping the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup in 1993, but Richer and Chorske helped New Jersey win the NHL's top prize two years later. Count that as a win-win.
The former Devils captain is now the head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, but did he ever look good in the ol' red and green unis of yesteryear.
Scott Stevens: Though he would probably be suspended from here to kingdom come in today's NHL, Scott Stevens became one of the most feared hitters in the game during his heyday. In those years, there was a lot less info on players' brains and Stevens certainly rattled more than a few. His hit on Slava Kozlov in the 1995 Stanley Cup Final is among one of the more memorable collisions.
Beyond the body-checking, however, Stevens was a strong all-around defenseman. Before the Devils relied on the now infamous neutral-zone trap, Stevens was actually a pretty solid point producer. In 1993-94 he posted a 78-point season, the best of his career.
Stevens adapted into an even more stout defender as the Devils looked to suck the offense and sometimes fun out of every game they played. It worked to the tune of three Stanley Cup titles during Stevens' tenure, all while he served as the team's captain, a position he held for 12 seasons. He also won the Conn Smythe as the 2000 Stanley Cup playoffs MVP.
Stevens was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007 and had his No. 4 retired by the team the year before. His 956 games played for the Devils are fourth most in franchise history. He ranks eighth all-time with 430 points and sits fourth with 1,007 penalty minutes with the Devils.
Scott Niedermayer: One of the greatest offensive defensemen of his or any era, Niedermayer was able to produce despite a team system that focused mainly on shutting the oppnent down with stifling defense. He was good at that, too.
After being selected third overall in the 1991 draft by the Devils, Niedermayer went on to a brilliant 12-year career in New Jersey. He was part of all three of the club's Stanley Cup championships and in his last year with the team, Niedermayer won his first and only Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman.
A first-ballot Hall of Famer, Niedermayer won the Cup again with the Anaheim Ducks, but he'll probably always be best remembered as a Devil. His 476 career points with the team are most by any defenseman in Devils history and fourth overall, while his 364 assists are second most in team history. His No. 27 was retired by the Devils in 2011.
Watch Niedermayer go end-to-end in Game 2 of the 1995 Stanley Cup Final.
Martin Brodeur: Simply put, Brodeur has become one of the legends of the game and he's still going. One of the all-time great goaltenders, Brodeur has been a Devil his entire career. He was selected 20th overall in 1990 by New Jersey.
He has compiled a remarkable a 20-year career with the Devils, breaking a litany of NHL records along the way. No goalie has played in more games in NHL history than Brodeur (1,220), none has more wins than New Jersey's goaltender (669), nor has any ammassed as many shutouts (121). His career goals-against average of 2.23 is eighth in league history, while his .913 career save percentage is 18th.
Brodeur has won the Vezina Trophy four times and was the Calder Trophy winner in 1993-94. He was the starter on three Stanley Cup-winning teams and has posted a .919 save percentage and 2.02 goals-against average over 17 postseasons. Do you want me to keep going?
Showing Brodeur's saves would be easy, but he also has scored three goals over his career. Here's his first, scored in the 1997 Playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens.
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