New Jersey Devils

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Wes Goldstein's Take

Rookie coach Brent Sutter adapted nicely to the job in New Jersey because he adhered to the organizational philosophy of preaching defense first, last and above all. That style has been the trademark of the Devils for more than a decade and Sutter couldn't really rock the boat even had he wanted to because New Jersey didn't have much in the way of firepower to begin with. The problem is that while the formula is effective during the regular season, it tends to leave the Devils vulnerable at playoff time as they demonstrated by bowing out quickly last spring in the first round. Sutter will have a few more options this season with the additions of veterans Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik, especially if young Zach Parise continues his march toward becoming a 100 point player and Patrik Elias gets his groove back. Most important, the Devils still have Martin Brodeur tending goal, which means they'll be in the hunt for a playoff spot, but not much more.

We've already noted the presence of Brodeur, but he's worth mentioning again because the veteran is really the best thing about this team. And this year, he'll be taking aim at Patrick Roy's career record of 551 wins. Brodeur needs just 16 to get there, and he'll probably earn many of them on his own. The Devils do have more team speed than some people realize and a solid excellent penalty killing unit led by the tandem of John Madden and Jay Pandolfo and with the additions of the veteran newcomers, their offense may not be as tepid as it has been in recent seasons.

The power play was abysmal last season and is the key area the Devils have to improve if they want to get serious. And while Brodeur has been a constant for the last 15 years in New Jersey, he can no longer count on an exceptionally strong group of defensemen in front of him. The Devils have undergone a near total transition along the blue line since the lockout, leaving it without the dominant leader and too many young players still prone to mistakes in their own end.

Brodeur is 36, so you have to wonder how much longer he can continue to play 70 plus games a season and be effective.

Burning Question

Can they go back to the future? GM Lou Lamoriello decided to take a trip down memory lane this summer when the free-agent market opened. He made two significant moves, signing veterans Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik, both of whom have been with the team before. But Holik is 37 and Rolston is 34, and with cornerstone goaltender Martin Brodeur now 36, New Jersey will be relying a great deal on players who are in the back stretch of their careers.

On the Hot Seat
Brian Gionta, RW
Gionta seemed to have trouble fitting into Sutter's system last season, when he dropped to 22 goals after scoring 48 in the first post-lockout campaign. A slow start could make him trade bait.
Save the Date
March 20 vs. Minnesota
Rolston faces off against the team he spurned.
View From the Stands
devsfan15 says:
"Johnny Oduya may be next in the line of guys who get a big contract, then can't perform well enough to actually earn it. This is a trend in the Devils roster, one exception being Zach Parise. And this kid may be worth alot more than what we'll have to pay him went he becomes a UFA. He could turn out requiring a 7.5 million dollar payday and the contracts of White, Zubrus, Elias, Rolston, etc. may make that impossible, especially if the cap drops in the next two seasons."
Join the discussion!
Winger Zach Parise became the first Devils player since John MacLean in 1990-91 to record at least 45 goals in a season. (Getty Images)
2008-09 in Review
Record: 51-27-4 for 106 points
Finish: 3rd in East, 1st in Atlantic; Lost Conf. Quarterfinals
Goals/Game: 2.90 (15th) Goals Against/Game: 2.52 (4th)
Power Play: 18.9% (15th) Penalty Kill: 79.9% (20th)
Fantasy Projections
LWPatrik Elias80234265842
CZach Parise813232641127
RWBrian Gionta80313061542
CDainius Zubrus77203151-461
RWJamie Langenbrunner75183351-456
35Martin Brodeur452852.24.9185
Complete Fantasy Projections
Generation Next
Nicklas Bergfors, RW, 22
Bergfors has a great hockey sense and great offensive potential thanks to slick moves and a quick shot. Shoulder problems have kept the winger from showing off his full potential. With a number of Devils departing this past offseason, Bergfors will get his best shot to stick with the team.
Lowell (AHL) - 66GP-22G-29A-51PTS
In the System
No. Player, Pos., Age 2008-09 Team, Stats
1 Mattias Tedenby, LW, 19 HV71 (SWE); 32GP-3G-1A-4PTS
2 Matthew Corrente, D, 21 Lowell (AHL); 67GP-6G-12A-18PTS
3 Jeff Frazee, G, 22 Lowell (AHL); 2.62GAA-.920SV%
Expert Picks
No. Goldstein Brown Devonport Hurcomb Cercel
Complete expert picks
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