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SMantzas

Why it is a Good Thing the 2013 NHL Season Happened

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With the official elimination of the Devils, I know there are a lot of negative feelings around this place. While this season was an obvious disappointment, there are many things which make me feel confident the Devils are going to be fine next year and in the future. (this excludes the obvious entertainment aspect hockey provides)

 

1) Pete Deboer's system works- I know detractors will say, "But SMantzas, the Devils were a bottom 10 team and we couldn't score a goal!" Although all this is true, the coach is responsible for getting his team ready to play. I can't think of more than a couple of games where NJ didn't give a good and honest effort. Furthermore, the Devils significantly outshot and outchanced their opponents. Deboer can't score goals for the team, but he can (and did) put forth a system that gives them a chance to win more often than not.

 

2) Top ten draft pick coming our way- If there wasn't a season, NJ would likely be picking later than 20. The Devils should be getting their first blue chip offensive prospect since Zajac/Parise. The second round should give us a chance to pick up another offensive guy with first round talent (seeing as it's an insanely deep draft). I earnestly believe the Devils don't deserve a guy like Shinkaruk, Lindholm, Monahan, etc. over teams like the Leafs, Jackets or Stars. However, I'll take it.

 

3) The acquisition of Andrei Loktionov- Without a season, there is no way the Devils make the trade that brought Lokti to NJ. He has obvious NHL talent and looks to have chemistry with Kovalchuk. Seeing how we haven't found a center to play with Ilya, I'd say this is a big deal. He'll do extremely well playing weak minutes, while Zajac and Josefson will take on the toughs. 

 

4) Exploitation of Bryce Salvador and Anton Volchenkov- I'm not going to sugarcoat this; these guys are terrible. Whether or not the Devils choose to act on this fact is a different issue, but at least it's impossible not to recognize what a trainwreck these two are. I get they both play the PK and are kept around for various reasons. It'd just be nice to see our D without one of #24 or #28.

 

5) The visible improvement of Adam Larsson- I know he isn't a high scoring, Norris caliber defenseman yet, but he has been really good in his second season. He has played against top competition, provided solid defense and has demonstrated flashes of his offensive abilities. I suspect they take the training wheels off next season and we'll really see what we have in him. If he gets a step faster and works on his release, watch out.

 

I get that this season was largely painful to watch and I know things seem grim now, but the Devils will be fine if Brodeur plays a bit better, they get a capable backup and they stay relatively healthy. They are a top puck possession team and have a really good defense. The puck will start going in next year, especially if they get a top six scorer this offseason. The Devils have given us a lot of joy, so I think it's only fair to give Lou and co. a shot

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I'm still on the fence about Loki.  He was great the first 15 games or so, but the last 15-20 games haven't been too pretty for him.  There is a reason he has been scratched and benched in recent games.  Hopefully he can have a good training camp next year and develop more.

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Think we will see Boucher next season? I know the nhl is a totally different game compared to where he was, but I'm anxious to see what this kid can translate into this league.

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I'm still on the fence about Loki.  He was great the first 15 games or so, but the last 15-20 games haven't been too pretty for him.  There is a reason he has been scratched and benched in recent games.  Hopefully he can have a good training camp next year and develop more.

It certainly didn't he'll Loktionov's cause that Kovy went down for three weeks. The book on him from LA fans was that he's got big-time talent, but he needs to play with big-time talent or he struggles. So far, I'd say that's been pretty accurate. But Lokti has definitely been a great pickup. I look forward to him being a big part of our future.

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Agree with most of the OP's comments.

 

Loki had a very high shooting% early on...I don't really know how much he's going to bring long-term, but since a 5th-round pick was the cost, why not?  I'd like to see what he can do playing a full 82-game season, starting with can he stick around for 82 games?  Clearly he has some skills. 

 

I don't know if Brodeur can play any better than he is right now.  He's going to be 41 with more miles on his odometer than any goalie to play the game before him.  If anything, I go into next season not expecting anything more than what he did this season, at best, and plan accordingly...he's not a rock anymore, he's an "if".  Sadly, that means the only way the Devils should give him 55-60 GP is if Lou puts a team in front of him that is absolutely stacked, where his impact on the games is minimized.  Since I can't see how Lou can do that in one off-season, I think Lou's either gotta decide whether one of the guys he's got in his system is the goalie of the future, or try to find him elsewhere.  I've already addressed this in the Devs/Rags GDT, but if Lou just blindly treats the goalie situation like Marty is the clear #1 next season, the Devils will be in trouble...they can't continually try to hold teams to less than 15 shots, having trouble scoring, and then have a goalie who's not a premier puckstopper in the nets.  Way too many things have to break right for that formula to work.      

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Agree with most of the OP's comments.

 

Loki had a very high shooting% early on...I don't really know how much he's going to bring long-term, but since a 5th-round pick was the cost, why not?  I'd like to see what he can do playing a full 82-game season, starting with can he stick around for 82 games?  Clearly he has some skills. 

 

I don't know if Brodeur can play any better than he is right now.  He's going to be 41 with more miles on his odometer than any goalie to play the game before him.  If anything, I go into next season not expecting anything more than what he did this season, at best, and plan accordingly...he's not a rock anymore, he's an "if".  Sadly, that means the only way the Devils should give him 55-60 GP is if Lou puts a team in front of him that is absolutely stacked, where his impact on the games is minimized.  Since I can't see how Lou can do that in one off-season, I think Lou's either gotta decide whether one of the guys he's got in his system is the goalie of the future, or try to find him elsewhere.  I've already addressed this in the Devs/Rags GDT, but if Lou just blindly treats the goalie situation like Marty is the clear #1 next season, the Devils will be in trouble...they can't continually try to hold teams to less than 15 shots, having trouble scoring, and then have a goalie who's not a premier puckstopper in the nets.  Way too many things have to break right for that formula to work.      

 

Re Brodeur, I think the idea is to get him to 700 wins. 

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Re Brodeur, I think the idea is to get him to 700 wins. 

 

Trying to get him there can't come at everyone else's expense...that number really shouldn't mean anything to anyone just because it's a nice pretty round rumber.  He's already so far ahead of everyone else it shouldn't matter anyway.  680, 690, 700, what's the difference when only one other guy has won as many as 500 games?  And based on the last two full seasons, I can't pencil Marty in for the 30+ wins it will take to reach 700.  Say he plays pretty well in a reduced role and finishes the season with 20-25 wins, finishing his career with, say, 690-695 wins.  Will anyone care that he didn't reach 700? 

 

I hope this isn't the Devils thinking, that 700 is important somehow.    

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With the official elimination of the Devils, I know there are a lot of negative feelings around this place. While this season was an obvious disappointment, there are many things which make me feel confident the Devils are going to be fine next year and in the future. (this excludes the obvious entertainment aspect hockey provides)

 

1) Pete Deboer's system works- I know detractors will say, "But SMantzas, the Devils were a bottom 10 team and we couldn't score a goal!" Although all this is true, the coach is responsible for getting his team ready to play. I can't think of more than a couple of games where NJ didn't give a good and honest effort. Furthermore, the Devils significantly outshot and outchanced their opponents. Deboer can't score goals for the team, but he can (and did) put forth a system that gives them a chance to win more often than not.

 

2) Top ten draft pick coming our way- If there wasn't a season, NJ would likely be picking later than 20. The Devils should be getting their first blue chip offensive prospect since Zajac/Parise. The second round should give us a chance to pick up another offensive guy with first round talent (seeing as it's an insanely deep draft). I earnestly believe the Devils don't deserve a guy like Shinkaruk, Lindholm, Monahan, etc. over teams like the Leafs, Jackets or Stars. However, I'll take it.

 

3) The acquisition of Andrei Loktionov- Without a season, there is no way the Devils make the trade that brought Lokti to NJ. He has obvious NHL talent and looks to have chemistry with Kovalchuk. Seeing how we haven't found a center to play with Ilya, I'd say this is a big deal. He'll do extremely well playing weak minutes, while Zajac and Josefson will take on the toughs. 

 

4) Exploitation of Bryce Salvador and Anton Volchenkov- I'm not going to sugarcoat this; these guys are terrible. Whether or not the Devils choose to act on this fact is a different issue, but at least it's impossible not to recognize what a trainwreck these two are. I get they both play the PK and are kept around for various reasons. It'd just be nice to see our D without one of #24 or #28.

 

5) The visible improvement of Adam Larsson- I know he isn't a high scoring, Norris caliber defenseman yet, but he has been really good in his second season. He has played against top competition, provided solid defense and has demonstrated flashes of his offensive abilities. I suspect they take the training wheels off next season and we'll really see what we have in him. If he gets a step faster and works on his release, watch out.

 

I get that this season was largely painful to watch and I know things seem grim now, but the Devils will be fine if Brodeur plays a bit better, they get a capable backup and they stay relatively healthy. They are a top puck possession team and have a really good defense. The puck will start going in next year, especially if they get a top six scorer this offseason. The Devils have given us a lot of joy, so I think it's only fair to give Lou and co. a shot

 

 

Your optimism is great. Tell me in the past 4 years what great moves has Lou made to improve this team?

Brodeur will not be better, he has been declining each year.

It cost money to buy out players like Hedberg, A-Train and Sal.

It costs money to keep Elias and Clarkson(assuming they want to keep Clarkson)

It costs money to acquire 1st and 2nd line players that are desperately needed, we just had a taste of what happens if you have an offense made up of most 3rd and 4th line players.

IMO the Devils are in trouble next season because of money availability, Lou's style and strategies and having Brodeur.

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Lokti outplayed Zajac for most stretches of the past couple months, which I'd say is more than enough for me to feel good about his next year considering what we gave up to get him here.

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Your optimism is great. Tell me in the past 4 years what great moves has Lou made to improve this team?

Brodeur will not be better, he has been declining each year.

It cost money to buy out players like Hedberg, A-Train and Sal.

It costs money to keep Elias and Clarkson(assuming they want to keep Clarkson)

It costs money to acquire 1st and 2nd line players that are desperately needed, we just had a taste of what happens if you have an offense made up of most 3rd and 4th line players.

IMO the Devils are in trouble next season because of money availability, Lou's style and strategies and having Brodeur.

 

 

1) Kovalchuk.

2) CBGB, which is still a great lower line combo to have moving forward. Carter and Bernier have looked like our 2 best players in recent weeks.

3) Signed Zajac long-term. Pretend he didn't have his worst season to date, an absolute fluke in my opinion, he's an important piece holding this team together moving forward.

4) Not 4, but 5 years ago, drafting Adam Henrique at 82nd overall. Like Zajac and many others, he had a pretty bad year this year, but will be an extremely important piece in our future. Without Henrique last year, we may not have a Ranger-beating playoff run, or even a first round victory over Florida. Imagine if last year ended in a first round exit (again)? We'd really be in panic mode. Rangers might've won a Cup.

5) DeBoer. You realize how many coaches we've gone through in the past 10+ years? I think DeBoer will be a long-term part of our future, no matter what any overreactionary fan says. He has what it takes to implement a winning system and mindset, and commands total respect within the locker room.

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It certainly didn't he'll Loktionov's cause that Kovy went down for three weeks. The book on him from LA fans was that he's got big-time talent, but he needs to play with big-time talent or he struggles. So far, I'd say that's been pretty accurate. But Lokti has definitely been a great pickup. I look forward to him being a big part of our future.

 

Well that is why I am on the fence with him.  I never cared for players who need others to depend on to excel.  It's not the fact that Loki is not scoring that bothered me, but all the mental errors he has been doing on the ice and at times I see him do lazy plays.

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1) Kovalchuk.

2) CBGB, which is still a great lower line combo to have moving forward. Carter and Bernier have looked like our 2 best players in recent weeks.

3) Signed Zajac long-term. Pretend he didn't have his worst season to date, an absolute fluke in my opinion, he's an important piece holding this team together moving forward.

4) Not 4, but 5 years ago, drafting Adam Henrique at 82nd overall. Like Zajac and many others, he had a pretty bad year this year, but will be an extremely important piece in our future. Without Henrique last year, we may not have a Ranger-beating playoff run, or even a first round victory over Florida. Imagine if last year ended in a first round exit (again)? We'd really be in panic mode. Rangers might've won a Cup.

5) DeBoer. You realize how many coaches we've gone through in the past 10+ years? I think DeBoer will be a long-term part of our future, no matter what any overreactionary fan says. He has what it takes to implement a winning system and mindset, and commands total respect within the locker room.

5 points WOW

 

I agree about DeBoer and Kovy. But Parise, Sykora, A-Train, Sal,  Janssen, Sullivan so many more moves offset the good.

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1) Kovalchuk.

2) CBGB, which is still a great lower line combo to have moving forward. Carter and Bernier have looked like our 2 best players in recent weeks.

3) Signed Zajac long-term. Pretend he didn't have his worst season to date, an absolute fluke in my opinion, he's an important piece holding this team together moving forward.

4) Not 4, but 5 years ago, drafting Adam Henrique at 82nd overall. Like Zajac and many others, he had a pretty bad year this year, but will be an extremely important piece in our future. Without Henrique last year, we may not have a Ranger-beating playoff run, or even a first round victory over Florida. Imagine if last year ended in a first round exit (again)? We'd really be in panic mode. Rangers might've won a Cup.

5) DeBoer. You realize how many coaches we've gone through in the past 10+ years? I think DeBoer will be a long-term part of our future, no matter what any overreactionary fan says. He has what it takes to implement a winning system and mindset, and commands total respect within the locker room.

 

I'll add the acquisitions of Loktionov and D'Agostini. Loki has potential to be a big piece, and while Dags is nothing amazing, he can be a valuable 3rd liner with speed. Both were had for 5th rd picks, which rarely pan out to regular NHLers.

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5 points WOW

 

I agree about DeBoer and Kovy. But Parise, Sykora, A-Train, Sal,  Janssen, Sullivan so many more moves offset the good.

 

No. You focus on the bad.

 

We've all been over the Parise thing a 1000 times.

 

What about Sykora? He could barely skate by the end of last season. Not one NHL team would even give him a tryout.

 

Volchenkov was one of the top available defensive free agents the year he was signed. He was a great player for Ottawa. He's slowed down considerably, but that's the kind of signing you are always howling for. You want it until it doesn't work out.

 

Salvador is a bad contract. Absolute steal of a trade, but a bad contract.

 

Janssen makes league minimum and was banished to the minors most of the season.

 

Sullivan hasn't done much, but you wanted Sykora. What's the difference? Oh, that's right, ones not here so he can help, the other is so he sucks.

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I like Dags even if his qualifying offer is a little high. He brings much needed speed and I would like to see him go through a full training camp and season.

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The Devils got waaaaaaaaay more out of Sykora in '11-12 than anyone had any right to expect.  That being said, I think the Devils did the right thing by not bringing him back...I think the returns this season would have been much more disappointing.  And the fact that not ONE other NHL team gave him so much as a tryout says a lot.  I think the Devils managed to squeeze out whatever Sykora had left at the NHL level.  And I think the NHL, to a GM, knew it. 

 

Clearly some are going the optimistic route, and others going the pessimistic route.  I'll admit I don't really know how the next few years play out.  For one, the NHL seems like it's become very much a year-to-year league...just look at the Devils the last three seasons:  no playoffs, SC Finals, no playoffs.  And second, two mainstays from the Cup years are seeing their time come to a close, possibly this season (though not likely).  Guys that we've all been used to having around for season after season after season are going to be gone.  A lot of new faces are going to be coming in here.  For years, the Devils didn't have that many questions to answer, but clearly they are going to have a lot of them to address in the next few years, as a new era begins to take shape.  As is expectant of a fanbase that has seen their team be competitive for such a long time, a good number of fans will expect the answers to come quickly, but I don't think that they will (at least not in an obvious "OK that need is filled", checklist kind of manner).  You could start a thread just on the questions alone.  I don't take all of this as the beginning of Armageddon...it's been so long since the Devils have been in this position I don't really know how to take it, other than wait and see.  I think the only way to stay sane during this time is to be patient and not overreact to every move/non-move as it happens...as Devils fans, that hasn't been asked of us since...actually, I can't remember the last time...since the very early days, I suppose.   

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5 points WOW

 

I agree about DeBoer and Kovy. But Parise, Sykora, A-Train, Sal,  Janssen, Sullivan so many more moves offset the good.

 

Sykora and Sullivan are so interrelated. If you didn't like us getting Sullivan, I'm not sure why you'd have wanted us to get Sykora, who was way slower and out of gas than Sullivan this time last year. But that's besides the point.

 

Janssen and Barch are a non-issue, really. Out of sight, out of mind. Purposeless signing, but not affecting us in any way.

 

On the larger scale, Volchenkov's and Salvador's contracts aren't crippling the team's future. Yes, they're being overpaid right now and yes, they're contracts aren't ideal, but they're not crippling the team. If you're JVB or his accountant, you're probably not happy, but it's not putting us in cap trouble, cap that we're not even spending up to. It's really not that big of a deal.

 

What would've crippled the team? The amount of money that Parise asked for, that's what. Re-signing Parise at the price he was commanding could've easily been one of the most long-term damaging decisions Lou could've made if he had gone through with it.

Edited by DJ Eco

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Why anyone would be annoyed by Sullivan baffles me.  A 7th round pick for a cheap rental?  It was an absolute "what the hell, what do we have to lose?" move.  Lou basically got him for free...if Sullivan had gotten hot and surprised us all, great.  Other than that, the trade was going to be as forgettable as the 7th-rounder the Devils would've drafted (sure, the Devils could've gotten lucky with the pick, but we all know guys who get drafted in the 7th round are exactly expected to have much of an NHL career).  At any rate, I can't see why bringing Sully in would tick anyone off. 

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Personally, I have just an awful impression in my mind of Sullivan from those SHG's in the Boston game that were either directly or indirectly his fault.

It was definitely a low-risk, low-reward type deal, and nothing came of it. He might almost be considered a negative, but the whole team was a negative at that point so it doesn't really matter.

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I don't agree 100% with everything in the OP, but I much prefer this to the doom and gloom threads by a great margin. There are a few question marks about next year, such as whether Elias and Clarkson are re-signed, what happens with the back-up goalie position, etc., but I feel confident that Pete DeBoer and Lou will have us in the mix again and fighting for a playoff spot. I think we all have to start to accept that the playoffs will not be a guaranteed thing anymore. Red Wings fans might be learning that same lesson shortly. There just aren't powerhouse, playoffs-guaranteed-every-year teams like there used to be. A lot of the league's "elite" teams are clubs that were terrible 5 years ago and reaped the benefits of their high draft picks. The Devils used to be one of the special teams that always made it, but now that concept is fading away, and we will be in the middle of the struggle just like everyone else.

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