Unless you were on another planet you already know about the New Jersey Devils struggles to score goals last season. But a pair of Swedish phenoms, Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby may be just what the doctor ordered for New Jerseys anemic offense. The two highly regarded young players used a combination of blazing speed and tremendous raw talent to form what should be a formidable offensive threat for the Devils in the very near future.
Josefson and Tedenby already have an impressive history together. The tandem played together on the same line for Sweden at the World Junior Championships in 2009. However, the on ice chemistry they developed playing for their country didn’t initially translate onto NHL ice. The Devils now re-retired head coach Jacques Lemaire gave Tedenby a wake up call by scratching him twice for poor play then adding hardworking winger David Clarkson to their line. The benching seemed to work and the trio had instant success and both Josefson and Tedenby made huge strides in their games. The newly assembled line gave the offensively crippled Devils a much needed spark, something the team sorely missed for much of the year. Heading into their second NHL season both players look poised to become big time contributors for New Jersey.
New Jersey took Josefson with the 20th pick in the 2009 draft and so far it looks like a pick well spent. The 20 year-old already has the New Jersey faithful excited by his apparent limitless upside potential. Devils management is hoping he develops into the two-way center the team has lacked in recent years. Even though Josefson was limited to just 28 NHL games, by splitting time between the big club and the AHL (Albany Devils) which included missing significant time with a hand injury, he still managed to finish his rookie campaign strong. Over his final 20 games the first-year center racked up ten points with a stellar +/- rating (+6).
Fellow Swedish rookie Tedenby is small but flashy. At 5′ 9″ and 167 lbs the small but speedy left winger is a different type of player than Josefson. Despite his size, the Devils brass thought so highly of Tedenby they used their 24th overall pick in the 2008 entry draft to take the gifted winger. Tedenby has a tremendous offensive upside with hands and feet as quick as lightning and his effortless stickhandling impressed several of the Devils veterans. He is regarded as a natural offensive talent with moves that would leave even a seasoned defender dizzy. At just 21 years of age, he still has some maturing to do physically but his size is not a concern for New Jersey who have seen smaller players like Brian Gionta and Andy Greene excel at a high level. His 22 points (8g 14s) in 58 games led all New Jersey rookies.
With the addition of a healthy Zach Parise and of course Ilya Kovalchuk, it certainly appears that New has the offensive weapons they desperately need right in their own back yard. But, let’s not forget Lemaire was a big factor in both players second half turnarounds as he was for the resurgence of the rest of the team. Whomever GM Lou Lamoriello hires as the Devils next coach has to be made from the same mold as Lemaire or both players might just take a step back next season and the Devils offense may again be more flash then it is bang.
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Devils May Already Have the Answer to Offensive Woes
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