I'm almost always an optimist when it comes to the Devils, but we have such a lackluster roster, it's hard to be. When you watch teams like Chicago or Pittsburgh, for example, or even Montreal at times, it's easy to see we have a very subpar team. Yes, we went to the SCF last year, and yes, I think our roster could still play good hockey without Parise, but it's extremely fragile. If one of, a Zubrus or a Kovalchuk (obviously) or a Brodeur is out injured, we lose; it's become THAT simple.
Lou's philosophy has always been to build the team to win. But it's clear and obvious that we wouldn't be able to beat a Chicago or Boston (can't wait til Wednesday, yay!). We're not built to win. We couldn't beat a completely depressed Rangers side two weeks ago, we couldn't beat Tampa or Florida, and we obviously can't figure out how to get the Islanders this year. Who can we beat??
I think what we are seeing is the result of being too good for too long. A decade or so of not picking until #20-30 can add up. When you get 5 or 6 years of picks in the first half of each round, you have access to better players.
Plus, a lot (A LOT!!!) of the Devils 1st and 2nd rounders didn't pan out. These are supposed to be your top prospects.
According to hockeydb... Since 2000 in the first or second round (with total NHL games)
David Hale (327), Teemu Laine (0), Alexander Suglobov (18), Matt DeMarchi (0), Paul Martin (583), Adrian Foster (0), Igor Pohanka (0), Tuomas Pihlman (15), Victor Uchevatov (0), Anton Kadeykov (0), Barry Tallackson (20), Zach Parise (537), Petr Vrana (16), Travis Zajac (459), Niklas Bergfors (173), Jeff Frazee (1), Matt Corrente (34), Alexander Vasyunov (18), Mike Hoeffel (0), Mattias Tedenby (105), Bandon Burlon (0), Patrice Cormier (39), Jacob Josefson (85), Eric Gelinas (0), Jon Merrill (0), Adam Larsson (93), Stefan Matteau (17), Damon Severson (0),
Now, Gelinas, Merrill, and Severson's zero's mean nothing since they are just getting started in their careers, but there's a lot of picks that didn't pay off. I don't know what percentage of 1st-2nd rounders pay off league wide but of those listed, I'd say we had 3 that became permanent NHLers and a few that should in the future.