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