lol. gimme a break. Let's go back to see the Islanders of 2006-07, the last time they made the playoffs:
Their top 5 scorers? Over 30. Next guy on the list? Tom Poti, who would leave for Washington next year. How about the defense? Campoli and Gervais were young, but they turned into pretty much nothing. Please don't say something dumb like 'Larsson could turn into nothing!'. Only if he gets hurt. Minutes leader Tom Poti left. Second minutes leader Sean Hill was 36. And so on and so forth. The Islanders were in the position of having an old team with almost no prospects. They dealt two of their best ones for Ryan Smyth. Rick Dipietro also turned into a pumpkin.
The Devils are not in this spot at all.
I don't think this is true (NJ crushed on the PP and PK which is why their differential is so high, think they did that right out of the gate), but there's a ton of score effects in this, and the fact that the Devils' goalies had about an .850 SV% in the 1st period helps your shot differential but not your goal differential.
The Devils are an old team, even if you take into account that the numbers are skewed by Marty and Hedberg. With the team as constructed, you could expect on a year in year out basis for the top scorers to be Kovalchuk (30 and 12 years worth of games in his mileage), Clarkson (29 and 50/50 he's playing somewhere else next year), Elias (37) and Zajac (27), and maybe you can count Zubrus (34). The only really young somewhat proven commodites on the roster are Henrique and Loktiniov. The defense is very old. Fayne and Larsson are the only ones under 30, and Fayne only has one year before he is a UFA. Even assuming Larsson turns out to be very good, he will not be the type of defenseman that can do it all by himself (there are maybe 3 defenseman in the league that can do that).
The goalie situation is up in the air. Wedgewood is an unproven commodity, and Kinkaid doesn't project to be all that stellar. And as much as people like to think that good goalies are out there for picking, it just isn't so.
With all of this, it is VERY important that the Devils add young players that can score goals or, at least help score goals. The only forward in the system that might be able to do that is Boucher, and maybe Matteau. Severson could turn out to have Rafalski offensive skill and Merrill projects to be a 40 point defenseman. As many people that are very high on him have said that Larsson probably won't set the world on fire with his point production.
If the Devils pick this year turns into Robert Nillson, things could get ugly very quickly. And, save a trade, there is no first round pick next year. It is imperative that the Devils at least hit a nice double (say Ryan Kesler type performance) with this draft pick.
I hope Lou has some kind of voodoo magic (or has some embarrassing photos fo Bettman) that gets the Devils to win the lottery this year. A trade down that includes getting a player like Barkov and recouping a first rounder next year will immediately turn around what looks to be at the very least a cloudy future.