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Triumph

Member Since 08 Sep 2002
Online Last Active Today, 02:21 AM
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Topics I've Started

The One Player Who Cannot Be On This Team Next Year

01 February 2015 - 11:12 AM

Why not title threads like Buzzfeed?  That face you make when you look at the Devils' stats.

 

Dainius Zubrus has had a very solid, if unexceptional career.  This is his 8th season as a New Jersey Devil.  He has never had more than 44 points in a season but for his first 5 seasons in a Devils uniform he was remarkably consistent points-wise - he was always right around .5 points/game, with between 10 and 20 goals.  Indeed, Zubrus ranks 30th all time in franchise points.  He's also having an atrocious year and he's 36 going on 37 with 1200+ NHL games under his belt.  

 

Everything has gone wrong for Zubrus this year, who ranks 370th out of 397 qualified forwards in points/60.   He also ranks 380th in shots/60.  He's just not offensively capable enough to play anything more than a 4th line role, and yet there he is getting top 9 minutes.  The Devils have been able to say goodbye to players like Jay Pandolfo and Sergei Brylin when they were past their expiration date - the Devils' other issues shouldn't confuse management.  He's a replacement-level NHLer at best - his offense is terrible, he takes too many penalties, but he can still play defense okay.  I like Zubrus a lot - the Devils clearly do too - but that contract was a disaster the minute it was signed and it's about as bad as a 3 year, 9.3M contract can be.

The Transformation of Adam Larsson

20 January 2015 - 04:48 PM

I think I've been over this ground before, but I'm going to give a brief synopsis of how I perceive Adam Larsson's career as a Devil has gone - I will consult numbers for this, but they won't really augment my points that much, I don't think.

 

Year 1 (2011-12):  I can't remember who Larsson's first regular D partner was, but stats.hockeyanalysis tells me that Larsson's most common D partner was Bryce Salvador, and that sounds right.  The lineup was something like Tallinder-Fayne, Greene-Volchenkov, Salvador-Larsson.  Larsson struggled mightily on the power play in Year 1 even though he was the main QB - his shot differential was only 31 shots/60 minutes, which is pretty darn low, and the Devils gave up a lot of shorthanded goals.  His issue was chiefly slow decision-making - he wasn't sure what to do with the puck when he got it, and often thought he had more time than he did.  In addition, Larsson liked to hold on to the puck for as long as possible to see if a pass would develop. Compounding this was his slow acceleration - he'd never catch up if he lost the puck.  in short, he wasn't ready for that role and finally when Kurtis Foster arrived he was taken off the power play.  Still, despite skating issues, he was an effective defenseman and produced impressive breakout passes.  He was gaining confidence and playing reasonably well until he was hurt in February - he comes back and is given less ice time and doesn't appear to be making great decisions.  He's a healthy scratch through the first round of the playoffs, but gets in there against Philadelphia and looks quite good.  Then he's taken out against the Rangers and never gets back in.  Still, a good first year all in all - he broke even as a 19 year old NHL rookie, and that's really quite rare.

 

Year 2 (2012-13):  Larsson posts 19 points in 33 AHL games as the lockout eats up the beginning of the NHL season.  Even so, he's left out of the NHL rotation as the Devils go with 8 defensemen - he doesn't get into game action until Game 6.  Nothing really stands out to me about this year at all - he was mostly paired with Andy Greene and really did not look impressive - the breakout passes were there, but the rest of his game wasn't.  He struggled with gap control, he was slow to cover passes by the opposition, and of course he was being beaten wide far too often.  I think this year is when I noticed that Larsson takes a lot of hits in the D zone, more than his share.  

 

Year 3 (2013-14):  Larsson begins the season in the lineup.  He plays the first 2 games and is a -4.  He stays in for another game where he's even and is then a healthy scratch.  I think this is where DeBoer makes his comments about Larsson not being a -2 every game or whatever.  The issue isn't just that he's a -4, it's that he's being beaten wide in the same fashion as he had been last year.  There appeared to be no improvement in his skating.  Gelinas gets called up to the team in October and Larsson is his D partner early on and that D pairing does quite well - they get very well protected zone start wise but they're still doing quite good territorially.  Then Larsson gets hurt, goes down to the minors, and returns briefly at the end of the year.  Everything seems to be status quo.  His territorial numbers for the year look good but they're in a pretty small sample.

 

Year 4 (2014-15):  Larsson doesn't look particularly good in preseason, to my eyes.  He's scratched to begin the season and talks about how it's the most difficult thing that's happened to him in his career so far.  Trade rumors begin to form around the league about him - Garroich writes that piece about Larsson maybe being a trade piece but teams are wary because of his slow decision making.  When he finally gets into the lineup though, things appear different.  His breakout passes aren't as special, but he's no longer holding on to the puck as long - he's using the glass and the boards occasionally.  He's not taking huge hits seemingly every game.  His gap control isn't horrible, he's not getting turned around as often, and he really looks strong on the boards.  In addition, in the offensive zone he's not holding the puck looking for an open stick - the 'deflectable shot' that everyone talked about is gone.  Adam's just getting the puck and ripping it when he has a chance, generally.   It's again a small sample but the numbers are telling an interesting story for Adam this year - he's breaking even despite very difficult assignments.  He broke even in 2012-13 too, except that team was much better than this team - his Corsi Rel is positive this year, way negative that year.  And I haven't talked about his PK work which is generally very strong.

 

We'll see how the offense develops - recent numbers notwithstanding, I don't think he's all of the sudden going to turn into a dynamo there, but he didn't look awful when put on the power play recently, and I think with his speed he'll always be prone to short handed breakaways against if he does play there regularly.  He's still developed into a formidable player right when NJ needs it - because for as good as Larsson and Severson have looked, Merrill and Gelinas have not.  

Devils sign C Joseph Blandisi to Entry Level Contract

14 January 2015 - 11:55 AM

I know there's been some talk in the Prospect Thread about this, but I imagine not everyone goes there, and it's been a pretty slow week anyway.

 

Blandisi is 20 years old and is tearing up the OHL as an overage player - he has 30 goals and 39 assists in 39 games.  He was a 6th round draft pick of the Avalanche in 2012, but for one reason or another he wasn't signed there.  I never have high hopes for overage players but he may have turned a corner so who knows.

Best-Case and Worst-Case Scenarios For The Rest Of 2014-15

07 January 2015 - 12:32 PM

We're seeing the Devils turn it around here - as I noted somewhere else, the Devils have not allowed 30 shots in a game since DeBoer was fired.  They haven't been shooting the doors off themselves, but they weren't doing that under DeBoer either. That said, they still find themselves 8 points out of a playoff spot and that team has 2 games in hand.  I don't think a playoff berth is in the cards, but the Devils have to play the rest of these games.  

 

Worst Case Scenario:  The Devils go on a huge run through the rest of January and February spurred by great performances out of Jagr and Elias.  They don't make any significant moves at the trade deadline and end up faltering down the stretch and don't make the playoffs, finishing just out.  This is unlikely but is obviously the worst case scenario - it means a lower draft pick for a few weeks of hope.

 

Worse Case Scenario:  The Devils fall apart completely and finish below #4 and draft very high.  The Devils are not that bad of a team.  Right now they are 5th worst in the league with a points percentage of .440.  Still, Buffalo is at .378 and Edmonton is at .329.  If they finish below either team, it either means Schneider was hurt, or he was bad, that the offense completely fell apart, and that the defense failed to continue to develop.  I think 2 of these things would have to go wrong for the Devils to finish in the bottom 3.  

 

Better Case Scenario:  The Devils pull it together, Schneider goes on an amazing run, and this team somehow pulls back into playoff contention and gets there.  This can't happen without Schneider playing outstanding hockey and while this will hurt the Devils long-term, it also can't happen without some contributions by younger Devils - it's a long hill to climb, and everyone's going to have to pitch in to get there.  We know this team doesn't have any superstars.

 

Best Case Scenario:  The Devils get a little better, but not enough to credibly consider themselves in the playoff race.  They trade away the guys they have to trade away and finish right around where they are now.  Schneider ends up having a good season, Kinkaid too, and the young D finishes out the year strong; the offense just isn't there enough nights.  NJ picks between 4th and 7th overall in the draft.

NJ's Drafts: Before And After, 2000-10

01 January 2015 - 03:58 PM

Everyone here talks about the issues the Devils have had with drafting, and at first glance it's hard to blame them.  The Devils simply don't have an impact forward under 25 in their system.  They've got Henrique, who is a good player, and Boucher, who I think will be a good player, and a mix of guys who've got some NHL potential.  Still, none of these players are the kind that win championships - they're the guys that add to the guys that win championships.

 

What we also know is that the Devils have usually drafted late.  They have picked late in the first round or not at all, because in this decade they were one of the winningest teams in hockey, and they were shoring up their team with some of their first round picks.  So I decided to look at the best 7 forwards drafted before NJ got their chance to pick, who NJ picked, and the best 7 forwards drafted after NJ picked.  It's to make it clear just how stark the difference is.

 

2000:  

Heatley

Gaborik

Hartnell

Frolov

Torres

Marcel Hossa

Kolanos

 

Devils draft D David Hale 21st overall

 

After:  

Boyes

Ju. Williams

Vermette

Stoll

D. Moore

Lombardi

Gaustad

 

Comments:  What a brutal year for forwards - the only true top liners were Heatley and Gaborik, with Williams and Hartnell being fringe top liners.

 

2001:  

Kovalchuk

Spezza

Weiss

M. Koivu

Hemsky

T. Ruutu

Umberger

 

Devils draft C Adrian Foster 28th overall

 

After:  

D. Roy

Cammalleri

Pominville

Plekanec

Sharp

J. Jokinen

Clowe

 

Comments:  This is a year where the forwards taken after can hang with the forwards drafted before - my belief that Kovalchuk isn't all he's cracked up to be is well-documented on this board, Spezza's kinda the same.  Roy was taken only a few picks after Foster - he was a top 30 center while playing for some mediocre Buffalo teams

 

2002:  

R. Nash

Lupul

P. Bouchard

Semin

A. Steen

C. Higgins

Stoll

 

Devils draft D Anton Kadeykin 51st overall

 

After:  

Stajan

Hudler

Fleischmann

Lombardi

Filppula

F. Nielsen

G. Campbell

 

Comments:  Nash and Semin are top line forwards, Lupul has scored a bunch despite being rotten defensively.  Hudler, Filppula, and Nielsen are fine forwards, but I'm taking those top 7 over the bottom 7.

 

2003:  

E. Staal

Horton

Vanek

M. Michalek

J. Carter

D. Brown

Zherdev

 

Devils draft LW/C Zach Parise 17th overall

 

After:  

Getzlaf

Kesler

M. Richards

Perry

L. Eriksson

P. Bergeron

Pavelski

 

Comments:  What an amazing draft.  I believe all 7 players taken after Parise played for their country's team at the Olympics at some point.  Obviously the Devils got one of the best players, if not the best player, out of this draft.

 

2004:  

Ovechkin

Malkin

Ladd

Wheeler

Stafford

Radulov

Korpikoski

 

Devils draft C Travis Zajac 20th overall

 

After:  

Bolland

Grabovski

Brouwer

Dubinsky

Krejci

Franzen

Callahan

 

Comments:  I think Zajac is probably the 2nd best forward left in this draft when NJ took him.  There's some good players in this draft even so.  Franzen's the last ultra overager forward taken, thankfully. 

 

2005:  

Crosby

B. Ryan

Kopitar

Hanzal

Setoguchi

B. Pouliot

Skille

 

NJ drafts Nicklas Bergfors 23rd overall

 

After:  

Oshie

Neal

Pa. Stastny

Raymond

Hornqvist

Helm

S. Kostitsyn

 

Comments:  Neal is a star, Stastny is real good, Hornqvist is really good, but there's not a ton here, either up top or in the lower area.

 

2006:

Jo. Staal

Toews

Backstrom

Kessel

Okposo

Giroux

Little

 

Devils draft D Matt Corrente 30th overall

 

After:  

Lucic

Anisimov

Kulemin

Marchand

M. Perreault

Clutterbuck

Stalberg

 

Comments:  This one puts into stark relief just how hard it is to draft low sometimes.  The top 7 forwards taken before NJ drafted are all stars or borderline stars.  I had to exclude Brassard and Patrik Berglund who are good players too.  Meanwhile Marchand and Lucic are very good players but the rest of the guys are no one's idea of difference makers.

 

2007:  

P. Kane

J. Van Riemsdyk

Turris

Voracek

Couture

Pacioretty

Perron

 

Devils draft LW Mike Hoeffel 57th overall

 

After:  

Simmonds

Killorn

Ja. Benn

Hagelin

Bonino

Dw. King

Halischuk

 

Comments:  Again, pretty much all the good forwards are gone.  Jamie Benn is a star, Simmonds is a good player, but the rest are pure complements.

 

2008:  

Stamkos

Wilson

Eberle

Jo. Bailey

Boedker

Hodgson

Colborne

 

Devils draft LW Mattias Tedenby 24th overall

 

After:  

Ennis

Stepan

Henrique

Nyquist

Atkinson

Wingels

Calvert

 

Comments:  Hey, a forward NJ drafted shows up here!  And indeed, this top group isn't great.

 

2009:  

Tavares

E. Kane

Duchene

B. Schenn

Kadri

Kreider

Holland

 

NJ drafts Jacob Josefson 20th overall.

 

After:  

M. Johansson

K. Palmieri

R. O’Reilly

Silfverberg

Tatar

R. Smith

C. Smith

 

Comments:  We're getting to the point where these are hard to evaluate because it's hard to say what people like Palmieri and Reilly Smith are.

 

2010:  

T. Hall

Seguin

Skinner

Mi. Granlund

Schwartz

Tarasenko

B. Nelson

 

Devils draft D Jon Merrill 38th overall

 

After:  

Toffoli

Gallagher

Pulkinnen

Zucker

Smith-Pelly

M. Stone

Jarnkrok

 
Comments:  This doesn't look like a great group of forwards either taken after Merrill.  I think they're all NHLers but none are stars.  We'll see.  Those top 7, 3 are special already, Skinner and Granlund look great, and Nelson is having a heck of a season now too.