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Building a Contender


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I had a much better post written out last night and when I went to post it deleted. Anyway:

The premise was despite the Devils needing an entire top line, that could take 3 years or longer to build. The fastest way to improve is to remove the blackholes. Idea was sparked by SM in chat last night. Remove Fraser, Zubrus, Gelinas for starters and replace them with "replacement level" players. Someone who can at least pull their own weight.

NJ is in a tricky situation. Half the fanbase sees the glass half full; 2/3 full actually, as BB keeps saying. Defense and goalie have been gutted over the course of three years into a strength. Schneider, Merrill, Larsson, and Severson here now with a platoon of others (Santini, Jacobs, etc.) waiting in the wings.

Others have an opinion of NJ being beyond doomed with no forwards, no significant forward prospects, and no reason to believe that'll change with Conte's draft record of the last decade. They feel the last drops of water have evaporated a couple years ago.

The Devils should be doing everything they can to acquire top talent. Whether or not they are able to land it, NJ should focus on improving the bottom five players on the roster as Bill Parcells was obsessed with. The forward corps is weak right now. If they can be improved to mediocre, add the right coach, and Schneider posts a .925% this team will be in the mix next year.

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If NJ comes out of the gate with

Greene Larsson

Severson Merrill

Oduya Hrabarenka

in front of Schneider, you'll be hard pressed to find a team with better D and goalie out of the playoffs

 

Other than the fact that he has put up good point totals in Albany, it seems like most of us have no idea whether Hrabranka is a legitimate NHL defenseman.  That a team that is fielding Harrold and Fraser on the blueline hasn't felt he's worthy of a call-up suggests that there's a lot less to him than meets the eye.

 

I suppose that people will make the inevitable Nashville comparison, but that only goes so far.  Their blue-line is definitely better than the Devils, and people often overlook the absolute steal they got in Forsberg.  While those types of trades are bound to happen again, and there's some chance the Devils will be the beneficiary of one it's not something you can pin your hopes on.  (I have been raising the idea of making a low ball offer for Kessel, but the chances of Toronto being desperate enough to take it are not that great). 

 

Unless the Devils win the draft lottery, I think it's going to be a hard slog to getting back to being a contender.  Let's just hope that in the interim the Rangers don't manage to win the Cup.  (I'll take the Flyers winning three cups in a row over seeing the Rangers winning one for the rest of my life). 

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Other than the fact that he has put up good point totals in Albany, it seems like most of us have no idea whether Hrabranka is a legitimate NHL defenseman.  That a team that is fielding Harrold and Fraser on the blueline hasn't felt he's worthy of a call-up suggests that there's a lot less to him than meets the eye.

 

True, although I'll give Devils Pride 26 the benefit of the doubt, that Hrabarenka spot could essentially be any of the 3-4 guys that are fighting for that spot next camp. Santini, Jacobs, even Helgeson (it's not outlandish to think he can improve a few facets of his game in the next few months) could push for that position; a good problem to have. But yeah, would love to have Oduya back to balance things out. And it's not too crazy to think Merrill had a sophomore slump but could return to his 2013-2014 form, and that Severson-Merrill line would be a really good one. And Greene-Larsson, there aren't too many unknowns there anymore, I don't think. Love that line.

Edited by DJ Eco
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True, although I'll give Devils Pride 26 the benefit of the doubt, that Hrabarenka spot could essentially be any of the 3-4 guys that are fighting for that spot next camp. Santini, Jacobs, even Helgeson (it's not outlandish to think he can improve a few facets of his game in the next few months) could push for that position; a good problem to have. But yeah, would love to have Oduya back to balance things out. And it's not too crazy to think Merrill had a sophomore slump but could return to his 2013-2014 form, and that Severson-Merrill line would be a really good one. And Greene-Larsson, there aren't too many unknowns there anymore, I don't think. Love that line.

 

Jacobs is at least two years away from sniffing an NHL roster, and that's an enormous longshot to the point that one should be thinking about the 2017-2018 season at the earliest.  All indications are that Santini will be staying at BC for another year.  And while offense isn't supposed to be his game, the complete lack of point production on a good team is troubling enough for the layman. 

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Jacobs is at least two years away from sniffing an NHL roster, and that's an enormous longshot to the point that one should be thinking about the 2017-2018 season at the earliest. All indications are that Santini will be staying at BC for another year. And while offense isn't supposed to be his game, the complete lack of point production on a good team is troubling enough for the layman.

Santini missed a good chunk of time with the broken wrist. I'd imagine that factors into his lack of offensive production.
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True, although I'll give Devils Pride 26 the benefit of the doubt, that Hrabarenka spot could essentially be any of the 3-4 guys that are fighting for that spot next camp. Santini, Jacobs, even Helgeson (it's not outlandish to think he can improve a few facets of his game in the next few months) could push for that position; a good problem to have. But yeah, would love to have Oduya back to balance things out. And it's not too crazy to think Merrill had a sophomore slump but could return to his 2013-2014 form, and that Severson-Merrill line would be a really good one. And Greene-Larsson, there aren't too many unknowns there anymore, I don't think. Love that line.

As long as the 6 plays like a 6 we're fine. Call it Helgeson, whoever. Just as long as they don't throw up all over themselves like Gelinas and Fraser do, that's a stingy D.

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Where is the offense coming from?  Devs are so bad offensively I cannot see a fix this off season.  the shot totals the devs give up are scarey, and this all relates back to how bad the offense is, NJ cannot keep the puck, so how do you score?

 

and winning the lottery does NOT solve all the problems, we have maybe 2 top 6 skaters, thats embarrassing!!

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If NJ comes out of the gate with

Greene Larsson

Severson Merrill

Oduya Hrabarenka

in front of Schneider, you'll be hard pressed to find a team with better D and goalie out of the playoffs

......I hope you're being facetious. That is silliest statement I've ever heard on a website full of silly statements.

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Where is the offense coming from?  Devs are so bad offensively I cannot see a fix this off season.  the shot totals the devs give up are scarey, and this all relates back to how bad the offense is, NJ cannot keep the puck, so how do you score?

 

and winning the lottery does NOT solve all the problems, we have maybe 2 top 6 skaters, thats embarrassing!!

 

Here's the thing though, in 2012-2013 the shot discrepancies were very favorable to the Devils, to the point that a lot of people said that with better goaltending overall and better shoot-out performance (both of which we got), the Devils were a bona fide playoff contender.

 

It's hard to blame it on the coaching, since the possession numbers were pretty awful when DeBoer was the coach.  The roster isn't that much different from last year, and, arguably was a little better on paper (no Salvador for most of the year, adding Cammalleri, Severson and a much improved Larsson).

 

Is it really that a couple of key players are one year older?  It wasn't like Zubrus was anything special last year, and Elias had some rough patches, but his play didn't really fall off a cliff. 

 

Hopefully these are questions that will be asked within the organization. 

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Here's the thing though, in 2012-2013 the shot discrepancies were very favorable to the Devils, to the point that a lot of people said that with better goaltending overall and better shoot-out performance (both of which we got), the Devils were a bona fide playoff contender.

It's hard to blame it on the coaching, since the possession numbers were pretty awful when DeBoer was the coach. The roster isn't that much different from last year, and, arguably was a little better on paper (no Salvador for most of the year, adding Cammalleri, Severson and a much improved Larsson).

Is it really that a couple of key players are one year older? It wasn't like Zubrus was anything special last year, and Elias had some rough patches, but his play didn't really fall off a cliff.

Hopefully these are questions that will be asked within the organization.

It's a combination of getting older and guys like Ryder and Brunner not only not having rebound years, but getting worse

Elias is a lot worse, Zubrus went from an overplayed fourth liner to an overplayed sub NHL level player. Jagr declined, still a very good player, but him getting even noticeably worse killed Zajac offensively.

Edited by SMantzas
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First things first, you hire a good coach with a system that makes the players better.

 

Problem is, this is what we've been doing for awhile, what its generally doing though... its cranking the hard working bottom 6 guys production and they are playing better but its holding back the skilled guys.

They won 3 cups that way.

 

The league has change now though

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In addition, the point of this thread is for NJ to improve their weakest links. This year the top dogs were well behind the top dogs around the league and the bottom players were much worse than than most teams bottom players.

Obviously it's going to take years to overhaul the top line, but it takes months to overhaul the bottom of the barrel.

Becoming a contender is going to be a process. The Devils aren't going to be a contender next year. But, they can take a step in the right direction. Next year if the forwards go from god awful to merely mediocre, they are a team on the bubble.

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They won 3 cups that way.

 

late 90's early 00's Devils had plenty of offense.

 

You people who think the league has changed are so cute.  It's like you repeat something often enough it just becomes true.

 

it has changed - just not necessarily the way people are trying to use it as an argument. most teams now don't wantingly go in with a useless 4th line made up of pluggers. goals are down. powerplays are down. speed is allowed to operate more with less clutch and grab, goalies are better.

 

what, i think, you're slighting some posters for are those that say, it's not about defense and goalies, you need scorers and offense and lou doesn't know anything about that. that is obviously silly all around. every cup team has had very good to excellent goaltending and has done well to suppress shots, get shots of their own and has a decent shooting percentage. this year, the devils have excellent goaltending and a good shooting percentage. they're terrible at shot suppression and getting their own shots.

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They're actually not terrible at shot suppression - they're just middle of the pack.  Even if you go to road shots against the team is still only 23rd.  I think with a good coach that would get better, and especially ditching both Fraser and Gelinas.

 

The way the game has changed is that a mobile defense is more necessary - teams are faster up front and while interference is coming back into style as a defensive MO, the free-for-all battles in front of the net aren't coming back.  So your big pylon Ds, which were of negligible value years ago anyway, are even less valuable now, especially since there are fewer power plays/penalty kills.  

 

The idea that the Devils were built from the net and defense out isn't really borne out by a ton of evidence - those teams had some terrific forwards.

 

With top players getting less and less ice time, the idea of having 12 good forwards is more in vogue than it ever was (and this may have been the real strength of the Devils of that era - playing 26-27 minutes against those NJ teams in the mid 90s could not have been easy), and this is a founding principle of the Devils.

 

.  

Edited by Triumph
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Problem is, this is what we've been doing for awhile, what its generally doing though... its cranking the hard working bottom 6 guys production and they are playing better but its holding back the skilled guys.

The league has change now though

Yeah the league has changed so much, there's even less scoring now than there was then. Go figure. Edited by MadDog2020
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The league hasn't changed much, but just because the strength is defense and goaltending doesn't mean you are set up well when the offense is atrocious and has no sign of getting better.

 

Defense is about 5 guys on the ice. It absolutely helps to have Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, Brian Rafalski, etc, but the best defense is when the puck is in the other team's zone.  The Devils had one of the best goaltending seasons in franchise history, and you could potentially add prime Scott Stevens or Brian Rafalski back there, and they still might not be a playoff team.

 

The Devils went from went from 2nd best corsi% to 25th in one season. That's an incredible fall, and not one due to a younger defense settling in. I've read that. Mark Fayne and Anton Volchenkov leaving didn't hurt the team to anything close to that extent.

 

If Lou can't figure out what's wrong with this team, and if he loves the current system and the role players, well this team is going to be in bad shape for a long time.

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