To get you ready for the 2015-16 season, we will be previewing all 30 NHL in 30 days, division by division. Check the bottom of the page for a schedule of each preview.
Today’s team: New Jersey Devils
2014-15 record: 32-36-14, 7th in the Metropolitan
How they finished: Did not make the playoffs
Coach: John Hynes (1st season)
Notable additions: D John Moore, C Kyle Palmieri
Notable subtractions: RW Steve Bernier, C Scott Gomez, D Peter Harrold, RW Michael Ryder, D Bryce Salvador, LW Dainius Zubrus
Schedule against the Capitals: Sat. Oct. 10 at Washington, Sat. Feb. 6 at New Jersey, Sat. Feb. 20 at Washington, Fri. Mar. 25 at New Jersey
Outlook: First-year coach John Hynes has his work cut out for him as he takes over a Devils team in transition.
Here's the good news: goaltending is not an issue and the defense is improving.
Corey Schneider provides stability in net and still managed good numbers last season despite New Jersey's dismal year.
Of the six defensemen expected to get the bulk of the playing time this season, five of them are 24 or younger. Eric Gelinas, Adam Larsson, Jon Merrill and Damon Severson all gained valuable experience last season and return as the team's young core. Greene is 32, but still likely commands a spot on the top pairing. The addition of John Moore, 24, puts the pieces in place for what could over time become one of the top defenses in the NHL.
Here's the bad news: who the heck is going to score on this team?
The Devils finished 28th in the league last season in goals per game with 2.15 and two of New Jersey's top five point producers from last season, Scott Gomez and Steve Bernier, are gone. Only two Devils managed more than 40 points last season and no one had more than 50. Just to put that into perspective, the Caps had six players with more than 40 points and three with more than 50.
New Jersey has not had a 30-goal scorer since 2012.
As the Devils start to transition to a younger roster and a first-year coach, it is time for Adam Henrique to assert himself. Henrique has yet to surpass the 51 points he tallied in his rookie season in 2011-12. If he wants to become the superstar player the Devils hoped he could be, it needs to happen sooner rather than later.
New Jersey will also have a choice to make before the start of the season with prospect Pavel Zacha. The Devils selected him sixth-overall in the 2015 Draft, but find themselves in the same position the Caps were in with Tom Wilson. Zacha can play in the OHL or the NHL, but not the AHL. Do they let their 18-year-old future playmaker develop in the OHL or does a team starved for offense risk bringing him to the big leagues?
Despite some of the older veterans who are still sticking around such as Patrick Elias and Mike Cammalleri, clearly this team is focused on getting younger. At 40 years old, Hynes is the youngest head coach in the NHL. He has spent the last five seasons coaching in the AHL where development is a must. Will that help him reach the young players the Devils are building around? You bet.
Expectations: With an established goaltender and improving defense, the Devils look to be just an offense away from turning the corner. Hynes has promised New Jersey will become a more aggressive, attacking team, but this will take some time. The Devils were 20 points short of the last wild card spot last season and I don't see them making that kind of a leap in what is going to be a very competitive Metropolitan Division this year.
The pieces are coming together in New Jersey, but I don't see Hynes in his first season as an NHL head coach being able to turn things around that quickly.
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