Devils’ biggest question: Will their young defense measure up?
One of the biggest questions for the New Jersey Devils heading into the 2015-16 season surrounds the youth and inexperience the club has on its blue line.
With Adam Larsson, John Moore, Eric Gelinas, Jon Merrill and Damon Severson, New Jersey could have as many as five defensemen 24 or younger on the back end to start the season.
The Devils will expect more out of Larsson who signed a new six-year, $25 million deal last month.
The 22-year-old had a strong second half last season scoring two goals and 18 assists in the final 40 games after registering just 13 points in his previous 85 games dating back to the 2012-13 season.
“I think he’s only scratched the surface of the kind of player he’s going to be,” GM Ray Shero said per The Bergen Record. “There’s a reason he was drafted when he was. He’s got a lot of experience already. He’s played a lot of ice time on the (penalty kill) and 5-on-5. He hasn’t had the chance to play a lot on the power play, yet.”
Shero could also go out and add a veteran in free agency.
According to Generalfanager.com, New Jersey currently has over $14 million cap space.
With a plethora of unrestricted free agent defensemen available, perhaps Shero could add blue liner or two on a camp invite.
“We’re looking to be in touch with some (player) agents for some free agents. Or with some teams. Or maybe the possibility of a tryout with one or two guys in training camp,” Shero said. “Some guys are still trying to get contracts.
“There’s plenty of time there, but you’re always looking to see what’s there. And if it’s something that makes sense for us, we’ll jump in. If not, we’ll go into training camp with what we have and see what’s available after that.”
Goaltender Cory Schneider knows he’ll play a role in helping out his young blue line.
“We’re in transition somewhat, but (I’ll) hopefully be a calming presence and a veteran presence, even though I feel I’m a young 29,” he told NJ Advance Media. “I hope to put my mark on a franchise and organization and hopefully carry them to a Stanley Cup one day.”
Related: New Jersey Devils ’15-16 Outlook