Back in 2011-2012, the New Jersey Devils made an unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Final. Since then, they haven’t even made the playoffs.
If that last deep run wasn’t the end of an era, then the 2015 off-season certainly stood as one, with long-time head honcho Lou Lamoriello making way for current GM Ray Shero.
In typical Devils fashion, New Jersey was scrappy last season, yet 2015-16 was rough. While they managed an “above .500 record” (38-36-8), they finished with the fifth-worst record in the East and unusually putrid possession numbers.
Trading in optimism
It isn’t all bad for the Devils and their fans, though.
They’ve added some very nice pieces via trades during the last few years. Cory Schneider, Kyle Palmieri and now Taylor Hall didn’t come cheaply ... yet all three sure seem worth it at the moment.
In the case of Hall and Schneider in particular, they’re a great one-two punch of talent and value at $6 million apiece for the near future.
With Palmieri and Hall in addition to the likes of Adam Henrique, the Devils’ offense is starting to come together after years of struggling following the exits of Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk.
That’s especially true if Pavel Zacha can make the NHL jump and Beau Bennett ends up being a successful reclamation project.
Trading Adam Larsson from their defense corps hurts, yet the Devils tend to manufacture defense better than most. Even so, that group stands as the biggest mystery.
Expectations might be muted in Newark, but don’t sleep on Hall and the increasingly promising Devils.