Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The New Jersey Devils.
The New Jersey Devils made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, but there were some major concerns going into the 2013 campaign. Not the least of which was their aging goaltending duo of Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg, who turned 41 and 40 respectively in May.
On top of that, they lost forward Zach Parise to the Minnesota Wild in the summer of 2012 and Adam Henrique was still a question mark despite a standout rookie season.
At first none of that seemed to faze them as they got off to a 8-1-3 start. However, New Jersey struggled offensively and began a gradual decline that turned into a free fall when Ilya Kovalchuk suffered a shoulder injury. Kovalchuk missed 11 straight games and the Devils lost 10 of them -- a fact which carries even greater weight now.
The Devils bounced back when the Russian superstar rejoined them, but it was too late. New Jersey finished with 48 points in 48 games, putting them seven shy of the playoffs.
Their summer did start out on a positive note. The longstanding question of who would take over for Brodeur was answered when they acquired goaltender Cory Schneider from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for the ninth selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft (Bo Horvat).
They also managed to re-sign Patrik Elias to a three-year, $16.5 million deal and while the Devils lost David Clarkson, they attempted to replace his offense and grit with free agents Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder.
Then Ilya Kovalchuk “retired” so he could head to the KHL. The move sent shock waves through the hockey world and while getting out of that 15-year, $100 million contract might actually be beneficial in the long-term, it certainly leaves a huge gap in their offense right now. They couldn’t replace Kovalchuk, but they did get some help by signing Jaromir Jagr.
As if their summer wasn’t eventful enough, Joshua Harris and David Blitzer purchased the New Jersey Devils from former owner Jeff Vanderbeek. Harris and Blitzer both work for private equity firms and each own a stake in the Philadelphia 76ers.