Likely one of the stranger stories heading into this season was that the Devils were doing away with the aged Brodeur, yet they are keeping one of the all-time great scorers, Jaromir Jagr, who will turn 43 during the 2015 season, around for another year. Granted, Jagr was the team's best player last season, so there is an argument for it, but the optics still appear to be somewhat strange.
The Devils, as a whole, don't feel like they are a solid team, when you read their projected line-up from top to bottom. This feels like one of the last few years of Lou Lamoriello's career, as he patches a team together and doesn't have much in the way of great talent waiting in the wings. This will definitely lead to some losses of confidence among us poolies and despite their late season push last year, I don't think this team has what it takes, rather I think they may have decreased in the overall team appeal, on paper, at least.
|Forwards||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Defense||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Goaltenders||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit|
|Patrik Elias||65||5.500||Marek Zidlicky||35||3.000||Cory Schneider||70||4.000|
|Jaromir Jagr||55||3.500||Andy Greene||30||3.000||Scott Clemmensen||15||0.600|
|Travis Zajac||50||5.750||Jon Merrill||15||0.840|
|Mike Cammalleri||50||5.000||Bryce Salvador||10||3.167|
|Adam Henrique||45||4.000||Peter Harrold||5||0.800|
|BUYOUTS & OTHER||3.167|
|Reid Boucher||10||0.693||Adam Larsson||25||0.900|
First Round Picks
Currently, I do not have any Devils worthy enough to be an opening round draft pick in a 24-team hockey pool draft, although Cory Schneider comes close with his projection. Schneider should get many more starts for the Devils in 2015 and barring any health issues, he should do okay with those chances, but I don't see the Devils being a playoff team, which will hurt him overall.
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
A close eye heading into draft season will be put on Devils forward Damien Brunner, who received an initial projection of 40 points for the 2015 season, but a good training camp could give him a boost up the ranks. Brunner had a good rookie campaign with the Detroit Red Wings in 2013, but had to move for the 2014 season, thanks to cap constraints in Detroit. Brunner was struck with injury and maybe a small case of the sophomore jinx, finishing with only 25 points in 60 games, but he did show some flashes and should be watched. The initial feeling of 40 points is based on a poor team around him, but I wouldn't count out rising above his teammates in 2015.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
The Devils did pick up a couple new faces in the off-season, but I don't think it was enough to really give a boost to the forwards, although Mike Cammalleri should provide some consistent offense, although he won't go out and make the big three, Patrik Elias, Jaromir Jagr and Travis Zajac, any better. These four will be good pool additions and will be drafted in the end, but don't over-value them. Adam Henrique should also be considered this season, as he looks to recapture the great form he had in 2012.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
The defense isn't boasting a great deal of offense on paper, as Marek Zidlicky gets a bit older (now 37) and Andy Greene being only a decent support defender, I can't see many points coming from the blueline. The Devils have some space on the blueline, which should open the door for the return of Adam Larsson, who spent most of last season in the AHL, working on his overall game.
I think the biggest vote of confidence for Cory Schneider is the acquisition of a career back-up in Scott Clemmensen, who can put some starts together, but won't be leaned on to do so. Schneider will start most of the games, win a good portion of them and the Devils could be a bit more competitive this season. Clemmensen may also be an okay option for the back-up position as well.
Team To Pick From Late?
There are a number of borderline players in the swamp this year, but I can't see their potential being as good as some other teams. The only player that could possibly resurrect his career would be Martin Havlat, but I don't feel too confident in his ability nowadays.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
One significant unsigned restricted free agent left on the books for the Devils, defenseman Eric Gelinas, who could realize a little more potential with a full season. The Devils have spent some money this season, leaving only about $6 million left in cap space for a few roster spots, ample room for a guy like Gelinas, but I'm thinking that management is going to try and get another shrewd deal done here to bridge between deals.
No injuries to mention for the Devils. The elder players will be on injury watch though.