Monday, August 15, 2016

2017 Pool Projections: New Jersey

The swamp is a mysterious place and I think the New Jersey Devils are going to be one of those mysterious teams in the Eastern Conference, one that no one really knows what to expect and might get lost in their own expectations.

When you look at the roster or the projection table below, you would think to yourself that they have a number one goalie, they acquired a former 1st overall pick, they have some scoring depth at the forward position and then you'd work your way down to the defense and ponder, what am I going to get from them?

Frankly, I think this makes them the most intriguing team before the puck drops on the regular season and I am certainly leaning towards them being a decent team this year.  So much so, I think they have a legitimate shot at a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and they have the goalie that could surprise many.

The Devils don't have a lot of players that 'have done it before,' but they are not short on players that have the potential to do big things and it will be a matter of finding where the chemistry is and who plays better with this guy and so forth.  For me, I don't think I would pass over a Devils player, if he came up on my list.

Player Pos 16/17 Proj Rookie
Cory Schneider G 80 N
Taylor Hall F 75 N
Michael Cammalleri F 60 N
Kyle Palmieri F 55 N
Adam Henrique F 55 N
Travis Zajac F 45 N
Beau Bennett F 35 N
Pavel Zacha F 35 Y
Devante Smith-Pelly F 30 N
Joseph Blandisi F 30 N
Damon Severson D 25 N
Reid Boucher F 25 N
John Moore D 25 N
Jacob Josefson F 25 N
Vernon Fiddler F 20 N
Sergey Kalinin F 20 N
Andy Greene D 20 N
Ben Lovejoy D 20 N
Keith Kinkaid G 15 N
Jon Merrill D 10 N
Blake Pietila F 5 Y
Luke Gazdic F 5 N
Brandon Gormley D 5 N

Table last updated on August 6th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

How can Taylor Hall not be the most intriguing player on this New Jersey Devils roster?  I would think that the 2010 1st overall pick will almost get carte blanche over the style of play and he'll have some players who will compliment a free-wheeling attitude, possibly in a Kyle Palmieri and/or Adam Henrique and this could be a big year for him again.

Hall has had an 80-point year already in his NHL career, so being worthy of a 1st round pick is nothing new for him, but of course, his role with the Oilers was starting to wane and a move to a team in desperate need of a superstar scorer was certainly going to work in his favour.  I am expecting big things from this kid in the swamp.

First Round Picks

With a touch more offense, this could mean that Cory Schneider gets a little bit of run support through the year, as he has kept the Devils in the playoff race, much later into the season, despite falling out fairly late.  The combination of Schneider and Hall could mean some good things for the Devils and the Metropolitan Division will be a good one to test that theory out.  If you get either one of these two outside of the 1st round, you're likely in for a bargain.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

The Devils are certainly forward heavy in these projections, but that is because most of these guys on this list are better established than the defenders they have.  Mike Cammalleri has been around, Kyle Palmieri is no slouch, Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac are not far away from their best numbers they've posted and it will be very interesting to see what Beau Bennett brings to the table and if Pavel Zacha can find that full-time job.

Other Pool Worthy Defense

The loss of Adam Larsson in the Taylor Hall deal is a pretty good blow to the Devils' blueline, but this will open up more opportunity for Damon Severson to emerge, John Moore to solidify his spot and maybe even Andy Greene can bounce back a little bit.  There are some capable players here, but they will have a period of adjustment, after a minute eater gets dealt away.

Goaltending Situation

The Devils will likely start the season with Keith Kinkaid as their number two guy and if the offense is good enough for Cory Schneider, there could be some improvement for the back-up, making him into somewhat of a serviceable replacement on back-to-back nights.  If it came down to it, Kinkaid could end up being a very reasonable pick.

Team To Pick From?

You're probably going to be hesitant about picking a Devils player late, especially since you may not see them all the time.  They are not a huge draw out west here.  If you're out there rolling the dice on someone, I think you'll get great odds here and they'll offer a decent return for the chance.

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

Salary CapStill some curiosity about what Patrik Elias is going to do for the upcoming season, as he remains an unrestricted free agent, but going through these posts, there are a number of elder statesmen that have yet to find a home.  Jiri Tlusty and Tuomo Ruutu are two more on the Devils' list that have yet to find work.

Even with taking on salary for a return, the Devils are running lean, leaving $11 million in cap space for a projected 25-man roster (including two retired/injured players).  If they were not such a budget team, they would be big players in the free agent market.


Sounds like everyone is in the clear and ready to rock and roll for the new season.

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