The forwards for the New Jersey Devils had a mediocre season at best. Ranking 28th in the NHL in goals per game is extremely poor. Here are the grades for the Devils forwards:
Patrik Elias - B+
The 37-year-old had the best season for the Devils and was easily the MVP, in my opinion. He led the team in points with 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists), but should easily have had 20 goals. There was a stretch of the season where Elias could not hit the broad side of a barn.
Ilya Kovalchuk - B
Although he was injured for 11 games down the stretch, Kovalchuk did not impress much. After an 83 point season in 77 games in 2011-2012, Kovalchuk only posted 31 points in 37 games in the shortened season. one thing I noticed out of Kovy was his improved defensive game. Also, with the loss of Zach Parise, Kovy needed to step up his forechecking and cause some disturbance for the other team.
David Clarkson - B-
After the scorching hot start to the season with 10 goals in 14 games, Clarkson went into hibernation. In the 14 games following that start, Clarkson only netted one goal, and only had four more for the rest of the season. Clarkson was a huge part of the Devils offense early in the season, but when he stopped producing, the Devils started losing.
Travis Zajac - C
Zajac signed an eight-year, 46 million dollar contract extension. However, he failed to produce for that price. With only 20 points in all 48 games, Zajac simply could not produce over the course of the season.
One thing I was pleased with Zajac was his face-off win percentage. Zajac was one of the few Devils who could win a face-off consistently.
Adam Henrique - C-
Can anyone say sophomore slump??? Henrique was a big let down this season after his breakthrough rookie season last year. The Calder trophy finalist had only 16 points in the entire season. Huge difference from this season and his 51 point season last year.
Steve Bernier - B
Bernier had an astronomically better season than last year. His hard work and toughness created many opportunities for his line-mates and for himself. The former 16th overall pick in 2003 had eight goals and seven assists in 47 games this year. Bernier saw some power play time, as well as movement up the depth chart. However, I still believe he plays his best hockey on a line with Stephen Gionta and Ryan Carter.
Stephen Gionta - B+
Gio was a big force this year for the Devils fourth line. The 5-foot 7-inch center worked his butt off this year. He remained on the same pace as he did in last years Stanley Cup playoffs (24 games, 3 goals, 4 assists) by recording 14 points in 48 games in 2013. Gionta was also one of three forwards with a positive plus/minus (+2), in 30 games or more. The other two were Patrik Elias (+5) and Alexei Ponikarovsky (+1). Gionta was also one of the hardest hitters on the team and never backed down from anyone on the ice.
Ryan Carter - B
The final piece of the fourth-line from last years Stanley Cup run had a solid year in the role he played. In 44 games with the Devils, Carter had 15 points. Carter along with Gionta and Bernier, were the hardest workers on the team. They never failed to pressure the other team. Also, for a fourth-line, they scored a lot this season.
Andrei Loktionov - B+
Loktionov had a great stint with the Devils in 2013. After being acquired from the Los Angeles Kings, Loktionov produced right away for the Devils. He has great talent and potential and also brings a great work ethic to the team. Loktionov has a knack of finding the right place on the ice. He will be a solid player for the Devils over the next few seasons.
Dainius Zubrus - B-
Zubrus was out for most of the season. Only playing 22 games, Zub had two goals and seven assists. He brings a lot more to the table than that. The 6’5″ Lithuanian veteran is a leader in the locker room and gives the Devils some size.
Alexei Ponikarovsky - C-
After being re-acquired from the Winnipeg Jets, the Poni-express was not a factor. Only scoring two goals in 30 games made him a non-factor for opposing teams.
Steve Sullivan - B-
Sullivan was not on the Devils for long. Only playing nine games late in 2013, Sullivan had five points and was a large part of the power play. But Sullivan did not do all that well in that role. Also, after he was acquired the Devils lost 10-straight games.
Matt D’Agostini - C
D’Agostini may not have had a long enough term with the Devils this season, but for the time that he was in New Jersey he did not impress. However, D’Agostini was not brought here to be a star, only to add depth which he did do.
Jacob Josefson - D
Josefson was just plain horrible this year. In fact, the Devils sent him back down to Albany to “find himself” and get his confidence level up. When he did come back he had two points in the final five games, but still had a poor season overall.
As you can see, the Devils goal scorers did not do the best this season. Hopefully Lou Lamoriello can get some weapons in the offense for next season. Ranked 28th in goal scoring this season is sad and should not be tolerated.