Comparison: 2013-14 Devils Have Improved From Forgettable 2013 Season


There is no question that the New Jersey Devils of 2013-14 are a completely different team than the year prior. Players have come and gone, looking to try new things in a new city, but the Devils have built a solid team for the next season.

With losses including David Clarkson, Johan Hedberg, Ilya Kovalchuk, Henrik Tallinder, Alexei Ponikarovsky, as well as some less-important players, the Devils needed to fill some holes and reconstruct a pitiful 28th ranked offense.

The Devils have done exactly what they needed to do; fix scoring problems during both even strength and on the power play. By adding Ryane Clowe, Jaromir Jagr, Michael Ryder, and Cory Schneider, the Devils have built a strong foundation that will produce goals and win more games.
Apr 27, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New Jersey Devils right wing Ilya Kovalchuk (17) looks to pass the puck against the New York Rangers during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
Many have doubted the Devils since the sudden retirement of Kovalchuk, saying how the Devils cannot score without him and are hopeless. Wrong, the Devils are a much-improved team than last season.

The loss of Kovalchuk hurts the Devils, as well as Clarkson, but the new faces make up for them. Here’s why.

Comparing the forward losses to the three major forward additions, the Devils have made up for their losses and some.

Losses: Clarkson, D’Agostini, Kovalchuk, Ponikarovsky, and Sullivan combined for:
40 Goals, 47 Assists, 87 Points, 142 Penalty Minutes, and a -30 plus/minus.

Additions: Clowe, Jagr, and Ryder combined for:
35 Goals, 57 Assists, 92 Points, 123 Penalty Minutes, and a +1 plus/minus.
Apr 4, 2013; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens right wing Michael Ryder (73) scores a goal against Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec (31) during the first period at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
Yes, the players the Devils lost may have scored more goals, but there are two more players than the additions, as well as 67 more games played. The Devils are no doubt improving their roster with these new players, and are looking to be a well-rounded team in 2013-14.

Now on to the power play. Like before, the stats of the power play have been compared, but only for the three major losses compared to the additions.

Losses: Clarkson, Kovalchuk, and Sullivan combined for:
12 Power Play Goals and 18 Power Play Assists for 30 Points

Additions: Clowe, Jagr, and Ryder combined for:
15 Power Play Goals and 17 Power Play Assists for 32 Points.

Clowe was a weak link on the man-advantage last season, only posting a goal and three assists, but with that the Devils still have gained more with their additions.

With the comparison of losses to additions, the Devils are a bigger offensive threat, while upgrading goaltending, and keeping the defense primarily the same. The power play has been majorly upgraded and should be more effective. Every loss that the Devils have had this off-season have been fulfilled. Clowe makes up for the physicality of Clarkson as well as some scoring, Jagr and Ryder take over Clarky and Kovy’s scoring, and they also make up for their power play presence.
Feb 28, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks right wing Ryane Clowe (29) checks Detroit Red Wings center Cory Emmerton (25) during the second period at HP Pavilion. The Detroit Red Wings defeated the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
The Devils talents are now evenly spread out now. Previously they put most of their goals in one stick with Kovalchuk on the ice. The equal scoring distribution leaves teams trying to defend everyone rather than focusing on just one player.

However, hockey is more than a game of statistics. In my opinion, chemistry on the ice is more important than stats themselves.

Kovalchuk did not seem to be well liked in the locker room and took the Devils away from their style of play. At times he seemed to be lazy and was a defensive liability. Teammates like Devils all time leading scorer Patrik Elias seemed to feel uncomfortable with Kovy ever since he arrived.

Now, arguably two of the best Czech players ever to play the game, Elias and Jagr, are united and most-likely will play on the same line. Elias has shown excitement with Jagr joining the team and vice-versa. That’s chemistry.

The Devils will be an exciting team to watch in 2013-14, even with the loss of Kovalchuk they will still do exactly what Ryder said after joining the Devils, “Turn some heads.”