How Good Can the Devils Be This Season?


A season ago, the New Jersey Devils finished with a 35-29-18 record, with 13 of their 18 overtime losses coming by virtue of the shootout.

The Devils’ 2013-14 campaign was marred by their inability to score in the shootout, tallying a mere four goals on 45 attempts. Jersey’s Team tallied 88 points, missing the playoffs by five points, and they they been able to find the net a few more times in the tie-break session, one can only wonder how deep into spring the Devils could have played.

Heading into this season, the New Jersey carries a squad that looks very similar to the team they ended last season with. Minus Mark Fayne and Anton Volchenkov, both of whom departed via free agency this summer, and their all-time greatest player in Martin Brodeur, the Devils’ core group of players remains intact. Goaltender Cory Schneider, whom the Devils acquired on draft day in 2013 with the clear intention of making him the starting goalie in the post-Brodeur era, signed a seven-year/$42 million contract extension in June, while Andy Greene signed a five-year/$25 million contract extension in July.

More from Devils News

General Manager Lou Lamoriello made a splash on the first day of free agency, inking forward Mike Cammelleri to a five-year/$25 million contract on July 1. The 31-year-old has scored 236 goals in 669 career games.

While some believe the Devils have not done enough to improve this off-season, Star-Ledger writer Rich Chere had reported Cammelleri sees his new team turning some heads this season.

"“I think we have a good team. Even talking with the guys, and I’ve talked to a couple guys who are coming in on tryouts that I’ve known from other teams, everyone seems to think this team is going to be better than maybe the outsiders might expect. I think we’re going to be a real good team.”"

Cammelleri’s prediction may not be all that outlandish after all. Considering the Devils missed the playoffs by five points last season, primarily as a result of coming out on the losing end of all 13 shootouts they took part in, reaching the playoffs this season is easily within the realm of possibility. Here’s why:

The Devils have one of the deepest rosters in the NHL

Apr 5, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; New Jersey Devils forward Dainius Zubrus (8) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Carolina Hurricanes in the third period at PNC Arena. The Devils won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

New Jersey didn’t stop at signing Cammelleri this off-season. They also brought on veteran forward Martin Havlat, who has scored 236 goals in 748 career games, although he has not appeared in more than 48 games since 2010-11. The Devils also invited veteran forwards Scott Gomez, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Jordin Tootoo to camp on an unsigned tryout basis, as well as defensemen Tomas Kaberle, Mike Komisarek, and Renat Mamashev. Ryan Carter is also skating with the team despite not currently having a formal contract. 

With 14 forwards currently signed to one-way contracts, although there are no bonafide superstars, the Devils can put four very solid forward lines on the ice night in and night out.

On defense, the Devils have a minimum of nine NHL-caliber point men in camp, possibly more if prospects are taken into consideration.

Look for New Jersey to move a player or two (or more) before the season begins, but having the type of depth the Devils not a bad problem to have, and can go a long way toward returning to the playoffs.

The goaltending situation has been solved

Mar 2, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider (35) makes a save during the second period against the San Jose Sharks at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the Devils had an unwanted sideshow that was their netminders. Both Cory Schneider and Martin Brodeur made it clear that they wanted consistent playing time, putting head coach Peter DeBoer in a predicament that no coach wants to be in. Schneider was clearly the better goalie last season, posting a 1.97 Goals Against Average (compared to Brodeur’s 2.51), yet because of both of them expressing a desire to play more, they found themselves in a platoon situation.

With Brodeur currently out of the picture, and with Schneider inking a contract extension to remain between the pipes for New Jersey for the long term, look for Schneider to build off his stellar season a year ago and provide the Devils with the type of goaltending they’ve become accustomed to over the past 20+ seasons.

New Jersey has prospects ready to make a difference at the NHL level

Jan 3, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils center Reid Boucher (15) takes a shot against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

With the current depth of the NHL roster, Devils prospects may have a tough time cracking the surface come the end of training camp. But as the season goes on, it would be no surprise to see some of New Jersey’s top prospects skating in Newark.

Most notably, forward Reid Boucher and defenseman Damon Severson have made it quite clear that they want a spot on this Devils team, and given their potential, a solid preseason may give them a legitimate shot to make the team. But if they don’t, there is a very good probability that they will be seen at Prudential Center this season.


Let’s face it, the Devils didn’t have much luck last season. They were by far the worst team in the NHL in shootouts, scoring on only 8.9 percent of their shots. Simply winning five of those shootouts would have tied the Devils for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

Scoring in the shootout wasn’t their only issue. As’s Mike Morreale pointed out, the Devils only scored 1.5 goals per every 60 minutes that Schneider was between the pipes, robbing the Devils of a chance to win games that Schneider gave them a chance to win.

Even with minimally better luck alone this season, playoff hockey could make a return to Newark.

How many points will the Devils finish this upcoming season with? Vote in our poll below and share your thoughts in the comments section. As always, stay with Pucks & Pitchforks for the latest Devils news and opinions.