NJ Devils roster projections; who makes the team?


The Devils have completed the road half of their preseason schedule and have a full day off today, so I figured it’s a good time to take an educated guess at what the final 23 man roster will look like. Just keep in mind, there is still a ton of time before the season starts so General Manager Lou Lamoriello could make one move tomorrow and destroy my roster projections. Also, with three games still remaining in the preseason, you never know what injuries crop up and change their thought processs.

First, I’ll start with some locks to make the team.

Mike Cammalleri (1) – Travis Zajac (2) – Jaromir Jagr (3)

This will be the top line come opening night, there’s really no doubt at all about that.

Martin Havlat (4) – Patrik Elias (5) – Dainius Zubrus (6)

This trio figures to start the season as the Devils’ second line, but if Zubrus does not produce on the wing, Head Coach Peter DeBoer will not be hesitant to shake things up.

Ryane Clowe (7) – Adam Henrique (8) – Michael Ryder (9)

This would be my best guess at the opening night third line. There are big question marks on this line, however, such as the health of Clowe and if Ryder is traded or not. Due to Ryder’s huge preseason to this point, I’m guessing Lamoriello opts to keep him and instead trade fellow RW Damien Brunner.

That’s probably what the top nine will look like to start the season, but how about the bottom five? I’m not going to make a line out of these guys because too many variables remain. Tuomo Ruutu (10) is a lock to make the team because his contract is immovable and he’ll be in the lineup in some capacity. I also believe Stephen Gionta (11) is a lock to make the team. The fact he plays center and is a real asset on the penalty kill makes him invaluable.

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So now there are three forward spots left. With the assumed trade of Brunner, an NHL contract became available and that should go to Ryan Carter (12). Carter was the best fourth liner the Devils had last season and the fact he chose to come as a PTO instead of signing with another team tells me that a contract is waiting for him. Right now I think a spot goes to Steve Bernier (13) but he could very easily be waived without much monetary loss in order to make room for Reid Boucher. Unforunately, I think Boucher gets lost in the numbers game and the fact he can be sent to Albany “no questions asked.” After last night’s game, I think Scott Gomez (14) beats out Jacob Josefson and the Devils try and get something for him. Again, three games can change a lot, but that’s my gut feeling at the moment. Stefan Matteau will be sent back to Albany and serve as depth with Boucher when injuries occur.

Luckily, the defense is much less complicated. This will be the opening night defense (injuries excluded).

Andy Greene (15) – Jon Merrill (16)

Bryce Salvador (17) – Marek Zidlicky (18)

Eric Gelinas (19) – Adam Larsson (20)

The only question is, who gets the final D spot? Peter Harrold (21) should get the honor and deservedly so. Harrold is a versatile defender and can come in at a moment’s notice and hold his own. Tomas Kaberle would need some gigantic efforts to change that thinking, but if Merrill’s injury problems linger, he could see himself making the team. Damon Severson isn’t ready quite yet but you can bet you’ll see him with the big club at some point this season.

The goalies should be relatively simple as well. Cory Schneider (22) is finally the undisputed #1 and his backup will be Keith Kinkaid (23). Kinkaid would have to stink something special in his next appearance for the Devils to choose Scott Clemmensen over him.

Now that I’ve projected this, Lamoriello will trade Jagr and blow all of our minds (kidding, just kidding). Stay tuned to Pucks and Pitchforks for all your coverage of the Devils this season.