New Jersey Devils: Jacob Josefson’s Last Chance


This offseason, the New Jersey Devils re-signed Jacob Josefson to a one year contract worth $1.1 million. After a string of short, “prove it” contracts, will Josefson finally make the leap to a next-level NHLer?

In the past four years, Jacob Josefson has signed three different contracts. First a one year deal, then a two year deal, and now another one year contract. Despite playing 238 NHL games, Josefson has only put up 50 points, and thus the reason why Devils GM’s keep signing him to brief “prove it” contracts. Will this be Josefson’s last chance to prove it to New Jersey?

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Josefson was selected 20th overall in the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Just for some perspective, current Devils John Moore and Kyle Palmieri were also picked in the same draft, 21st and 26th overall respectively. Palmieri has played only 42 games more than Josefson, but has nearly tripled his career point total. And sure, Moore has played 65 more games than Josefson, but he’s a defenseman and still has scored 9 more points. Obviously players are more than just point totals, but 50 points from a first round center over 6 years is unforgivably low. And not that +/- is a particularly telling stat, but Josefson was one of the worst players in the league when it comes to that category, clocking in with an abysmal -21 last season.

Don’t get me wrong, he has upside. Josefson is a huge help on the power play. In fact, last season over 78.5% of his points came on the power play, with 3 PP goals and 8 PP assists. And Josefson’s presence on the half-wall during power plays is big even when he doesn’t make the score sheet. His awareness and ability to keep cycling the puck from that position would often give him a tertiary assist. In his 58 games played last season, he spent over 143 minutes on the ice during power plays, and he even won 58.2% of power play faceoffs. When Josefson went to IR with a knee injury in the middle of last season, the Devils’ power play production dropped significantly. His absence was noticeable and was detrimental to special teams efforts.

While great on the power play, he also provides some much needed efficiency in shootouts as well. After a historically bad campaign, in which the Devils set the record for most consecutive shootout losses (13), Jacob Josefson was able to lead the team to victory over the Winnipeg Jets with a beauty of a move in the second round of the shootout. Josefson would go on to use the same exact move to beat a few other goaltenders later that season, notching a few more shootout wins for the team.

But, where does Josefson fit in the lineup for next season? With the signing of Vernon Fiddler this offseason, the Devils have ensured that Josefson will no longer play the role of 4th line center. This means he will have to either move to the wing, or battle in training camp with upcoming prospect Pavel Zacha for the 3rd line center role. I personally believe Zacha will be a lock for that spot.

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As of right now, Josefson is a niche player. He does his part well on the power play and in the shootout. So well in fact, that he earned another short contract with the Devils to prove that he can do more. Last season, the power play only accounted for 15% of his total ice time, so his even-strength offensive production and overall defensive presence both need work. But, the clock is running out, and the roster is filling up. Jacob Josefson needs to step up big or get out of the way if the Devils want to take the next step and become a playoff team again.