Greatest New Jersey Devils player of all time: 14. John Madden
John Madden is another complicated case. Technically, he was a bottom-six forward on a bunch of teams with players better than him. However, it was more than that. John Madden played a crucial role in a series of playoff greats. He spent 10 years in New Jersey, filling any role his coach needed on that night. Madden had scoring skill (he even scored four goals in a game once), was one of the premier defensive forwards in hockey, and he had deceptive speed that made him a marvel on the penalty kill.
Madden has the only Selke Trophy in Devils franchise history. That seems like a huge surprise for a franchise that has prioritized defensive forwards since its inception 40 years ago, but Madden is the only one who owns the trophy right now. He won the award in 2001, the year every Devils player seemingly had a career year.
The Devils lost the defense that made the team famous after the 2004-05 NHL Lockout. Stevens and Niedermayer were gone. Yet, the Devils still stopped the puck at a delirious rate. Martin Brodeur had a lot to do with that, but the defensive forwards like Madden played a huge role.
If you told someone who never saw Madden play that he would be ahead of the likes of Petr Sykora and Taylor Hall, they might say you’re insane. However, those who saw Madden play know just how important he was to this team’s winning pedigree.