Ilya Kovalchuk

It’s New Jersey Devils day on PHT


Welcome to our offseason initiative — 30 teams in 30 days.

From July 16 until Aug. 14, we’ll be dedicating each day to a new team by recapping the offseason and looking ahead to 2012-13.

There will also be a series of posts looking at key stories, player profiles and burning questions regarding each squad.

Today, we move on to the New Jersey Devils.

After missing the playoffs altogether in 2010-11, the Devils fell two wins short of winning their fourth Stanley Cup.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to keep Zach Parise with the team that drafted him; their captain opted for the Minnesota Wild instead.

Still, if last season’s results are any indication, this could be a good team anyway. Both aging goalies Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg join Bryce Salvador, Mark Fayne and even Steve Bernier as returning free agents.

Without a splashy addition to ease the loss of Parise, the Devils are counting on the ascension of Adam Henrique, a staggering array of contract years and Ilya Kovalchuk’s continued brilliance to drive their offense.

Can the Devils defy conventional wisdom once again or will they come back to Earth? Stick with PHT today to study the biggest factors.

After PTO, Upshall signs one-year deal with Blues

Florida Panthers v Ottawa Senators
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Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.

On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.

But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.

The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.

Panthers’ Crouse is going back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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Lawson Crouse is going back to junior. The big 18-year-old winger confirmed it today on Twitter.

Crouse was drafted 11th overall in June by the Florida Panthers. Despite the club’s belief that Crouse could make “an immediate impact” on the roster, he finished the preseason with just two shots and one assist in three games.

Crouse will return to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, with whom he’ll look to improve on his modest point totals from last season.

“I don’t think there’s any pressure on the kid,” coach Gerard Gallant said last week. “If he doesn’t make the team this year he goes back to junior … and will have a lot of success.”