The New Jersey Devils have finished in the bottom-five in scoring for three straight campaigns and once again their offense is a big area of concern.
No New Jersey player reached the 50-point mark last season and only two (Adam Henrique and Mike Cammalleri) recorded at least 40 points. Acquiring forward Kyle Palmieri in a trade with Anaheim over the summer does help matters, but offensively the Devils look like a long-term project that has only barely begun. Years from now, perhaps Pavel Zacha, who was taken with the sixth overall pick, will be a serious scoring threat, but for now New Jersey doesn’t have much in the way of young, NHL-ready forwards.
Stefan Matteau might establish himself as an NHL regular at the age of 21, but the 2012 first-round pick has never been a major contributor offensively. There’s always the chance that Henrique, 25, will take a step forward, but his career-high remains 51 points from his rookie season when he was working with Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. There’s clearly no one at that level for him to play off of at this time.
The good news is that the Devils’ situation looks less bleak when you move past their offense as in contrast, the blueline’s rebuild seems to be moving along nicely. Adam Larsson took a significant step forward last season and the hope is that he’ll lead the charge along with Eric Gelinas, Jon Merrill, and Damon Severson. The oldest of them, Gelinas, only celebrated his 24th birthday in May.
Then of course there’s their goaltending, which is in the capable hands of Cory Schneider. He demonstrated last season under trying circumstances that the Devils’ goalie situation remains their strength, even in the post-Martin Brodeur era.
Taking it all in, New Jersey isn’t without its strengths and upside, but until the Devils get to the point where they’re at least passable offensively, it will be difficult for them to make a serious run at a playoff spot.
Fired last week after 22 seasons as the New Jersey Devils’ director of scouting, David Conte says he respects the decision by new general manager Ray Shero.
“I respect it,” Conte told NJ Advance Media. “They’re doing what they were supposed to do and that’s operating in the best interest of the franchise.”
Conte was asked if he’d clashed with Shero.
“No, I don’t think so,” Conte said. “Nothing more than I would’ve had with [former GM Lou Lamoriello], whether we should trade this pick or not trade it. That’s not a clash. That’s just a disagreement.”
With the exception of Adam Henrique, the Devils have not seen many of their recent draft picks turn into above-average NHLers. Though part of that can be explained by a lack of high first-round picks, and while the Devils do have some promising young players, Shero felt a change was necessary regardless.
“David and I have had numerous discussions regarding his future,” Shero said last week in a release. “Based on our conversations, I believe it is in the best interests of our organization for David to pursue other opportunities and to not renew his contract.”
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It turns out that the New Jersey Devils only have one player who needed offseason surgery, and Adam Henrique got his wrist “cleaned up,” as GM Lou Lamoriello told the Newark Star-Ledger.
Henrique, 25, underwent an MRI that showed a need for minor surgery, according to Lamiorello. The Devils guess that the window of recovery will be about four-to-six weeks, which means that the young forward shouldn’t face too major an interruption to summer training.
Henrique scored 16 goals on 127 shots in 75 games, down from 25 tallies in 77 contests in 2013-14. He still managed to score 43 points, so it wasn’t a total waste for Henrique.
Lamoriello explained that it was the kind of issue that Henrique could have played through if New Jersey made the playoffs, yet this will help him avoid a helpful 2015-16 season. Perhaps we’ll see a more prolific scoring year from Henrique next season, then?
For the sixth time in their last eight games the Pittsburgh Penguins scored one or fewer goals falling 2-0 to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.
The Pens have been shutout twice in the eight-game span and have a record of 3-4-1.
Jacob Josefson and Adam Henrique had the Devils goals.
Cory Schneider made 35 saves for his fifth shutout of the season and third in 10 games.
With the loss the Pens failed to pick up ground on the New York Islanders for second spot in the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh entered Tuesday’s action just two points shy of the Isles.
A Penguins win would’ve also created some breathing room between Pittsburgh and Washington. The Caps trail the Pens by just two points in the division.
Thomas Greiss stopped 17 shots in the loss.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have dropped four straight games and Mike Johnston has seen enough.
Following the Penguins 3-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils Monday, the Penguins rookie head coach called out his team.
“We need a response,” Johnston said per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We need to squeeze more out of each individual. We probably got a good response from half of our group. We didn’t get a good response from the rest of them. We need to squeeze more out of guys. There’s more to give. We needed more guys pulling on the rope. We didn’t have enough.”
Pittsburgh opened the scoring on captain Sidney Crosby’s 11th of the season; however, it was all New Jersey after that.
Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr gave the Devils a 2-1 lead after two periods. Adam Henrique’s 10th of the season at 5:32 of the third stood to be the insurance marker.
Due to injury and illness the Penguins had eight players in their lineup Monday, who started the season in the American Hockey League. Despite dressing a young roster, Johnston expects more.
“When a guy comes up, the first two games, they’re on Cloud 9, playing with energy and adrenaline,” said Johnston. “But now, they’ve got to play heavy minutes against top guys. Some guys are responding well, and some guys aren’t.”
The Penguins will look to snap the skid Wednesday night when the Carolina Hurricanes visit Pittsburgh. The two teams have split the first two meetings this season with Carolina winning 4-2 in Pittsburgh on Nov. 28 and the Penguins edging the Canes 3-2 on Nov. 29 in Carolina.