Tag: Adam Larsson

Philadelphia Flyers v New Jersey Devils

Devils’ biggest question: Will their young defense measure up?

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One of the biggest questions for the New Jersey Devils heading into the 2015-16 season surrounds the youth and inexperience the club has on its blue line.

With Adam Larsson, John Moore, Eric Gelinas, Jon Merrill and Damon Severson, New Jersey could have as many as five defensemen 24 or younger on the back end to start the season.

The Devils will expect more out of Larsson who signed a new six-year, $25 million deal last month.

The 22-year-old had a strong second half last season scoring two goals and 18 assists in the final 40 games after registering just 13 points in his previous 85 games dating back to the 2012-13 season.

“I think he’s only scratched the surface of the kind of player he’s going to be,” GM Ray Shero said per The Bergen Record. “There’s a reason he was drafted when he was. He’s got a lot of experience already. He’s played a lot of ice time on the (penalty kill) and 5-on-5. He hasn’t had the chance to play a lot on the power play, yet.”

Shero could also go out and add a veteran in free agency.

According to Generalfanager.com, New Jersey currently has over $14 million cap space.

With a plethora of unrestricted free agent defensemen available, perhaps Shero could add blue liner or two on a camp invite.

“We’re looking to be in touch with some (player) agents for some free agents. Or with some teams. Or maybe the possibility of a tryout with one or two guys in training camp,” Shero said. “Some guys are still trying to get contracts.

“There’s plenty of time there, but you’re always looking to see what’s there. And if it’s something that makes sense for us, we’ll jump in. If not, we’ll go into training camp with what we have and see what’s available after that.”

Goaltender Cory Schneider knows he’ll play a role in helping out his young blue line.

“We’re in transition somewhat, but (I’ll) hopefully be a calming presence and a veteran presence, even though I feel I’m a young 29,” he told NJ Advance Media. “I hope to put my mark on a franchise and organization and hopefully carry them to a Stanley Cup one day.”

Related: New Jersey Devils ’15-16 Outlook

New Jersey Devils ’15-16 Outlook

Adam Henrique

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.

It’s New Jersey Devils day at PHT

Cory Schneider

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The New Jersey Devils.

The New Jersey Devils’ 2014-15 story is simple in that they were a team that couldn’t score often and therefore didn’t win often.

They did net six goals against the Philadelphia Flyers in their season opener and scored five times against Florida in their next game. After that though, they were credited with just 170 goals for over their final 80 contests.

The tragedy of it was that they wasted a great season from goaltender Cory Schneider. At the age of 28 (he turned 29 in March), Schneider finally entered a campaign as the undisputed number one goaltender and went on to post a 2.26 GAA and .925 save percentage in 69 contests. However, despite having the league’s ninth best GAA and fifth best save percentage, he finished in a three-way tie for 19th in terms of wins (26).

The Devils’ struggles led to Peter DeBoer’s dismal as head coach on Dec. 26 and he was replaced by co-coaches Adam Oates and Scott Stevens. The silver lining there is that 22-year-old defenseman Adam Larsson worked well under Stevens, leading to him breaking out after years of trying to find his way with the Devils. His rise helped accent the Devils’ promising young blueline, which also features Eric Gelinas, Damon Severson, and Jon Merrill.

Those defensemen provided the Devils with hope for the future, but the 2014-15 campaign itself was a disappointment as New Jersey finished with a 32-36-14 record.

Off-season recap

The Devils acquired forward Kyle Palmieri from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a 2015 second-round pick and a 2016 third-round selection. They also added a player they hope will someday help solve their offensive woes when they took Pavel Zacha with the sixth overall pick in the draft.

Beyond that, New Jersey’s on-ice personnel might be similar this season, but the Devils have undergone a massive overhaul behind the scenes. The NHL’s longest-serving general manager, Lou Lamoriello, passed the torch to former Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero in May. While the original plan was for Lamoriello to remain with the Devils by retaining his other title as the team’s president, he ultimately decided to leave to become the Toronto Maple Leafs’ general manager.

Meanwhile, Shero brought in John Hynes to serve as the new bench boss. Hynes previously worked with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, making him a familiar face to Shero. The new general manager also laid out the Devils’ three principles going forward: Fast, attacking, and supportive.

So while the Devils haven’t made many signings or trades this summer, a new era has begun.

Devils GM doesn’t want to make a big deal out of captaincy


Really, it makes sense that the New Jersey Devils would prefer not to just throw the captain’s “C” on someone’s jersey right away.

It’s a time of transition for the franchise, with Lou Lamoriello making way for Ray Shero after decades of running the ship, along with John Hynes getting his first NHL head coaching gig.

Shero made it clear that there’s no rush to a captaincy decision, although he left the door open for it to happen as well, as the Newark Star-Ledger reports.

“If we didn’t have a captain to start the season, it wouldn’t mean we don’t have a leader,” Shero said. “Not at all. There are a number of teams with no captains. I don’t know if Columbus had one last season and, of course, Minnesota had rotating captains with Jacques (Lemaire). I don’t want to make a big deal out of it.”

As Shero notes, “we don’t know these players yet.”

Michael Cammalleri spoke of a possibly refreshing change of pace a couple days ago, also to the Newark Star-Ledger.

“The ownership group seems highly intelligent and highly sophisticated in their strategy. For now, let’s put some trust in that,” Cammalleri said. “Let’s (hope) they have a plan that will work.”

Where would you go with the captaincy role, if you had to make a choice today? Would it be a fading veteran like Patrik Elias, maybe someone like Cammalleri or even an up-and-comer such as Adam Larsson?

Looking at New Jersey’s options, it really does make a lot of sense just to wait.

Devils’ Zacha to skip Czech’s world junior evaluation camp

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

New Jersey Devils’ prospect Pavel Zacha will skip the Czech Republic’s world junior evaluation camp, which began on Saturday.

Zacha, the Devils’ 2015 first-round pick (sixth overall), is still without a contract.

“He doesn’t have a contract, so we don’t want to risk him getting an injury,” agent Patrik Stefan told the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti. “I spoke to the coach and he understands.”

The 18-year-old is a lock to make the Czech world junior team, if he’s made available. Zacha has represented the Czech Republic at the previous two Under-20 tournaments. He had a goal and an assist in five games at this year’s tournament.

The bigger concern for the Devils is getting the 6-foot-3, 210-pound center signed to an entry-level contract.

Zacha needs to be under contract with the Devils by 5 p.m. on Aug. 15 in order to be eligible to spend the 2015-16 season in the NHL because he is still under contract with Liberec in the Czech Extraliga for one more season.

The Devils already missed a July 15 deadline to sign Zacha, which means the team will have to pay Liberec a $100,000 transfer fee – if they sign him prior to the Aug. 15 deadline.

“Now that everything has settled down a little bit, we’ll reconnect with Patrik Stefan and give it a go to sign him,” Devils GM Ray Shero said. “Hopefully, that’s going to be the case. As I told (Zacha), that’s our goal and it has been from the outset. I’ve said this before: there’s no red flags, we’re going to get to it. So, we’ll get this thing going next week and, hopefully, get him signed.”

Here’s more from Gulitti on the Devils’ negotiations with Zacha:

Most of the structure of Zacha’s entry-level contract is already in place. As stipulated in the collective bargaining agreement, Zacha’s contract will be for three seasons and he will no doubt receive the maximum entry-level NHL salary of $925,000 and AHL salary of $70,000 per season.

The hold-up is believed to be over the Schedule A individual performance bonuses, which can be given out for meeting statistical thresholds in categories such as ice time, goals, assists, points, etc. Former Devils GM Lou Lamoriello refused to include Schedule A bonuses because it went against his team philosophy. In fact, Devils defenseman Adam Larsson, who was selected fourth overall in 2010, remains the only top 10 pick that didn’t get any form of Schedule A bonus package in his entry-level contract. (Entry-level restrictions were first put in place in 1995.)

With Shero as GM now, Zacha will receive at least some A bonuses, but the sides have been unable to agree upon how much. The player cannot receive more than $850,000 total and no more than $212,500 per category. A source indicated Stefan is seeking the maximum bonuses.

Zacha scored 16 goals and 34 points in 37 games with the Ontario Hockey League’s Sarnia Sting last season.