Despite being in just his first season as general manager of the New Jersey Devils, Ray Shero is under pressure to address the concerns currently facing the organization.
New Jersey has missed the playoffs in three straight seasons and in four of the last five years.
One of the reasons for the lack of success in New Jersey has been the team’s inability to score goals. The Devils finished the 2014-15 season 28th overall in goals-for per-game with 2.15. The club has not had a 30-goal scorer since the 2011-12 season when Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and David Clarkson each reached the 30-goal plateau.
“Obviously the last three years haven’t been what was expected,” Shero told NJ Advance Media last month. “We’ve got work to do.”
Not helping matters is ESPN’s latest prospects rankings, which has New Jersey’s prospects ranked 26th in the league ahead of just the L.A. Kings, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Despite the ranking, Shero told The Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti in July that he felt there were “a handful” of players at the team’s development camp who could compete for jobs at training camp in September.
“I think there will be some surprises both on the good end and maybe not-so-good end,” Shero said. “But that’s training camp and that’s the competition.”
On the blue line, New Jersey’s youth will once again be tested. The Devils could have as many as five defensemen 24 or younger this season.
“We’re out to build a winner, an elite hockey team that wins on a consistent basis so that’s got to start with the organization,” said Devils’ owner Josh Harris. “The Devils organization is and was a quality organization.
“Anytime you bring in new leadership there’s always change and I think we try to embrace that and make it really positive.”