Even so, there’s little sense denying the notion that the New Jersey Devils face more uncertainty on defense after trading away one of their most important defensemen.
Take a look at a guess at what the team’s seven defensemen might be, in no particular order:
That’s … not an imposing group on paper.
All About the Jersey points out that the Devils were the second-worst team in the NHL at 5-on-5 in Corsi last season, a sometimes unthinkable plight for a team with such a tight-trapping reputation. And those issues came with Larsson.
As defensive corps go, that one is… pretty underwhelming. Beyond Andy Greene, there are an awful lot of question marks in that bunch and a few players who we know are probably third-pairing level at best. There are probably four players total in that group (Greene, Severson, Lovejoy, Moore) I’m comfortable saying are NHLers right now for sure, which is certainly not ideal.
Greene probably does deserve more recognition as a quality defenseman and it’s also true that the Devils have a knack for manufacturing NHL defensemen, however.
It also must be noted that some of the Devils’ possession troubles can be blamed on a weak offense that added Taylor Hall this summer.
Damon Severson may be called upon to limit the damage.
Hockey Buzz’s Todd Cordell notes that while Larsson + Andy Greene served as a pairing that was better at limiting opponents’ shots, Severson and Greene created better offense and that such a combination might yield better results for the Devils overall.
John Hynes faces the challenge of putting things together to try to at least compete for a playoff spot. If this defense is any indication, they might need to ask a lot from Cory Schneider and an improved group of forwards.