As all of you know, NHL Training Camp is right around the corner, and to help keep you guys in the loop we are going to be doing a preview of each local team's camp. Starting, of course, with the New Jersey Devils.
The New Jersey Devils have had their name is the news all summer, thanks to their continuous (and seemingly never ending) negotiations with Ilya Kovalchuk. Now that the Kovalchuk saga is settles, however, there are questions as to who will (and who wont) make the team out of camp.
The Devils do have a few staples that you know will be in the line-up on opening night. Guys like Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, Jamie Langenbrunner, Patrik Elias and Martin Brodeur; but who will be fighting for a spot? John Fischer, from In Lou We Trust, helps us break it down:
The New Jersey Devils largely have depth spots on the roster available in training camp. Mark Fraser will be looking to hold down his spot, as Matthew Corrente and Tyler Eckford from the AHL will look to move past him on the depth chart. Alexander Urbom has been touted as another young defensemen in the system who could make the jump this year, but he may need more a full professional season in the AHL first. The other main area of interest is at center, with the third and fourth line center spots up for grabs. Dainius Zubrus may have the third spot locked down now, but if he gets dumped, the Devils may use a prospect like Jacob Josefson or Adam Henrique. Down further, Rod Pelley will attempt to remain on the team as Tim Sestito, among others, will try to break through along with Josefson and Henrique. Goaltending is not an issue this year, and wing is largely locked up, though Vladimir Zharkov would do well to show he can score goals to remain in New Jersey for a full season.
Ilya Kovalchuk: The Devils made a few acquisitions this off-season, including re-signing the biggest name on the free agent market in Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk does bring a ton of talent to the table, and it certainly gives the Devils another offensive weapon that they can utilize on the power play and at even strength.
Johan Hedberg: The Devils aren't stupid, and they know that Brodeur isn't getting any younger. So in order to keep Brodeur fresh throughout the season, and have a back-up plan in case he goes down with an injury, the Devils went out and got one of the best goalies on the market. The role of a back-up goaltender is a vital one for any successful hockey team, and the Devils did good to grab Hedberg while they could.
Anton Volchenkov: After losing Paul Martin to the Pittsburgh Penguins the Devils knew that they had to have answer on defense. So they went out and got the best defensive defenseman on the market in Volchenkov. Volchenkov is a shot-blocking machine, a big bruising defenseman in the corners and a guy who should help keep the flies off of Brodeur.
Henrik Tallinder: Tallinder is another great signing for the Devils, he's another nice addition to the defensive corps. Tallinder is a big defenseman with tons of playoff experience with the Buffalo Sabres, he should help keep the Devils their normal defensive self this year.
Paul Martin: Martin was one of the steadiest defenseman on the Devils since his call-up to the big club in the 2003 NHL season. When Martin signed with Pittsburgh this off-season the Devils lost an overall great defenseman who was really a perfect fit for the club. The Devils were able to, however, replace him with Volchenkov.
Rob Niedermayer: Niedermayer was one of the more serviceable centers for the Devils, but his play was truly nothing special. The Devils have plenty in the system to replace his departure.
The Devils truly only got better this off-season. Although there are worries about Brodeur's age the acquisitions of Tallinder and Volchenkov should certainly help him when he is playing, and the addition of Hedberg should help him stay fresh for a playoff run. A playoff run which I expect the Devils to make.