NHL Lockout 2012: How Some New Jersey Devils Players Are Performing in the AHL
With the NHL put on hold and no word on when it will return, many hockey fans are struggling to find their fix for the 2012-2013 season.
Players like Ilya Kovalchuk and Alex Ovechkin have found a new home in the KHL, but some of the league's best young talent has settled in their organization's AHL affiliate.
New Jersey Devils starters Adam Henrique, Jacob Josefson, Bobby Butler, Mattias Tedenby and Adam Larsson all chose to play for the Albany Devils, while others left for Russia giving them the opportunity to stay local and play together as a team.
Albany is 3-5-3 so far this year, but some of the Devils core players have performed well in their short time with the AHL. Here is a look at their stats so far this year.
Perhaps one of the biggest names playing in the AHL during the lockout is Adam Henrique, who made a name for himself during the 2012 NHL playoffs and finished as a finalist for the Calder Trophy last season.
Before the lockout, Henrique was projected to become one of the Devils best players and hopefully fill the void left by Zach Parise. Now, with negotiations ongoing, Henrique has taken over a new role with the Albany Devils.
Through 11 games, Henrique has three goals, zero assists, and a -1 rating. Henrique averaged about one goal every five games last season, so the 22-year-old seems to be ahead of last year's pace.
With Parise gone and the lines changing for this upcoming season, it will be important for Henrique to be a goal scorer rather then a playmaking center. He is expected to play on the two line with Patrik Elias and David Clarkson, which should open the ice for him to get clean shots and potentially reach the 20-goal plateau.
It is still early in the AHL season, but Henrique seems to be finding the net at a steady pace and will try to continue that success while he still plays for Albany.
The biggest surprise this season has been Jacob Josefson, who currently leads the Albany Devils in every major scoring category through 11 games.
Josefson currently has four goals, four assists, and an impressive +7 rating so far this year. He has also made an impact on the power play, scoring one PPG and adding a short-handed goal as well.
With Parise gone and Matt Shaw taking over as an assistant coach, the Devils will need goal scorers like Josefson to help on the power play. Although he has not officially been put on the team's power play, it is hard to imagine him not making the unit with Parise, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Petr Sykora gone.
Josefson missed a majority of last season due to two serious injuries, but he was able to return for the playoffs and make an impact for the team. It is a very good sign that he is skating so well in the AHL this season, and the Devils will need him to carry this performance to the NHL once the season begins.
Mattias Tedenby hasn't been able to secure a starting job in the NHL since joining the Devils, but fans hope that his time in the AHL will help him reach his potential.
Tedenby has only seen action in 101 games in his two years with the team and has mainly bounced between the NHL and AHL. Although he was expected to thrive in last year's offense, he was only able to score one goal in 43 games and had a horrific -15 rating.
Those numbers seem to be on the rise as Tedenby already has two goals and a zero rating through his first eight games with Albany. Tedenby has the speed to be a problem for other teams, but he has to get his scoring up if he wants to make an impact.
The acquisition of Bobby Butler may cut into Tedenby's ice time this season, but if he can live up to his potential unlike the last two seasons, the Devils will be happy to have another young forward on their roster.
All eyes will be on the newest Devil Bobby Butler this season after New Jersey signed him as a free agent this past summer.
Butler comes to the Devils after playing two full seasons with the Ottawa Senators. He has scored 16 goals and recorded 37 points in his two-year career, and is expected to fill the void left by Alexei Ponikarovsky on the third line.
Butler's potential is extremely high, as the 25-year-old has already won an AHL championship and an AHL All-Star Game MVP. However, Butler struggled last season which led to his release, so it will be interesting to see which Butler the Devils get.
So far this season, Butler has recorded one goal and one assist through 10 games with a -3 rating. It isn't exactly the numbers the Devils are expecting to see, but it is still very early in the season.
There are many players on the Albany Devils roster that are outscoring Butler this season, so he will have to turn it around if he wants extended playing time in the NHL.
Adam Larsson has been through a lot in his first two seasons with the Devils, and a trip down to the AHL has added to his very bizarre career.
Larsson, the No. 4 overall pick, started the season with the Devils and played a majority of the season before going down with an injury in February. He then returned to the lineup, was benched during the NHL playoffs and is now playing in the AHL during the lockout.
The future of the organization relies on the success of Larsson, as he is one of the best young talents on the defensive side of the puck. With guys like Zidlicky, Salvador and Tallinder getting older every year, the Devils hope that Larsson will emerge as the No. 1 in the next few years.
So far in the AHL, Larsson is third on the team with five points (one goal, four assists) and has an even rating through 11 games. Larsson is known to be a great puck handler at the blue line, and his early four assists is a good sign for things to come this year.
Larsson will likely work with young players like Alex Urbom and Matthew Corrente while he plays in the AHL, but hopefully the top pick will see some time in the NHL this year.