New Jersey Devils: How a Shortened Season Can Affect the Devils
A full 82-game NHL regular season will not be possible due to the lockout, which means that the 2013 NHL season will be a sprint, not a marathon.
All teams have had ample resting time, including the Devils, so the excuse of a “cup hangover,” will not be valid. The Devils will need to fly right out of the gates if they want to repeat their success from last year.
It still has not been determined exactly how many games will be played, or what the schedules will look like, but a few details about the season can be assumed. Teams will most likely not play inter-conference games, and most games will be divisional.
Since the Atlantic Division will have so many divisional games, it’s safe to assume that four teams from the division will not be making the playoffs again.
One thing is for certain though, a shortened season will make the Atlantic Division extremely interesting.
With less time than usual before the start of the playoffs, games will be compact. This means that players will have a minimal amount of time to rest in between games.
Not much resting time in between games can hurt the Devils, who were the oldest team in the NHL last season.
Both goalies are a combined 79 years old.
Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg will need to be sharp if the Devils want to be successful this year. Expect Hedberg to be called upon a lot this season to rest Brodeur. The 40-year-old, future Hall of Famer will need to be used sparingly during the regular season if the Devils want him to be rested for another playoff run.
Brodeur has a career win total of 656 and is closing in on 700. If he remains healthy, Brodeur only needs about 15-20 wins this season to be the first goalie to ever reach the 700-win plateau.
Since this season will be so tiresome, the Devils will need to rely on some of their young players to step up. Last season, it was Adam Henrique that broke out, and this year someone else needs to develop as an elite player.
One possible candidate will be Bobby Butler, who had high hopes but did not reach expectations in two years with the Ottawa Senators.
Another player that may break out is Jacob Josefson, who hasn’t had a chance to prove himself yet due to injuries. If Josefson can stay healthy, the Devils will give him a shot at some top-nine minutes.
Mattias Tedenby and Steven Zalewski are also players that have been playing well with the Albany Devils. Although it’s a long shot, they may turn some heads if the Devils give them an opportunity.
If the Devils don’t race out of the gates quickly, they also have the option of trading for another forward to give them a boost.
Teams will be struggling to get under the cap for next season and may want to deal a player or two. The Devils have cap space to work with and an influx of NHL ready defensemen who can be used as trade bait.
Besides trading, the Devils still may re-sign Petr Sykora to a one-year deal to help power an offense that is not too deep.
Alex Bacon is a Featured Columnist at bleacherreport.com and can be followed on Twitter at @abacon55 for Devils news and updates throughout the season.
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