Devils fans could use a pick me up. As local rivals on Broadway and Long Island begin first-round playoff series, New Jersey is excavating its locker room in preparations for a long offseason of head scratching.
They finished at 19-19-10, a disappointing .500 winning percentage in the lockout-shortened season. After a strong start the Devils remained in playoff position consistently until April 5th, when they fell out of the top eight and never returned. Losing Ilya Kovalchuk for 11 of the most important games of the season was crushing, but injuries are a part of the game and missing their top forward is not an excuse for losing 10 straight.
Now they have to contemplate a team-wide lack of scoring ability, as well as deal with several key free agents. The wound is still raw and the healing process is ridden with uncertainty.
But here is where the boost of morale comes in. Several good prospects are on the way, many of them blueliners. Here are five to keep an eye and ear out for, ordered by potential. Stephan Matteau is not included considering the amount of time he spent in New Jersey this season.
(all prospect stats acquired from hockey database (hockeydb.com)