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30 in 30: Devils lineup different up front, in goal

Sunday, 08.25.2013 / 1:21 PM / News
By Corey Masisak
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30 in 30: Devils lineup different up front, in goal
NHL.com projects the New Jersey Devils\' lineup entering the 2013-14 season as part of its 30 in 30 series throughout the month of August.

What a strange 36 months or so it has been for the New Jersey Devils.

After finishing first or second in their division 12 times in a 13-year span, the Devils have finished fourth or lower in each of the past three. Twice they've missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but once they accumulated 102 points in the NHL's best division and went on a run to the Cup Final.

Things haven't exactly been stable in northern New Jersey this offseason, but stability could be the end result moving forward.

The team's best player left for the second straight summer.

A year after Zach Parise went home to play for the Minnesota Wild, Ilya Kovalchuk went home to Russia and SKA St. Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League, retiring from the NHL with 12 years and $77 million left on his contract. The Devils signed Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder shortly after free agency opened, then added Jaromir Jagr after Kovalchuk turned in his retirement papers.

Two other big moves could help bring about that stability. The Devils traded for Cory Schneider on the day they were host of the 2013 NHL Draft, providing a succession plan as Martin Brodeur nears retirement.

On Aug. 15, the team was sold to Josh Harris, who owns the Philadelphia 76ers, and David Blitzer. With new ownership and a long-term option at goaltender in place -- and with more financial flexibility sans the Kovalchuk contract -- general manager Lou Lamoriello has the chance to return the Devils to their consistent playoff ways.

Whether or not New Jersey can get back to the postseason in 2013-14 could depend a lot on the veteran forward additions and if the two young Adams -- Adam Henrique and Adam Larsson -- can prove they are core-type players to build around.

Here is the projected 2013-14 lineup for the Devils:

Forwards

Patrik Elias - Travis Zajac - Jaromir Jagr

Ryane Clowe - Adam Henrique - Michael Ryder

Andrei Loktionov - Dainius Zubrus - Rostislav Olesz

Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Krys Barch

Defensemen

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson

Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky

Jon Merrill - Anton Volchenkov

Mark Fayne - Peter Harrold

Goalies

Cory Schneider

Martin Brodeur

NOTES: Let's get this out of the way: If both goaltenders are healthy, expect Brodeur to be given the start opening night. When there are back-to-backs, expect Brodeur to get the home portion.

That said, if both stay healthy all season, it says here Schneider will end up starting more games than the likely Hall of Fame member. It might be 42-40 or 45-37, but it will be more. Having two goalies remain healthy for 82 games is not a likely scenario, though, especially when one is Brodeur's age (41).

Up front, Jagr could slide into David Clarkson's spot on the top line. The Devils need a bounce-back season from Henrique, and having a pair of experienced wings with a track record of scoring goals could help him.

The team's fourth line has been together for a while now, so it is fair to expect them to stick together. Gionta won 35.1 percent of his 390 faceoffs last season, so Carter needs to take more draws or Gionta needs to improve significantly.

That leaves two wing spots on the third line, with a few other players -- Reid Boucher, Stefan Matteau, Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby -- chief among the candidates. A great camp by Loktionov, Boucher or Matteau could push Clowe to the third line.

The Devils need more from Larsson. He and Merrill are the future on the blue line, but New Jersey could use an impact season from each in the present. Someone has to take Kovalchuk's place on the point during power plays, and expect Merrill, Larsson and Harrold to have their chances.

Follow Corey Masisak on Twitter: @cmasisak22

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 82 24 43 16 67
P. Elias 65 18 35 -4 53
T. Zajac 80 18 30 3 48
A. Henrique 77 25 18 3 43
M. Zidlicky 81 12 30 -3 42
M. Ryder 82 18 16 -6 34
A. Greene 82 8 24 3 32
E. Gelinas 60 7 22 -3 29
D. Zubrus 82 13 13 1 26
R. Clowe 43 7 19 -10 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 16 15 12 .921 1.97
M. Brodeur 19 14 6 .901 2.51