FanPost

Devils Midseason Grades

Now that the All-Star festivities are officially behind us, and congrats to Zach Parise for scoring a goal in this his first All-Star Game, we can focus on matters that are more important to us, such as Devils hockey. Before we get ahead of ourselves and worry about tomorrow's game versus the Senators, I have taken the liberty of giving out mid-term grades to each Devil currently on the official roster. Originally two separate posts from my Devils-centered blog, I decided to make them one here on In Lou We Trust. And without further ado, here are the midseason grades for your Devils after the jump.

FORWARDS

Zach Parise: What else is there to say about the Zach Attack? After really breaking out in '07-'08, he's gotten better and better this season and is on pace to reach the 100 point mark. Possibly more overlooked than any other young superstar in the NHL, his play is very likely to go nowhere but up in the subsequent years. Uncle Louie, if you're reading this and I hope to God you are, please sign this man to a very long-term contract before we have another Scott Gomez on our hands. A+

Patrik Elias: Not far behind from the aforementioned Parise in points, this modern day "Jesus" is experiencing a resurrection in his career. Leading the team in assists, he's on pace to match not just his '03-'04 totals, but maybe his '00-'01 numbers as well. Plus, the clutch goals against Philadelphia and Our Slutty Older Sisters were things of beauty. Way to go Patty, for proving that you're not expendable by any means. A

Travis Zajac: After a disappointing last season, we were wondering whether or not Travis was going to ever break through. This year, though, he has truly arrived. Third on the team in assists and with his +/- back in the positive double digits, Zajac will be looking to pass his rookie year totals and hopefully go beyond them as well. Maybe all Devils fans needed was a little patience despite his sophomore slump. A-

David Clarkson: Cam who? We're doing just fine with David as the Devils' main pugilist. And no offense to Cam, he CAN play hockey. Notching the goals and assists stats 10 times each and raking in 85 penalty minutes (55 of which were fighting majors), the Clarkie Monster sets the tone for each game with his fists. Down early? He'll fight in order for them to fight back on the board. Have a lead? No problem. He'll fight to assure the Devils' dominance. The man has done quite a job making all of us forget about Cam. B+

Brian Gionta: This is another guy who was listed in every trade rumor imaginable after a disappointing '07-'08. After being given a second chance, he has done pretty well to stick around. Sure, his goal numbers are really low right now, but he is tied for second on the team in assists with 27. If anything, it means this: once the puck is on Gio's stick, look out for your surroundings because the Devil that gets the puck from him is sure to light the lamp. Still, a few more goals would be nice. B

Dainius Zubrus: Last year, many of us were not so sure about this guy once the Devils signed him. It didn't help much that he was a nonfactor for much of that season. This year is a different story. His stats aren't that much, although they indicate that they'll pass his '07-'08 numbers. Here's what is more important. His presence on the ice is felt more times than not because he creates space and gets the puck to the top dogs like Zach and Patty. Although in a recent slump, he's still a fan favorite and his ice presence is always felt. B

Jamie Langenbrunner: After struggling near the end of last season, fans were wondering whether Langs was deserving of the "C" awarded to him in the middle of that season by Coach Sutter. While some people are still unhappy with that decision (and maybe right for all we know), he has stayed healthy for much of this year and is making contributions on a consistent basis. Hopefully, his return to great play should give him enough confidence to lead the troops. B

Brian Rolston: The big offseason signing for the Devils was one of the many rash of injuries that occurred to the team earlier in the season and started off slow. Sure enough, though, he got his game back, gaining points at an almost consistent pace. Still, there's some work that needs to be done, but what he did isn't so bad for a guy who was injured for a portion of the season. B-

Mike Rupp: His stats are really not much, but he's still solidifying himself as an enforcer. He makes the big hit and drops the gloves against anyone and everyone just so he could stand up for the other men wearing the Devils sweater. Nothing special stats wise, but his physical presence should not go unnoticed. C+

Bobby Holik: Another offseason signing, Holik wasn't expected to do much as far as points go. That much was expected. Still, like Zubrus, he makes his presence known, only in front of the net pushing around intruders. C+

John Madden: I know that his leadership is there, but his numbers tell a different story. Although among the walking wounded earlier this year, he hasn't been able to contribute like he did in years past. And what's worse, he has yet to become that threat on special teams. As much as we all love Madden in Jersey, this sort of decline is making us very uncomfortable. C-/D+

Jay Pandolfo: The anti-Parise. Just last summer I was excited to hear the news that Pando was not going anywhere in free agency. Now, I am getting worried for him. He didn't play much last season due to injury, but he's not playing much now because he's not getting the job done. Only 4 goals in the 45 games he's played indicates a decline of sorts in Pandolfo's case. I am hoping to God he'll pull through, but for now, his prospects are not looking too bright. F

Brendan Shanahan: Returning to where his career started, Shanny was brought in to impact the special teams and give a disappointing Pandolfo some much needed time to clear his thoughts. Scored a Power Play goal in his first game back, but didn't make that similar noise in the second. I'm giving him a few more games to see if he becomes useful. Incomplete

DEFENSE

Johnny Oduya: Quite easily the best defenseman the Devils have heading into the (unofficial) second-half of the season. Spanish Johnny leads the team in points amongst defensemen and often has a hand in some big scoring plays. Initially scrutinized by the fans early last year, Oduya has absolutely won them over and will look to be a Devil for a good portion of his career. He's a keeper. B+

Mike Mottau: Mottau is probably the most useful asset the Devs could have on the defensive front. He leads the team in +/- with plus-16, which means his defensive abilities rarely hold him to be a liability when fending off an attack. Like I said, he's an asset, and would like to see him keep it up. B

Paul Martin: For a defenseman, the Minneapolis native can score as well. Along with Oduya, he leads the team amongst defensemen in goals with four and is also stellar on the defensive. Even an injury in early November didn't stop him from doing well. The thing I would like to see is for him to be keeping it up at a consistent pace. B-

Jay Leach: With the multitude of injuries occurring earlier this season, we've seen a multitude of players called up from Lowell to skate with the big boys. Leach, a relative journeyman, was one of them, and has lasted the longest with 21 games. And to be honest, he's held his own as well. He fared well on the blueline and scrapped with some tough guys also. I would like to see more of him, but for his efforts, he deserves a decent grade. C+

Colin White: Whitey's eye injury from last year may have had an effect on how he fared then, but it hasn't been a factor right now. Colin is second among the team's defensemen with a plus-14 rating, even though he missed a few games because of an upper body injury. The health factor worries me about White, so I hope that he'll get through with a clean bill of health. C+

Bryce Salvador: Acquired at the trade deadline last year, Salvador missed the remainder of it due to injury. Injuries have partially been a factor in Salvie not being much of a factor. His plus-2 rating isn't helping matters either. But to his credit, he does provide some opportunities when given. Still, I need to see more from him. C

Andy Greene: Missed the first few games of the season and all of November & a chunk of December. Greene was doing pretty decent prior to suffering a broken hand against Toronto in October, notching some assists and keeping his +/- reasonably positive. Since returning, he hasn't been much of a factor for the team. The injuries haven't helped him much this year. C

Sheldon Brookbank: This guy is about as useful as barbed wire is for flossing your teeth. We still have him on the roster because? F

GOALIES

Scott Clemmensen: Other than Parise, he's the MVP of this season so far. Initally left for dead in the dregs of Lowell, he was summoned to save the season when the naysayers thought the Devils were as good as lifeless once Marty went down. Oh, how wrong were those Doubting Thomases. Clemmer has amassed a 19-9-1 record, a .922 goals against average, and out of the 860 shots against him, only 67 were goals. All of these in Brodeur's absence. It has to make you and me feel good about our future should Marty go for good. B+

Kevin Weekes: Initally the de facto starter after Marty's injury, Weekes was on-and-off until Clemmer's arrival. Since then, he's been very serviceable as a back-up, giving Clemmensen some much needed rest and playing admirably in the process. Not to mention he's an affable personality who keeps the mood in the clubhouse light. C+

Martin Brodeur: It's tough to grade him right now after the mere 10 games he's played so far. While he's played tremendously, the one thing that bothers me is how he hasn't gotten over his struggles against the Rags. While is grade is not certain now, this much is: when he gets back, it will make the Devils even better. Incomplete

And there you have it; the mid-term grades for your New Jersey Devils. Now that business has been taken care of, we can all focus on tomorrow's game in Ottawa, with hope that the Devils can keep their hot streak going. Stay Jersey, and as always...LETS GO DEVILS!

All FanPosts and FanShots are the respective work of the author and not representative of the writers or other users of In Lou We Trust.

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