Now, while I ultimately didn't agree with his conclusions, Greg Wyshynski wrote a good preview about the New Jersey Devils at Puck Daddy. Now, Puck Daddy is on Yahoo! - yet Yahoo! Sports had a separate New Jersey Devils preview go up yesterday as well. This is not a bad idea by Yahoo!, nothing wrong with an additional, different perspective. This one is by Ross McKeon and ILWT member Zelepukin brought this up in the comments in the last post.
Unfortunately, this preview certainly isn't as good. Zelepukin and few of the other commenters didn't appreciate the preview. But let's give it a closer look, see what McKeon has to say, and discuss it further. Also, a second preview - a bonus? - is reviewed, the preview coming from FantasyPros911 is included after the jump.
Now, the first initial (and second biggest) flaw in the preview comes right at the beginning of McKeon's preview and it's not a minor one. Here's the text in question:
Hey, did ya hear? The New Jersey Devils are getting the band back together.
Bobby Holik, Brian Rolston and eventually Brendan Shanahan – three veteran forwards who all enjoyed multiple early seasons of success with the Devils – came back into the fold last year. This offseason, it was Jacques Lemaire returning behind the bench for a second stint.
Holik, Rolston and Shanahan won’t have the responsibility or be expected to make the impact they made as younger Devils, but Lemaire has every bit as much say as to what goes on with the team as he did from 1993 to 1998. Lemaire guided the Devils to a franchise-first Stanley Cup during his second season and had New Jersey in the playoffs all but one of his five years behind the bench.
Though if you want to be picky, McKeon is technically right that Holik won't have the responsibility or expectation to make an impact in this coming season. He's not on the team. Bobby Holik retired back in May.
At first glance, this looks real silly, saying that Holik is still on the team. It still looks silly upon further glances. I'd like to think McKeon was trying to make his point about the old Devils being on the team with some role and just made an oversight. But that's a pretty big benefit of the doubt and I'm not willing to give it. I don't think many readers would either.
Also: Brian Rolston is certainly expecting himself to make an impact - he said as such at the beginning of September, as reported by Tom Gulitti. Maybe McKeon didn't do all that much research?
But if you read on, after an extensive overview of the Devils history and how they "bored" teams and how the style was "predictable," he does note that Jacques Lemaire is looking to implement a more offensive system. McKeon at least researched that much. It is what Chere and Gulitti have been reporting that straight from the coach himself since training camp started. So he gives Lemaire the proper credit there.
McKeon helpfully includes a little blurb about the salary cap, that all important factor when any transaction comes into play. Unfortunately, the numbers are a bit off depending on how you look at the roster. According to CapGeek, the Devils have committed approximately $51.6 million in salary and therefore they have approximately $5.1 million in cap space. But McKeon's figures are justified with NHL Numbers' calculation of the Devils' roster. Basically, if you consider Cory Murphy's and Rob Davison's $500,000 two-way contracts to be with New Jersey, use CapGeek's values. If not, then McKeon is right. Either way, the main point of the Devils having cap space is right.
McKeon's "Three Keys" are pretty much vanilla, with paragraphs going over the goaltenders, forwards, and defense as a group. For Martin Brodeur, once again, "workload will be an issue" - because, well, he's old and well, putting that workload hasn't been an issue aside, you know, he's old.
For the forwards, McKeon does highlight that the Devils are experienced at forward with a younger core - read Zach Parise and Travis Zajac - emerging. Yet, he states that since Brian Gionta is on another team, someone else must emerge. Perhaps. Or perhaps Brian Rolston can make an impact like he said he wanted to and that would suffice as a replacement.
For the defense, it's nothing you haven't heard of before. Unit has no "name" defenseman be it a true #1 defenseman or an offensive defenseman; and so they must work together to succeed. All true; but nothing new to Devils fans since that was the case for the last two seasons.
McKeon's biggest flaw in the preview is that he states that Lou Lamoriello is on the hot seat. I am not making this up.
On the hot seat: GM Lamoriello is the one on the spot here. He knows he lost a lot of talent in Brian Gionta and John Madden, two very different type players. He lost arguably last year’s team MVP in backup goalie Clemmensen.
I'm sorry, Ross McKeon, but what dimension were you in when you wrote this? Because you were clearly not based in reality. Lou is the GM, CEO, and President of the New Jersey Devils hockey club. He has built this team up from the late 1980s to succeed in the 1990s and to remain successful in the 2000s. Despite the playoff disappointments post-lockout, the Devils continue to be one of the best teams in the league and they are always difficult opponents. Nearly every franchise except for Detroit would want what the Devils have accomplished. If anything, Lou's seat is as solid as diamond and he has the fanbase's backing for all he has done even as of today.
Because John Madden, Gionta, and Scott Clemmensen are signed with different teams, he's on the hot seat. That's ludicrous and ridiculous. It's at this point of the preview, anyone with any knowledge of the Devils would basically stop reading and say a silent "You got to be kidding me" to themselves. Terrible.
I will give McKeon a few points for being a bit original and naming Rod Pelley as a player to "blossom" based on how he was named by Lou to replace John Madden. McKeon is right to point out how that is a pretty tall order, but that if he can do it, it will be a big gain. I hope Pelley does blossom, so I agree just because I hope McKeon is right about this.
Yet, McKeon continues the pessimism and the confusion to end the preview. In a section called "Time has passed" it seems unfinished and ends with "Now, with John Madden gone, the trademark checking line is broken up." This trademark checking line was broken up last season when Jay Pandolfo and John Madden started off poorly and when Pandolfo continued to play poorly. I feel like McKeon wanted to end this section with something like "What has been a consistent source of success for the team is now fading away and it leaves doubt for the team." But he didn't. It was odd.
Lastly, there is a prediction to close this out and McKeon actually gives one, stating that they'll be fighting for their playoff lives. He at least gives an argument in that last season the Devils overachieved and rather than expecting that again, they'll have problems. Unfortunately, he doesn't go further and state whether or not they'll make the playoffs just where they will end in the division. I don't agree, but at least it's something.
Overall Outlook: Pessimistic, Prediction: Third in the Atlantic
This could have been an interesting, alternative perspective to Wyshynski's preview. But it isn't. However, the two big flaws give the reader an unfortunate lasting impression of the article. While there was some evidence of different opinions on the team, but that's in between some "more of the same" opinions seen in other previews. If you need to read one Devils preview from Yahoo!, I'd recommend Wyshynski's over McKeon's.
Bonus Preview to Review: FantasyPros911.com's Atlantic Division Preview by Carl Lombardi
Kevin Orris of FantasyPros911 alerted me to this article, so I figure, OK, let's take a look. This is a bit of an difficult one to review because Carl Lombardi gets right to the point, so there's not exactly a whole lot to comb through. Beneficial if you need something quick and it helps reduce the possibility of error. But it does leave me wanting more.
Each one of his team previews in the division has a short overview section, as well as separate sections for forwards, defensemen, and goaltenders. In terms of predictions, that comes in the order of the team previews. The New Jersey Devils are the second on Lombardi's list, so he's thinking them to finish behind Pittsburgh.
It starts off with this sentence that I and I'm sure most of you would agree with:
It’s funny, every year the pundits say that this season is the one in which the Devils fall apart and finally miss the playoffs. I don’t see that happening even though they lost RW Brian Gionta (20 g 40a) and C John Madden (7g 16a) to the Canadiens and Blackhawks respectively.
One thing is for sure, Carl Lombardi is not a doubter in New Jersey.
The rest of the section is generic, really. Lombardi tips David Clarkson to step up this season among a forward corp led by Zach Parise. He states that the defense has no real star and isn't all that offensive. And he doesn't really say much about the goaltending other than Martin Brodeur is great. All of which is true and that's fine on it's face, but it's nothing you haven't read or heard of unless this is the first preview you've read about the Devils.
Overall Outlook: Optimistic, Prediction: 2nd in the Atlantic, Playoffs
Now it's time to have your say. Again, big thanks to Zelepukin for bringing up the McKeon preview and to Kevin Orris for noting his fellow author's work. What did you think of Ross McKeon preview? What did you think of the "bonus review" of Carl Lombardi's preview? Should I include more "bonuses?" Leave your thoughts in the comments.