ILWT Audition: What the Young New Jersey Devils Could Become

Over a week ago, I put out the call looking for new writers for In Lou We Trust to write about the New Jersey Devils. I've opened up the audition to the community at large in order to get a new perspectives and additional voices on the front page with regularity.  Since then, I've received seven entries and I thank each one of them - you know who you are - for stepping up and making an entry.

Throughout this week, I will post each one under an anonymous name so you can discuss and critique the post without regard to who actually wrote it.  I can ensure you that I did not change any of the content outside of formatting it in to the SBN platform and fixing spelling errors.  To that end, please note that I don't necessarily agree with what the posts actually say.  I'm just letting them stand on their own.  Please be constructive in any criticism and do offer your thoughts about whether you liked the post in addition to discussing it's content.

The fifth entrant comes from Writer E user mtorino75, who has written a piece focusing on immediate future of the New Jersey Devils.  The focus is on both young players and prospects in the system we could be seeing soon.  Is there a reason to look forward to the future, or rather should we hope for the best now given an uncertain future? Writer E User mtorino75 makes the argument after the jump.

As fans of the New Jersey Devils, most of us have been watching the team for years. We know what Patrik Elias has been for this team and what his role could become in the future. We've watched Jamie Langenbrunner evolve from role player to captain to pariah. Zach Parise and Travis Zajac have grown up before our eyes and we pretty much know the maximum of what they'll become. Will Travis be Gretzky and Zach Jagr? No, but they could become one of the top tier offensive duos in the league or the next A-Line if they can find a good enough right wing. But what about those that haven't scratched the surface on their potential? What about those that we haven't seen yet? 

First is one of the most polarizing Devils since I've been a fan, David Clarkson. His ceiling may not be as high as someone like Milan Lucic, who could very well be a 30 goal scorer and enforcer, but he'll probably turn into something more useful than he is now. The thing is that the Devils may just not be the right team for him. As much as I'd hate to say it, he fits better on Philadelphia. The rough and tumble Flyers would maximize Clarkson and use him to his full potential. There's also the chance to play with other truculent players if he's traded to the Leafs to play for Brian Burke. But the Devils are more of a finesse team and someone like Clarkson who can't skate and whose main offensive weapon is an embarrassing wraparound may just not reach his potential here. He just may be a poor man's Randy McKay in the new NHL.

Next is 2009-10's revelation Andy Greene. Was it Jacques Lemaire's system that just brought out Greene's best or did he just figure it out? I think Greene was finally shown how to show some sort of defensive responsibility in a system that requires it under Lemaire as opposed to Brent Sutter's system that focused more on offense. It's possible that Andy just focused on his offense in that system and didn't really learn anything. But then the World Championships get thrown in and Greene was mediocre by any standards, logging the 5th most minutes of the US's defensemen. So right now, he appears as a wild card, but we'll deal with that if Paul Martin leaves as Greene's contract runs until next year.

Then there's the curious case of the Swedish prospects Mattias Tedenby and Jacob Josefson. There's been praise heaped upon Tedenby for his tremendous Pavel Bure-esque potential but there's also been a troubling comparison drawn because of his somewhat spotty inability to finish: Maxim Afinogenov. Lindy Ruff once proclaimed that Buffalo had found its Pavel Bure but they didn't count on what Sabres fans have called the logo seeking missile. He just shot it at the goalie's chest, like something out of NHL 10. Like Tedenby, he had all the moves to get to the goalie but he couldn't put it through. While Tedenby has all the moves, it's just not known how well he can finish yet. There's tremendous boom or bust potential. He could be Bure or he could be Maxim Afinogenov. Let's hope he goes boom and has some sort of aim on his shots.

Josefson seems like the more safe pick. Some say he's the next Zetterberg but at least he has the leadership capabilities for sure. He'll likely be a third line center at worst and a strong second liner at best, unless he surprises everyone a la Hank. When you're playing in a men's league when you're 18, it means your probably something special. Maybe it's just me, but I have more faith in someone like him than Tedenby. The Afinogenov comparisons scare me to death.

Then there are guys like Alexander Urbom, Brandon Burlon and Jeff Frazee that just seem like wild cards at this point. Urbom's had a great last year but really who knows with him. There have been a ton of young guys who have impressed throughout the NHL and just flamed out. Look at guys like Dan Blackburn with the Rangers and Patrick Stefan. They got there early and didn't do anything. Don't let one training camp fool you. Burlon seems to be doing alright at college but really who knows at this point. Frazee seems to alternate between awful and good years but again, he's a wild card as well.

All we as Devils fans can do is hope at least some of these guys blossom to form a solid, homegrown nucleus like the one we had a decade ago. Free agency seems to have clouded Lou's mind but hopefully he'll get back to his old business of developing great players. Maybe that reloading starts with these guys or Eric Gelinas or even Mark Fraser. Because if it doesn't we're in trouble.

Editor's Note: The above was written by Writer E user mtorino75. Now it's your turn. What did you think of the piece? Do you share the author's concerns about the Devils' future? Do you think Mattias Tedenby is a player who should be considered like Maxim Afinogenov, someone who had a good NHL career? Is there anything about the post itself you liked or didn't like? Would you like to see more of this writing at ILWT? Please leave your thoughts in the comments and remember - be constructive, not destructive.

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