ILWT Audition: Rising or Falling: A Quick Review of the Devils NHL-ish Players

Vladimir Zharkov made it onto the New Jersey Devils roster and stayed up throughout the season. Writer F User C.J.Richey121 feels Zharkov has made his case of staying in New Jersey in the future. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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 sixth entrant comes from Writer F user C.J.Richey121 who has written a piece about the New Jersey Devils who on the fringe of the roster.  Writer F briefly summarizes their 2009-10 season and determines whether their stock of becoming a regular on the New Jersey Devils has risen or fallen.   Who should we have high hopes going into this September's training camp? C.J.Richey121 gives an assessment after the jump.

The New Jersey Devils saw 5 fresh faces play 20+ games last year and many others who didn't see that much time. Some (Mark Fraser, Rod Pelley, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond) were a little older than others (Vladimir Zharkov, Matt Halischuk).  Pelley could probably be excluded from this list because he played 58 games in 07-08 but I added him anyway.  Each of these 5 players performed differently this season, some helped their cause and some hurt it.  I classified the players who I thought played well and made an impression as stock rising, the ones that I thought didn't perform as well as they should of were classified as stock fallinghttp://www.sbnation.com/javascripts/vendor/tiny_mce_3_0_7/plugins/pagebreak/img/trans.gif

Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond: Before last season the Devils signed free agent "enforcer" Andrew Peters, because of this Leblond's future with the Devils didn't look bright. He started the season on the bench and spent most of the it there or on the IR with a mysterious upper-body injury. In the first 60 games of the season Leblond had only played in 18 getting 1 assist, 24 PIM, and averaging 4:46 a game. The turning point in Leblond's season and perhaps career was on March 20th in a game against St. Louis and ex-Devil Cam Janssen. Janssen and Leblond dropped the gloves early in the first and then did this.  Leblond went on to play in 8 of the remaining 11 games coming up with 1 assist, 14 PIM, and averaging 7:18 a game. He also played in all 5 of the Devils playoff games. Because of this end of the season turn around Leblond should be the Devils go to enforcer next season. Rising

Rod Pelley: Pelley was supposed to be the Devils next big defensive center.  Some even thought he would replace John Madden. It didn't look like that would happen when the Devils signed defensive center Rob Niedermayer before the start of the season. That signing turned out well because Pelley didn't live up to the expectations. He played in 63 games and had 2 goals, 8 assists, a -4 rating and averaged 7:52 a game. He also only played 1:43 in shorthanded time all season, so he was not relied on for his defensive play. When switched to wing Pelley started to play better but was still nothing special.  I still think Pelley could be a solid 4th liner in the future but never as the defensive specialist he was made out to be.  Falling

Mark Fraser: Fraser began last season on the IR after being rocked by Flyers pest Daniel Carcillo in the preseason.  On October 24th Fraser got his first start in the NHL since the 06-07 season (and first NHL goal) because of a Mike Mottau injury. He then got to stay in the line-up due to Paul Martin's injury in that game.  He went on to play in 61 total games totaling 3 goals, 3 assists, 36 PIM and averaging 12:23 a game. He played in 1 playoff game but didn't due to swell. Giving up a bad turnover that led to a goal. Aside from that playoff game, Fraser had a solid year in his defensive defensemen role and should be in the battle for a starting spot next year. Rising

Matt Halischuk: Halischuk also started the season in New Jersey but unlike Leblond and Fraser, he ended it in Lowell. Halischuk did play 21 games during his stay with the big club putting up an assist, a goal, a -4 rating, and averaged 11:18 a game.  He played in only 32 games for Lowell because he suffered from some sort of injury that I couldn't find more information on. He had 11 goals and 11 assists, and a +6 rating (AHL doesn't keep track of TOI?).  Despite starting the season in New Jersey and putting up good stats in Lowell, Halischuk has been a victim of injury plagued seasons the past 2 years (knee injury in 08-09) and couldn't keep his spot in New Jersey. With the Devils depth at wing Halischuk had to step up when given a chance. Falling

Vladimir Zharkov: Zharkov started the season in Lowell and had 6 goals, 15 assist, and a +10 in 23 games. He was called up to New Jersey after Clarkson went down with a leg injury. Zharkov impressed in his debut and continued to play well which led to him staying up in New Jersey the rest of the year.He played in 40 games in New Jersey tallying 10 assists, no goals, a +2 rating, and averaged 11:26 a game.  Zharkov also had an impressive skill of drawing penalties. Zharkov was unable to score his first NHL goal though, which is probably why he didn't play much at the end of the season.  Once Zharkov can get that scoring touch he should be a threat in the NHL. Rising

To sum it up real nice for you I think that Leblond, Fraser, and Zharkov's stock is rising after spending significant time in New Jersey this year.  While Halischuk and Pelley's stock is falling due to their unsuccessful stints in New Jersey. Please give your thoughts on these players and whether you agree or disagree with me.

Editor's Note: The above was written by Writer F C.J.Richey121. Now it's your turn. What did you think of the piece? Do you have the same opinions about each of these players? If not, what don't you agree with?  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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