Watching game seven of the 2003 Stanley Cup finals on NHL Network last night, I came across Bill Clement's description of the Devils' franchise.
"The Devils are like a creature that you can chop off an arm or a leg and they will just grow another one, right away." - Bill Clement in game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup finals
The question I would like to raise is this: is this franchise still the 'creature?' Now I'm sure someone will point to 2008-09, when Martin Brodeur missed 50 games, and nobody gave the Devils a chance, yet they won the division, and Martin Brodeur went on to break Patrick Roy's win record and reach 100 shutouts that season. Patrik Elias also missed chunks of the 2009-10 season, Paul Martin missed over 50 games last season as well, yet the Devils continued to win. However, what the Devils have not had to deal with is the loss of Parise or Zajac for an extended period of time, and hopefully we can add Ilya Kovalchuk to that list of top scorers. Can the Devils afford to lose any of those guys? What about Volchenkov? This team has transitioned, as every team has since the lockout, and I believe that the Devils are slightly more dependant on individuals, although the franchise has continued to stress the use of a fourth line (whereas if you were a fourth liner across the Hudson, you probably saw 3-5 minutes of ice time per night).
It is not a good thing nor bad to be the 'creature,' I still believe every member of the Devils has value and is needed to fill their respective roles, but this is not the Devils of the past. Another question to raise is can you interchange players in and out, and you look at Phoenix and the answer is yes.