When I look at the Devils since the lockout, including this season, they feel like a team that has lost its championship caliber identity. Before the lockout, the Devils system worked and the way the game was played back then supported their style. However, since then, the league has evolved and the Devils haven't made enough of a transition to be highly competitive.
So my question to all of you is, what do the Devils need to do to be elite again?
Much more after the jump.
I have to begin with the goaltender because it is undeniably the most important position on the ice. As Devil fans, we have been very lucky to have one of the most consistent and talented goaltenders of all time standing between the pipes for nearly my entire life (I'm 21). However, moving forward, as much as it pains me to think about it, we need to start looking for another elite goaltender if we want to compete for Lord Stanley's Cup. The Brodeur/ Hedberg tandem has played decent, but not good enough to move forward with them between the pipes for much longer.
On defense, I kinda like where the Devils are. Adam Larsson has made mistakes, but remember, he is only 19 years old and has a ton of potential. Think about what you were doing at 19 and then watch him compete with the most talented players in the world and you will appreciate him even more. I want to see the Devils big money D-Men play like big money guys (please give Volchenkov more ice-time) and they have some youth and talent moving up to the big club. I think if the group can play solid defensively and improve on the offensive side, their defense is the least of their issues.
The offense is what pains me to watch the most. I was ecstatic after the Ilya Kovalchuk trade. I thought that finally the Devils were starting to adjust to the new NHL. But when I watch Kovy play on this team I find myself yelling at the TV because he just looks lost. The Devils system doesn't let him use all of his talents effectively and it shows. I think the Devils lack of focus on their offense is evident more then ever now because their depth is just horrific. Even if Travis Zajac and Jacob Josefson were in the lineup, the team's offensive depth would still be lacking. David Clarkson is just not that good and should be the 9th forward in the top 9 at best. I don't think Dainius Zubrus or Petr Sykora should be in the top 6 (Sykora has always been my favorite Devil) even though the old man line has been playing well. The rest of the offense seems like a joke and I just don't understand why Mattias Tedenby is playing on the fourth line and averages under 11 minutes a game.
Power play so bad.
Penalty kill very good.
The Devils need to focus more on skill in the future, look at where the talent is currently on their team, and tailor their style around that talent. They frustrate me so much some times that I hope they tank for a couple of seasons, draft Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and Jordan Staal, and come back and be dominant again.
But enough of my thoughts, so what do you think the Devils need to do to be elite again?