The Devils and the Lack of Depth at Right Wing

A scenario like this would not be great for the 2011-2012 New Jersey Devils because of their depth, or more accurately their lack of depth at right wing.

If there's one thing that has been concerning me over the last few weeks, it's been the Devils and their Right wings. As of now, the Devils NHL depth chart for the team's right wings should be Zubrus-Palmieri-Clarkson-Zharkov-Janssen- not exactly the best group of right wingers in the league. The Devils lack of depth on the right side isn't just a problem with the big club themselves, but also organizationally as well. Hockeysfuture names only four notable prospects at right wing (3 if you ignore Palmieri), which isn't exactly what you call deep, and most of them are not NHL ready or are in Europe (Jorg). Some of the right wings in the AHL are basically just career AHLers like Stephen Gionta. While the biggest priority over the next season will be re-signing Zach Parise, the right wing problem is just as bad- and it's a problem that might not solve itself for a while.

Short Term Fix: Convert Centers and Left Wingers to the Right Wing

This is probably the best course of action if the Devils suffer a significant injury to a right wing- and will probably happen if it's Dainius Zubrus or Nick Palmieri. David Clarkson can be moved up into the top 6 if that happens, but his weak skating ability will probably mean he'll be a few steps behind some skaters. Converting Mattias Tedenby seems like a logical choice, as he has the skills of a top 6 forward. However, if the Devils are using Tedenby in a sheltered scoring line role (i.e. with Josefson and Clarkson), it's probably better to move Clarkson up as the sheltered scoring line will lose a bit of it's bite. Adam Henrique and Jacob Josefson have both played the on the wing before, but due to the Devils current situation at center it doesn't seem like a likely scenario. Injuries to a bottom 6 right winger are much easier to deal with- if Zharkov goes down they can replace him with Janssen, Gionta or Henrique.

The Draft and the organization

Again, i've also mentioned the team's lack of right wingers earlier when it comes to prospects. The Devils have 8 picks going into next season- all 7 of their picks and the Caps 2nd round pick (Via the Jason Arnott trade), although they may surrender their 1st round pick for the Kovalchuk "penalty" (thanks a lot comissioner jerkface) if they finish high enough in the standings. While the first round pick isn't nearly as important, the Devils do have all their picks after that, and they should focus on drafting right wings, or centers who can be converted to right wingers with their later round picks. Their current crop of right wings should be good enough, but the organizational depth at the position is pretty terrible, especially considering Perkovich is still unsigned per capgeek and Mauro Jorg, who is playing overseas, is not yet signed.Currently the AHL features a bunch of useless AHLers like Gionta, a few prospects like Sislo and Henrique, and veterans like Janssen. It's not great, but the team could use a few more prospects who can play right wing.

Free Agency

This probably won't be discussed as much, because the Devils have more important free agents to worry about, like Zach Parise and the real problems start in 2013, when Clarkson and Zubrus go UFA, with the latter not being retained. I really don't see free agency as a solution to this, as it's a while away, and we'd at least have to judge the team's performance this season rather than jumping to conclusions.

Conclusions

If anything, the depth problems at right wing have more to do with the team's organizational depth at the position rather than their NHL depth. While Janssen does have NHL experience, he's not a very good hockey player. This problem isn't going to be solved now, but it's something the Devils should think about going into the draft next season.

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