During The 2011 NHL Entry Draft on June 24th, the Devils used their 4th overall pick and selected Swedish defensemen Adam Larsson. At 6'3 220 pounds, he not only boasts size, but also skill. An offensive minded right handed shooting defensemen Larsson fills two of the three holes left by Rafalski. With his potential of being a number one defensemen possibly all three in the future. I do not wish to rush him into the NHL, I'd much rather him eat big minutes in the AHL for at least a year. Allow him to become accustomed to the league and the Devils system. I'm sure he will be given a good look during training camp and while anything can happen, I hope he spends the year in Albany.
November 22nd 2010 Mark Fayne played his first career NHL game as an emergancy call-up. The right handed 6'3 220 pound Fayne was paired with free agent aquisition Henrik Tallinder and soon after the chemistry developed. He went on to play 57 games where he put up 4 goals and 14 points and was a +10. At 24 years of age he showed the reliable two way game we have come to expect from Devils defensemen.
Matt Taormina opened the 2010-2011 season on the Devils roster, under head coach John MacLean. In the 17 games he played before his injury he put up 3 goals and 5 points. He saw some time of the Devils powerplay and put up a powerplay goal. He showed some nice offensive abilities and will once again compete for a spot on this years roster.
Along with the likes of Henrik Tallinder, Andy Greene, Anton Volchenkov and possibly Bryce Salvador, Mark Fraser and Matt Corrente these are the defensemen I see who have the best shot at cracking the line-up.
As for the forwards:
Drafted 20th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, 20 year old Jacob Josefson, 6'1 190 pound Swedish center, is one of the Devils top prospects and is heavily favored to make the lineup and play a full season. He boasts a good two-way game and has nice playmaking ability. He was praised by former coach Jaques Lemaire for his play during the 2010-2011 season. He looks to be slotted as the 3rd line center. SpeIn terms of speed, he is definatly an upgrade over Jason Arnott and Adam Mair, certainly more offensively gifted then Mair. He racked up 3 goals and 10 points in his first 28 games of his career, with a +/- of +5.
Selected with the Devils 1st round, 24th overall pick Swedish left winger Mattias Tedenby showed great promise with his first taste of NHL action. The 5'9 170 pound speedy winger showed glimpes of greatness with is deking and playmaking abilities and put up 8 goals and 22 points in 58 games and finished a +3. He will likely be Josefson's left winger on the third line, where he was slotted some of last year. Also, with is great speed he is an upgrade over Brian Rolston and Jamie Langenbrunner.
The 6'3 220 pound Nick Palmieri was drafted 79th overall in the 2007 NHL Entry draft. He had his first taste of the NHL in the 09-10 season playing 6 games and recording an assist. The 2010-2011 season found Nick play along the same line as star winger Ilya Kovalchuk where he picked up 9 goals and 17 points. He used his big frame well protecting the puck along the boards and screening opposing goaltenders. I think he showed good chemistry with Ilya Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac. With Zach Parise re-signed I think Nick will have to fight for a roster spot as a top 6 forward, but I think he has a good chance of coming back for the 2011-2012 season.
In my mind these are the top three forward prospects the Devils have. They will be joining Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, Dianius Zubrus, David Clarkson, David Steckel. Fighting for spots with the recently signed Eric Boulton and Cam Janssen. Vladimir Zharkov, Rod Pelley and Tim Sestito are also in the mix.
Compared to last year I think this group is a much faster one and will only be getting faster, although not as experienced. Sure Colin White may not be replaced to a t this year and Brian Rolston's slap shot wont be back, but the Devils are in somewhat of a transition phase. And will be better for it with players like Josefson, Tedenby and Larsson leading the way.
This is my opinion, but I'd like to know what you, the reader thinks. Are the Devils becoming a faster team?