1/16/12 New Jersey Devils Prospect Update: NHL Point Contributions by Defensive Unit

Its prospect update time! After the jump we'll look at the point production of defensive units across the NHL, and of course get all the updated stats for Devils prospects. Click the link for more.

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Since the mid-part of last decade the Devils have been severely lacking in point production by their defensive unit. Consistently in the bottom third of the league, the lack of production by the defensive core puts a lot of pressure on the forwards to be the group to generate offense. Point production is a not a 100% guarantee of success by a club, but as evidenced by the listing below, it certainly is a good indicator.

No matter how you slice it, (and I have sorted below by total points, even-strength points and power play points) the Devils are 27th in the league in point production by the defense. This shouldn't be that surprising. Looking at their defensive core, it shouldn't be that surprising. Let's look at the points per game each has in their career.

Henrik Tallinder: 0.22 PPG at the NHL level. Season high of 21 points with Buffalo in 2005-06.

Anton Volchenkov: 0.20 PPG at the NHL level. Season high of 19 points with Ottawa in 2006-07.

Bryce Salvador: 0.16 PPG at the NHL level. Season high of 16 points with New Jersey in 2008-09.

Andy Greene: 0.30 PPG at the NHL level. Season high of 37 points with New Jersey in 2009-10.

Kurtis Foster: 0.42 PPG at the NHL level. Season high of 42 points with Tampa Bay in 2009-10.

Mark Fayne: 0.23 PPG at the NHL level, 0.35 PPG at the NCAA level. Season high in NCAA of 22 in 2009-10.

Adam Larsson: 0.36 PPG at the NHL level, 0.30 at the SEL level. Season high in SEL of 17 in 2009-2010.

Matt Taormina: 0.28 at the NHL level, 0.61 at the AHL level, 0.46 at the NCAA level. Season high in AHL of 50 in 2009-10.

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In the post-lockout NHL needs teams to have a strong mixture of playmakers and responsible defenders to compete. The Devils are currently able to do so, despite having a more defensive minded unit. Hopefully the Devils develop a more healthy balance in the future. One of the benefits to following the farm system so closely is that you know offensive help is on the way. Whether it's Jon Merrill or Eric Gelinas, the Devils have some prospects who can generate offensive opportunities.

In the second half of the year, I am hoping the points production from the defense can increase. With a more comfortable Larsson, the return of Greene and Foster being entrenched at the point on the power play, the Devils blue-line should produce more points than it did in the season's first half.

News and Notes:

The Michigan Wolverines are 3-0-1 since the return of Jon Merrill, beating one of the top teams in the nation, Ohio State, by a combined score of 8-1 in their two game series over the weekend. Michigan has outscored their opponents 14-5 over the course of the four games since Merrill's return. Merrill has four assists in four games with a plus six rating. Think the Wolverines missed him?

While his total numbers don't look great, Maxime Clermont went 2-0 over the past week with .969 save percentage and a 0.96 GAA. The streaky Clermont, could be in store for a big second half in the ECHL.

With a win over the Adirondack on Monday afternoon, the A-Devs with 42 points are now in a three way tie for second in their division. They are two points behind the Connecticut Whale (home of Wade Redden, Sean Avery and future home of Brad Richards) with a game at hand.

That's it for this week, please leave any prospect related questions or comments below. Thanks for reading and sound off below!

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