If you couldn't tell from the title, this will be a look at projected arrival times for the Devils' top prospects (just the skaters), and a (largely useless) analysis of how that will affect Lou's thought process for this season.
- Jon Merrill: I'm going to start with the organization's top rookie prospect, Jon Merrill. He's a big guy at 6'3'' ,has exceptional "hockey I.Q" in whatever part of the ice he happens to be in, possesses good mobility, soft hands, and a decent shot. That said, he only has 12 pro games under his belt (though he did put up an impressive 8 points) and I think that we can safely expect to see him suit up for the NHL squad to start the 2014-'15 season.
- Alexander Urbom: This is the player that many believe Lou referenced when he said that we had a young defenseman ready to make the jump. Urbom is another big guy, measuring 6'3", 216 lbs and is VERY good in his own zone with nice physicality, but even with his booming shot, doesn't have much in the way of translatable offense. In 3 AHL seasons, he has put up 43 points, and with Marek Zidlicky as our only offensive defenseman, I don't think that Urbom will be in the NHL to start the season (though if there are any injuries, you can believe he'll get a call from management).
- Eric Gelinas: Gelinas has the best offense (right now) out of all our defensive prospects, and is yet another with 6'3" frame, along with a big shot and not-so-great defensive prowess. He has two AHL seasons on his resume, and in those seasons has totaled a nice 59 points; I think this is Lou's guy for the upcoming season.
- Reid Boucher: Breaking from the trend of defensemen, let's take a look at the winger who caught everyone's attention last season with the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. He's not very big at 5'10" (which of course isn't tiny), but has an amazing shot, good passing, a nose for the net, good grit, and a sub-par but improving defensive game. Last year he recorded an astounding 95 points in the OHL and a good start in the AHL, with 5 points in 11 games; however, as he is very un-refined and only 20 years old, we probably won't see him suit up for the NHL Devils for another four or five years.
- Damon Severson: Yay, more defensemen! Well, this 6'2" two-way defenseman is really something to get excited about. He does everything well (shooting, passing, skating, body checking, positioning, you name it) but not exceptionally. He really showed his stuff last year in Kelowna of the WHL with 52 points and recorded 2 points in a 2 game stint with Albany. He'll play in Albany this year, and do well; I think that in he's far enough ahead in his development to break in with Jon Merrill.
- Steve Santini: This is the last prospect I'll be taking a look at, but he's a good one. Though not a giant at 6'2", Santini has an incredible defensive game, including good hitting, defensive positioning, and instincts, but nothing in the way of offense (absolutely NOTHING). I know that we just drafted him, but he's so mature already in the area where he excels that I think he'll break into the league at 22 or 23.
Well, what does that mean for trades this year? It means that Fayne and Volchenkov are expendable on draft day, or even at the trade deadline depending on how the season goes. For instance, if Gelinas displays enough defensive ability, then as more of a two-way than offensive defenseman, he could easily fill Fayne's spot in the line-up and make him a tradable asset; or if Urbom finds his game well in the NHL, Volchenkov, Urbom's fellow defensive defenseman , and his 4 million dollar cap hit don't look so vital anymore. As far as forwards are concerned, I don't think that there will be any moves for immediate roster guys, but if we do end up moving one of our veteran defenseman, a winger prospect wouldn't be a bad idea.
This has been my first ILWT Fanpost, and I hope you enjoyed! If there's anything that I missed or got wrong, feel free to tell me.
-All statistics are from http://www.eliteprospects.com/ and most of the information on prospects from http://www.hockeysfuture.com/ .