This week's edition of the Eastern Edge looks at the 2016 offseason outlooks for the New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators …
After covering the offseason outlook for the Buffalo Sabres and Montreal Canadiens last week, we continue our climb up the Eastern Conference standings. This week will see the spotlight put on the New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators, two teams with different sets of expectations heading into the year that finished well outside of a playoff spot in the East. The focus will be put primarily on the short-term rather than the long-term future, although the developments of the next few months will certainly have a great impact on keeper leagues as well.
The Devils had very low expectations heading into this year and were expected to be in the running for Auston Matthews. All things considered, their 84-point output has to be considered a major success. In fact, they were just nine points out of a playoff spot.
As expected, the Devils finished dead-last with just 184 goals and were also last by a wide margin in shots per game. As the team made the move away from its core of mostly veteran forwards to younger options there were bound to be some growing pains. Meanwhile, the team finished ninth in goals allowed and eighth in shots against per game, as Cory Schneider solidified himself as one of the top goalies in the world.
While the Devils failed to light the lamp frequently as a unit, there were several bright spots up front. The top line of Mike Cammalleri, Adam Henrique and Lee Stempniak had incredible chemistry as all three produced quality numbers. As a result of their strong play, Stempniak was able to fetch a second-round pick at the trade deadline from the Boston Bruins.
Additionally, the youth movement gave the opportunity for some new faces to take on greater roles. The most significant breakout player was Kyle Palmieri who surprised with 30 goals and a team-leading 57 points. The fact he was able to get 222 shots on goal bodes well for his future, as his goal total will be more sustainable long-term. The timing of Palmieri’s arrival could not have been better, as there is currently nobody in the organization to challenge him for the top spot on the depth chart at right wing.
The other offensive hopeful is Reid Boucher who only played 39 games but managed 19 points and averaged almost two shots per game despite an average ice time of 14:16. While big numbers are unlikely from Boucher, he should still be considered a solid late-round option in dra