Eastern Edge – BeDeviled

by Russ on June 13, 2017
Cory Schneider - USA TODAY Sports Images

 

The New Jersey Devils are a team most fantasy poolies avoid and for good reason. At the height of their goodness, they were the poster child for boring, low-scoring hockey while playing the trap to perfection. Before trading for Taylor Hall, they were devoid of high-end talent and relied on a strong defensive structure and Cory Schneider to win games.

The Devils may get an unexpected asset if they are able to sign and deal 37-year-old Ilya Kovalchuk. In addition to that, they own the first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft and are set to add what should be another young offensive piece, although there is no guarantee that whomever they select in 10 days time will even make the Devils in the fall.

If they retain the first overall selection, the Devils will very likely add one of two centers; Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier. There is a possibility that they go their own way, but that would qualify as quite a surprise.

 

 

Cory Schneider

 

Ugly. I think that’s the best way to describe this season for Schneider. Heading into 2016-17, I’d wager most of you had Schneider amongst the top-10 goaltenders on your draft lists, despite the fact that the Devils haven’t provided very many wins over the last several years. His goals-against average and save percentage numbers have typically been very solid.

Here are Schneider’s numbers since arriving in New Jersey:

 

Season

GP

Wins

GAA

SV%

2013-14

45

16

1.97

0.921

2014-15

69

26

2.26

0.925

2015-16

58

27

2.15

0.924

2016-17

60

20

2.86

0.908

 

The question is what happened last year for his numbers to completely fall off the map? Was Adam Larsson that good defensively? Is Taylor Hall atrocious on the defensive side of the game?  The answer is that it doesn’t really matter if this is the new norm for Schneider and the Devils.

Unless there is an infusion of talent, redemption is going to be largely on the goaltender to shoulder the load. I think Schneider redeems himself somewhat this season, but I can’t see his goals-against average or save percentage coming back to where they were during his first three seasons with New Jersey.

 

Damon Severson

 

Severson started 2016-17 with a bang, blazing his way to 12 points in his first 15 games, which was a 65-point pace. Over the remaining 65 matches, though, he only managed 19 points (a 24-point pace), which made for some awfully long dry spells for his owners. Severson finished with a career-high 31 points in 80 games.

There is plenty of evidence that Severson has more offensive legs left. He had 61 points in 64 games during his final year of junior and followed that with 18 points in 14 playoff matches. He jumped right to the NHL, recording 17 points in 51 games in his rookie campaign. In his sophomore season, Severson played in 72 games, garnering 21 points. He also received a little AHL seasoning, getting in three minor league matches, scoring one point, but he did record eight points in 11 AHL playoff contests to close that year.

Assuming the Devils sign the pending restricted free agent, what does the coming season hold for the 22-year-old defenseman? Much will depend on whether or not the team adds another defenseman with offensive chops, but it is easy to envision a 40-point future as early as the coming season.

 

Taylor Hall

 

Hall was visibly disappointed after being dealt to the Devils from the Oil patch. That said, his overall points per game in his first season as a Devil (0.74), was consistent with his final two seasons in Edmonton, 0.79 and 0.72. Over the first three quarters of this campaign, Hall had 41 points in 52 games, 0.79 point per game or a 65-point pace, but his production fell off to only 0.60 points per game in the final stanza.

So, while it’s not all doom and gloom now that Hall isn’t playing in Edmonton, it’s hard to see him improving dramatically to more than a 65-point pace for the foreseeable future.

 

Pavel Zacha

 

Big and talented, the sixth overall selection from the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Zacha is another player who made the transition to the NHL directly from junior. His final junior season saw him notch 28 goals, 64 points and 97 penalty minutes in 51 games.

He had an inconsistent rookie season that saw Zacha record 24 points in 70 NHL contests. There was a decent 28-game stretch from mid-January to the end of March, where he recorded 17 points, a 50-point pace. On the season, he averaged 1:50 minutes per game on the power play, which is a good sign, but those minutes are far from guaranteed.

What can we expect for his sophomore season? Even with the pending addition of another offensive whiz kid, I think this is the lowest Zacha’s stock will ever be. If you can grab him at a reasonable price, now would be the time to do so in keeper/dynasty settings.

 

John Quenneville

 

In his first professional season, all John Quenneville did was lead the Devils AHL affiliate, the Albany Devils, with 46 points in 58 games (a 65-point pace). He also led the farm team in playoff scoring with four points in as many games. Quenneville managed to get in 12 NHL contests as well, recording four points, two of which came via the power play.

The final pick of the first round in the 2014 NHL entry draft, Quenneville recorded 31 goals and 73 points in 57 games in his final junior campaign. He followed that by scoring 16 goals and 27 points in 21 playoff games and two points in three Memorial Cup matches.

Along with Pavel Zacha, Michael McLeod and whomever the Devils choose with the first overall pick this year, keep John Quenneville’s name in mind as another player who could be in the mix next year.