If you ask any Devils fan that frequents the hockey blogosphere, you’ll find that most of them have at least heard of (if they haven’t already read any of his work) Todd Cordell. Currently the Devils and Flames writer on Hockey Buzz, and a scout for HockeProspects.com, Todd’s coverage, analysis, and knowledge on the Devils, and the game of hockey in general is unparalleled. As a routine reader of his work, I think I can speak for all Devils fans when I say how fortunate we are to have a writer of his expertise covering our team.
I’ve been privileged to write with and for Todd over the past few years and never pass up on a chance to catch up with him. I recently got a chance to talk Devils hockey and NHL-related happenings with Mr. Cordell. We covered how he feels about Andy Greene as the new Devils captain, Kyle Palmeri’s first year with the team, and much more. I personally want to thank Todd for taking time out of his extremely busy schedule to answer these few questions that I prepared for him. If you don’t already, make sure to give Todd a follow on Twitter @ToddCordell and check out his Devils and other hockey content.
On the Devils…
Contrary to what we initially thought, the Devils named a captain for the 2015-2016 season in Andy Greene. Aside from his veteran status and longevity with the team, what other factors do you think made Greene the best choice to inherit the captaincy?
Well for starters Greene was voted captain by his teammates so that speaks to the respect they have for him. He doesn’t come off as a vocal leader but he’s a guy who leads by example and is essentially the perfect pro. You never hear him complaining or throwing anyone under the bus. You never see him lose his cool on the ice. He just goes out there and does his job.
Between covering the Devils and tabs you’ve closely kept on the Anaheim Ducks, you’ve seen a lot of Kyle Palmieri. He was acquired with hopes of addressing the Devils’ scoring needs up front, while taking the next step forward in his career. What is it about his new situation in New Jersey that will put him in a position to establish himself as a top-six forward that he didn’t have in Anaheim (despite playing with superstars like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry)?
I think the biggest thing is opportunity. At times he was given quality linemates to play with in Anaheim but he bounced around a lot and never really was given a fair shake to be a top-6 guy on a nightly basis. With contending teams you don’t get time to work your way through things so if the production isn’t there immediately you won’t stick in your spot. In New Jersey he’s firmly entrenched in their top-6 and will get 16+ minutes a night regardless if he’s slumping or not. His rate stats have been good throughout his career so the points should come as long as opportunity is there.
Ray Shero selected goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, who you’ve seen a good amount of having covered the Barrie Colts. While he’s likely a few years away, Blackwood is the forefront of a replenished goaltending prospect pool that the Devils haven’t had for years. In the long term, how do you project Blackwood fitting in the Devils’ plans?
Obviously developing goaltenders can be a bit of a crapshoot at times but all indications are Blackwood will be a good one. If he continues to progress I think he has the potential to be a good starter down the road. He has the ideal size of a modern day goaltender but is also very athletic and flexible for someone of his stature.
Around the league…
Another team you formerly covered was the Columbus Blue Jackets, who is the only remaining winless team this year. They were expected to rebound from last season’s performance. While it’s still very early, their early start (0-7-0) has proved to be very discouraging. Simply put, what’s the main factor that’s preventing things from clicking in Columbus?
It’s a combination of a couple things. First of all their defense has been mediocre at best for a few years now and they have not elected not to do anything about it. That’s hurting them and will continue to do so. Another problem is Sergei Bobrovsky has not been playing like Sergei Bobrovsky thus far and he’s submarining the team with his .835 save percentage. That obviously won’t last but it’s nearly impossible to win with subpar goaltending and that’s what we’ve seen from the Jackets thus far.
Who would you say is one team that is getting the most out of their offseason acquisitions early on this season?
For me it’s gotta be San Jose. Joel Ward has been a nice add contributing four points in his first six games. Paul Martin looks like a perfect fit alongside Brent Burns and Martin Jones has been one of the best goaltenders in the early going of this season. I expect the Sharks will get back into the playoffs this year and their new acquisitions will be a big reason why.