In the offseason of the NHL, many fans get stir crazy. There are only a few big milestones for fans to pay attention to. The rest of the summer is filled with the latest NHL hockey video game and maybe some outdoor events that teams hold around the league. For those fans that check in once in awhile or don’t really pay attention during the summer months here is a recap of where the Devils are at with signings, coaching changes and more.
It’s finally that time again. Starting with our pre-season opener on Friday, HOCKEY IS BACK! I know I’ve been talking to a lot of my friends and fellow fans over the past few weeks. As training camp got underway and season tickets were received in the mail, the underlying excitement has continued to grow.
I’ve already broken the jerseys out of the closet (I use the excuse that they make good sweatshirts and wear them every chance I get) and I’ve made plans for road trips throughout the season. Friends and I are already discussing who is going to what pre-season game, who will be at the home opener and where we will all meet. Fantasy hockey leagues are popping up all over the place, with everyone on Facebook and Twitter asking “who wants to join in?” I’ve never been a part of a fantasy league before, but I’m going to give it a try with our own Devils Generals League!
As busy as the summer has been, the hockey bug is biting and I can’t wait to get back to the arena. I am looking forward to seeing what our boys have in store for us this year. The end of last year showed so much promise for our upcoming season. Our rookies really stepped up to the plate filling in for our injured veterans, and it will be fun to see how much they have grown and how well they will play now that they have some experience under the belts. We have new players to welcome to the ice, like our top draft pick, Adam Larsson. We’ve hired a new coach, Peter DeBoer and we get to welcome back Bryce Salvador, who missed all of last season with a concussion. I am relieved and ecstatic to hear the news that he cleared his physical and is reported by his team mates to be in incredible physical shape. As if all of that news wasn’t fantastic enough, we also get to welcome back Zach Parise whose knee has completely healed! While I am saddened to hear Travis Zajac injured himself during training and will be missing a month or two, I am curious to see who Lou and our coaches will have fill in for him. Not at all happy news but it will give us a chance to see some more of our young, up and coming talent in action.
There are so many new additions to our Devils family, players we can finally welcome back from injury, and I will finally get to see my friends and favorite staff members again. I have a great feeling about this year!
It’s almost October, what are you most looking forward to?
What a roller coaster year this has been for us Devils fans. First with the terrible start to the season. Then an uplifting second half with high hopes to get back in the playoff race. Finding, that despite our team never giving up, those hopes are just slightly out of reach. And finally, winning the draft pick lottery, and rising in the ranks to the number 4 spot! For the first time in what seemed like an eternity, the hockey gods blessed us against the odds.
Whatever deities we pleased, apparently were still smiling upon us on June 24th. There was no doubt that the Devils Army was hoping we would snatch up Adam Larsson. The fans packed Lafayette Street along side the Prudential Center to celebrate draft day and those fans who were working checked their phones feverishly for updates. The crowd went through a similar roller coaster of emotions when the teams finally started making their picks – moments of silence followed by cheering and sighs of relief when Adam Larsson was not selected. Our turn finally came, and lo and behold the best puck moving defenseman in the draft was still up for grabs! Everyone exploded with excitement, we got Larsson!
I couldn’t have been more excited that Adam Larsson would be joining us in New Jersey! Reported to be one of the top skaters in the European leagues, and coming in at a solid 6′ 3″ and 220 lbs, he is physically ready and able to join the pros. With his puck moving and smart decision making skills, he has the potential to fill what many feel is a much needed vacancy in our defensive line-up.
I am looking forward to this season getting underway so I can check out his playing style! If he’s anything like our other Swedish players (especially our little fire cracker, Tedenby), I have a feeling I’m going to like what I see!
What was YOUR reaction to our draft day excitement?
It’s that time of year. The 2011 NHL Entry Draft is just around the corner and with the New Jersey Devils having 4th pick, it’s going to be a pretty exciting one to watch! Every year the Prudential Center hosts an NHL Draft party for the fans to come in and watch the picks live. There are games and activities for the little kids and a chance for the big kids to get their hands on some hockey equipment. Think Fan Fest, but better! You should also keep an eye out for a few Devils Alumni.
The first round of the draft starts at 7PM at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Our party starts at 5PM and will be held outside on Mulberry Street as well as inside the Amerihealth Pavilion at the Prudential Center on the night of the draft, Friday, June 24th. Head over to NewJerseyDevils.com to get your free tickets (check over on the right hand side).
See you on draft day!
In the fall, Adam Larsson was a consensus top-two pick in this year’s draft. However, a lot has changed over the course of the season. With the emergence of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, and Jonathan Huberdeau, the field has become much more crowded. Even with the draft less than two months away, there’s really no telling how the first five selections will play out. That said, if the Swedish blueliner does slip past Edmonton, Colorado, and Florida, one would have to assume that the Devils will be waiting for him at number four with open arms.
Ranked first among European skaters by Central Scouting, Larsson is the ultimate defensive package. At 6’3, 220 lbs, he is already physically built for the pros and possesses all of the tools to be a dynamic two-way defenseman in the NHL.
Larsson’s most impressive asset is his skating ability. The 18-year-old is exceptionally mobile for a player his size. His quick wheels allow him to jump in on the offensive attack and get back defensively when play heads the other way. He also sees the ice very well, has good offensive instincts, makes an excellent first pass, and has a booming shot from the point.
On the defensive side of the puck, Larsson plays like a seasoned veteran. He’s very calm and composed in his own zone, makes smart decisions, and has sound positioning and defensive awareness. Although he isn’t overly physical, he uses his large frame rather effectively and doesn’t shy away from delivering the occasional hit.
In the 2010-11 season, Larsson posted one goal, eight assists and a plus-12 rating in 37 regular season games with his hometown team, Skellefteå AIK of the Swedish Elite League. He also represented Sweden at the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championship, scoring a goal and three assists in six games.
Though his numbers aren’t spectacular, they certainly don’t do him much justice. Larsson is an elite defensive prospect the likes of which the Devils have not had since they selected Scott Niedermayer third overall in 1991. He still has a long way to go to reach his full potential, but under the tutelage of hall of famers Scott Stevens and Larry Robinson, he could develop into the number-one defenseman the Devils have been longing for since the lockout.