Tag Archives: Hobey Baker Trophy

New Jersey Devils 2017-’18 Season Preview

New Jersey Devils

28-40-14, 70 points, last in the Eastern Conference

Additions: F Brian Boyle, C Nico Hischier, F Marcus Johansson, W Drew Stafford

Subtractions: W Beau Bennett (signed with STL), F Mike Cammalleri (signed with LAK), W Patrik Elias (retired), F Jacob Josefson (signed with BUF), D Jonathon Merrill (drafted by VGK), W Devante Smith-Pelly (signed with WSH)

Offseason Analysis: Ignoring the lockout-shortened seasons of 1994-’95 and 2012-‘13, last year’s 70-point effort was the Devils’ worst campaign since 1988-’89. That ensuing draft, New Jersey selected future four-time All-Star RW Bill Guerin, who eventually contributed 11 points in the Devils’ 1995 run to the Stanley Cup – including an assist on C Neal Broten’s Cup-clinching goal.

Especially in light of recent draft standouts at the center position (think Jack EichelAuston Matthews, Connor McDavid, etc.), General Manager Ray Shero is hoping last year’s struggles that allowed him to draft Hischier with the first overall pick will yield similar results in the near future as he works to rebuild the club back to the level of success it’s experienced for most of the past three decades.

The speedy Swiss 18-year-old brings 38-48-86 totals from his time with QMJHL side Halifax last year, but he alone won’t be enough to significantly improve the third-worst offense in the league. That’s where former first-rounder Johansson and his career-high 24-34-58 totals from a season ago with the Capitals comes into play. Since both C Jesper Boqvist and W Fabian Zetterlund – the Devils’ second and third selections in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft – are expected to spend at least one more season in their native Sweden, it’ll be up to them to spearhead any attacking improvements for Head Coach John Hynes’ club alongside Taylor Hall (20-33-53) and Kyle Palmieri (26-27-53), last season’s co-leaders in points for the team.

Since the addition of 2017 Hobey Baker Award winner D Will Butcher on August 27, the situation along Jersey’s blue line could be evolving even though the Devils did little more than draft D Reilly Walsh with their second third-round pick, but it remains to be seen if Butcher will join Captain Andy Greene and co. on the senior team or if he’ll be assigned to Binghamton on AHL assignment.

Of note in this situation are the contracts, or lack thereof, of two Devils defensemen of the same mold: 26-year-old John Moore (12-10-22) and 23-year-old Damon Severson (3-28-31). Moore will be an unrestricted free agent following this season, while Severson is currently a restricted free agent. Should the Devils be unable to agree to terms with Severson – which would seem unlikely, given their almost $18 million in cap space – Butcher would be a lock to make Jersey’s 23-man roster, if not earn regular playing time. And in the predictable case Severson remains with the Devils, Butcher would almost certainly be an improvement over D Dalton Prout, who is eligible to be demoted to the AHL without hitting the waiver wire.

The same two goaltenders return from last year, and Cory Schneider – co-winner of the 2011 William M. Jennings Trophy – will be expected to return to his previous form. For his entire NHL career, Schneider has managed a .922 save percentage and 2.28 GAA, but those numbers fell to .908 and 2.82 last season. In large part, that may have been due to his defense allowing 31.4 shots to reach his crease per game (tied for ninth-worst in the NHL), but he cannot expect that to change given the Devils’ inactivity in changing personnel along the blue line. If New Jersey plans to end its rebuild now (*hint* it shouldn’t), it will have to fall on Schneider to shore up the defensive end.

Unfortunately, I don’t expect Devils fans to witness immediate progress noticeable in a final score. Instead, they should be looking for improved fundamentals from all skaters, a rebound season for Schneider and another solid entry draft to shore up the defensive corps. Rasmus Dahlin or Jared McIsaac, anyone?

Offseason Grade: B

Make no doubt about it: the Devils are in full rebuild mode and would be unwise to believe they are retooled enough to emerge from the bottom of the Eastern Conference this season. But, they have made many of the right steps in improving their forward corps with talented youths and could begin making their resurgence in a few years if they stick with #TheProcess.

TRADE: Penguins acquire Schultz from Oilers

By: Nick Lanciani

On Saturday the Edmonton Oilers sent defenseman Justin Schultz to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a third round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

Pittsburgh Penguins LogoSchultz is a 25-year-old pending RFA who has 101 points (28 goals, 73 assists) in 248 career NHL games through three-plus years with Edmonton.

He had his best season in 2013-2014 when he established career highs in goals (11) and points (33) in 74 appearances with the Oilers. The 6’2″, 193-pound blue liner had 3-7-10 totals in 45 games with Edmonton this season.

A native of Kelowna, British Columbia, Schultz was one of the NHL’s top rookies during the lockout shortened 2012-2013 season, earning a spot on the NHL All-Rookie Team after producing 8-19-27 totals after playing in all 48 games. Prior to January 2013, Schultz began his professional play with the Oiler’s American Hockey League affiliate, Oklahoma City Barons (AHL) where he went on to amass 18-30-48 totals in only 34 games with the Barons.

He won the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s best defenseman that season, despite playing in less than half of the games. Schultz was also a member of the AHL First-Team All-Star and All-Rookie Team at the end of that same season.

Schultz has represented Canada at the IIHF World Championship, recording four assists in eight games.

200px-Logo_Edmonton_Oilers.svgThe University of Wisconsin product played all four years of college eligibility (2009-2012) and was a NCAA All-American as well as a Hobey Baker Finalist in each of his last two seasons. Schultz was originally selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the second round (43rd overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, but never signed with Anaheim.

Instead, the young defenseman joined the Oilers as an unrestricted free agent following his collegiate career.

Edmonton retained 50 percent of his remaining salary in the deal.

The Oilers begin their journey without Schultz as a defenseman on Sunday night at home versus the New York Islanders while the Pittsburgh Penguins will likely be joined by Schultz in their lineup on Monday night against the Arizona Coyotes from the CONSOL Energy Center.