As the NHL prepares to send its stars to the Olympics in 2014, I thought it would be worthwhile and interesting to put together a list of the best U.S. born players in New Jersey Devils history. Presently the Devils have six American-born players on their NHL roster (Ryan Carter, Mark Fayne, Stephen Gionta, Andy Greene, Peter Harrold and Cory Schneider) and a few guys on the farm, including Tim Sestito, Keith Kinkaid and potentially Cam Janssen, Dan Kelly, Jeff Frazee and Jay Leach.
Much of that stems from having possibly the best U.S. born General Manager, in Lou Lamoriello. The team has also employed some very notable U.S. coaches, headlined by Herb Brooks and augmented by the likes of Robbie Ftorek, John Cunniff and even Lamoriello himself.
When it comes to piecing together an all-American Devils squad, here’s my take, in all of its patriotic glory:
Brian Rolston – C: Had seven double-digit goal seasons with the Devils and was a member of the 1995 Stanley Cup winning squad. Played on three U.S. Olympic teams (1994, 2002, 2006) garnering ten goals and 14 points in 20 games.
Neal Broten – C: Scored for game winning goals in the playoffs during the Devils first Stanley Cup run in 1995. Scored two goals and added one assist for the “Miracle On Ice” U.S. Olympic squad in 1980.
Jim Dowd – C: The Brick, New Jersey native scored the game winning goal in Game Two of the 1995 Stanley Cup Final against the Detroit Red Wings. Scored the first goal in Albany River Rats franchise history in 1993.
Zach Parise – LW: A five-time 30-goal scorer and one-time 40-goal scorer with the Devils, Parise captained New Jersey to the 2011-12 Stanley Cup Final. Parise played on the 2010 U.S. Olympic team, tallying four goals and four assists in six contests.
Tom Chorske – LW: Netted 57 goals across four seasons in New Jersey. A member of the 1995 Stanley Cup championship team.
Aaron Broten – LW: In eight seasons with the Devils, Broten potted 147 markers.
Jay Pandolfo – LW: Solid defensive forward and penalty killer, also scored 99 goals (including seven short-handed) for the Devils. A member of the 1999-00 and 2002-03 Stanley Cup championship teams.
Brian Gionta – RW: Totaled six double-digit goal seasons for New Jersey, including a 48-goal campaign in 2005-06. A member of the 2002-03 Stanley Cup champion Devils. Scored four goals in six games for the 2006 U.S. Olympic team.
Bill Guerin – RW: Posted five double-digit goal season for the Devils. A member of the 1995 Stanley Cup winning squad. Played for the U.S. Olympic team in 1998, 2002 and 2006, scoring five goals in 16 contests.
Jamie Langenbrunner – RW: Former Devils captain, posted seven double-digit goal campaigns in New Jersey. A member of the 2002-03 Stanley Cup championship team. Played for the U.S. Olympic team in 1998 and 2010, notching one goal in nine games.
Doug Brown – RW: Had five seasons of double-digit goals for New Jersey.
Brian Rafalski – D: A two-time All-Star (2004 and 2007) and two-time Stanley Cup champion (1999-00 and 2002-03) with the Devils. A member of the 2002, 2006 and 2010 U.S. Olympic squads, posting 13 points in 17 games.
Paul Martin – D: Registered a +/- rating of + 55, in six seasons with the Devils.
Mark Fayne – D: A solid, self-sacrificing defenceman. Has also recorded nine goals in three years with New Jersey.
Andy Greene – D: Now an alternate captain, Greene has 20 goals and 97 assists in seven seasons with the Devils. Greene’s + 12 rating paced New Jersey in 2013.
Tom Kurvers – D: Registered 15 goals and 50 assists in 1988-89 season for the Devils. Wound up being traded to Toronto for the pick that eventually netted the Devils Scott Niedermayer.
Phil Housley – D: Recorded 16 points in 22 games for New Jersey in 1995-96. Played for the 2002 U.S. Olympic team, posting five points in six games.
Cory Schneider – G: Future franchise goalie for New Jersey, has a career record of 55-26-8, with a goals against average of 2.20.
Chris Terreri – G: Posted 118 victories and seven shutouts with the Devils. A member of two (1994-95 and 1999-00) Stanley Cup championship teams in New Jersey.
Scott Clemmensen – G: In 2008-09, saved the Devils’ season, posting 25 wins in 40 games.
As for the line combinations, a top line of Gomez, Gionta and Parise, reunites two-thirds of the old “EGG line.” On the second line, you have Rolston, Guerin and Chorske, all teammates on the 1995 Cup winning team. On the third line it’s both Broten brothers and Langenbrunner, all former members of the Stars as well. Finally on the fourth line, a rugged and gritty line of Dowd, Pandolfo and Brown.
Back on the blue line, there’s the puck moving skill and speed of Rafalski and Martin. Then you have current teammates and defensive pairing of Fayne and Greene. More offense again on the third unit with Housley and Kurvers.
In net I went with the franchise future in Schneider and a franchise leader in Terreri. Plus, Clemmensen had a larger body of work with the Devils, over such U.S. Olympians like Mike Dunham and John Vanbiesbrouck.