Making predictions can be a fools errand. So much can happen in a grueling grind that is the 82 game NHL regular season. Nevertheless, predictions are fun to make and since I’m usually right about this kind of stuff, let’s have at it. Here’s what one can expect with regards to the New Jersey Devils in 2014-15.
1.) Cory Schneider plays at least 70 games:
Unquestionably, he is the man now. New mask, big contract, heightened expectations. For the Devils to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs, he pretty much has to. Yes the team has added more production up front but it will be contingent upon Schneider, whose career high for games played, 45, came last season, to get the Devils’ the extra five points they needed to qualify for the postseason last year.
2.) Seth Helgeson breaks into the top six on the blue line:
With no more A-Train, the Devils need a Rock of Gibraltar on defence and that is Seth Helgeson. The depth chart numbers may be stacked against him in camp but just like Jon Merrill and Eric Gelinas last season, he’ll be there in the end. Helgeson gives the Devils size, toughness, and a lock down defenceman. Think in the mold of a Willie Mitchell, Cale Hulse, Colin White type. Teamed mostly with Corbin McPherson last season in Albany, Helgeson truly measured up to that plus 12 rating.
— Albany Devils (@AlbanyDevils) July 16, 2014
3.) Scott Gomez makes the roster:
Stranger things have happened, both before and after noon but Scott Gomez knows how to play Devils hockey and the Devils know him. We saw the “A-line” reunited a few years back with Petr Sykora making the club out of camp, so two-thirds of the “EGG-line” could be restored this season. Besides, Pete DeBoer has a soft spot for those scrappy former Florida Panthers players.
4.) Eric Gelinas doesn’t get traded:
It’s a matter of trust. At least that’s the narrative coming into camp with Gelinas and a few other young Devils blue liners. Honestly, though, you have to give these guys time to develop, especially on defence. Does Gelinas turn into the next Chris Pronger, Sheldon Souray, Brent Burns? Who knows. Having watched his game evolve from when he started in Albany, I believe he’ll figure it out, tighten up his game defensively, cut down on turnovers and work on his positioning. Unless another youngster like Damon Severson makes a push and earns a spot, I can’t see New Jersey shipping out Gelinas or Adam Larsson for that matter.
5.) Adam Henrique scores 40 goals:
Taking it to the next level. That’s where the trajectory is pointing for one Adam Henrique. This will mark the fourth season and third full season for Henrique. Looking at a few other homegrown Devils of recent vintage would suggest that Henrique is due for a breakout season, after posting 25 goals last year. In his fourth full season, Patrik Elias hit 40 goals on the button. Zach Parise netted 45 in his fourth full campaign. Brian Gionta’s fourth full season saw him notch 48 tallies. It would be quite the boost and relief for the Devils’ offense if Henrique follows in this pattern.