After being spoiled for over a decade, the New Jersey Devils and their fanbase haven’t experienced winning a Stanley Cup championship since 2003. New Jersey earned its third Cup in less than 10 years during 2002-03, and it seemed that the Devils were on top of the hockey universe and on pace to collect at least one more ring before an all-time great such as defenseman Scott Stevens retired.
While that hasn’t been the case since that memorable June in Jersey, that doesn’t mean the Devils haven’t had a number of top-tier caliber skaters on their roster over the last decade and counting. Let’s look back at the three best Devils that never won a Stanley Cup.
Though skaters such as Aaron Broten, Patrik Sundstrom, Kirk Muller, Pat Verbeek or Ilya Kovalchuk arguably earn a spot on this list, there’s one skater who’s donned a Devils sweater for over a decade that deserved the nod. And that is Andy Greene.
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Greene arguably goes down as one of the Devils’ most underrated skaters of all time, but he also carries the weight of being named one of the best New Jersey players to never win a Stanley Cup.
The undrafted blueliner skated in his 900th career game with the Devils in December 2019, the seventh most in team history. No. 6 displayed that he was the backbone for the Devils’ defensive core since joining the squad back in 2006-07 while portraying his humble leadership qualities and high hockey IQ with or away from the puck.
Greene came close to winning a Stanley Cup with the Devils when they made the Final in 2012 but lost to Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings in six games. After then, the Devils went through some dark years, making the playoffs only once in the next seven-plus seasons he spent in New Jersey; that was in 2017-18. The Devils would trade Greene to the New York Islanders during the 2019-20 campaign. He spent the next two and a half seasons with the Islanders before retiring during the 2022 offseason without a ring.
While forward Zach Parise left the Devils via unrestricted free agency for the Minnesota Wild after the 2011-12 campaign, there were no hard feelings from the fans towards one of New Jersey’s best players of all time.
The 17th overall selection in the 2003 draft captured Devils fans’ hearts with his grit, clutch goal-scoring and passion on the ice to help New Jersey succeed on a nightly basis. After spending seven seasons in a Devils sweater, No. 9 recorded 410 points (194 goals, 216 assists) in 502 regular-season games. Parise’s 410 career points with New Jersey rank 10th all-time in team history, while his 194 tallies sit fifth on the all-time goals list. The three of the four skaters ranked above Parise for goals — Bobby Holik, John MacLean and Patrik Elias — all won Cups.
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In addition to Parise’s five 30-goal seasons, the Minneapolis, Minnesota native recorded 45 goals in 2008-09, which tied John MacLean for the third-most goals scored in a single season by a Devil.
Parise earned the honor of team captain for the 2011-12 campaign and helped the Devils reach their fifth Stanley Cup Final appearance later that spring. Devils fans always envisioned him hoisting a Cup high above his head in a red and black sweater. Unfortunately, that sight won’t ever happen.
Like Greene, Travis Zajac is one of the best Devils to have never won a Stanley Cup, and his timeline nearly matches up identically with Greene’s. The 2004 first-round draft pick’s numbers with Jersey’s team speak for themselves. He cracked the top five in Devils’ history for games played, goals, assists, points, power-play goals, shorthanded goals, and even-strength goals.
Like Greene, the closest Zajac came to winning a Cup with the Devils was in 2012 against the Kings. And like Greene again, the Devils would trade Zajac to the Islanders at the 2021 trade deadline to give him one last shot at a playoff run. The Islanders were one of the final four teams remaining that year but ultimately came up short of a Final appearance.
After that run, Zajac announced his retirement after 15 NHL seasons. He finished with 202 goals in his time with the Devils, placing him just ahead of Parise. Though the team didn’t see much success after the 2012 run, Zajac ended up going down as one of the great Devils to have never won a Cup. And despite playing for the Islanders briefly at the end of the 2020-21 campaign, he essentially spent his entire career in red and black.
It’s incredible how the two-way, responsible forward lasted as long as he did with the Devils. After long-time general manager Lou Lamoriello left New Jersey, one could have imagined that the then newly-appointed GM in Ray Shero was most likely going to move on and trade Lamoriello’s former notable skaters such as Zajac. The same could be said of Greene, but Shero and now-GM Tom Fitzgerald held on to both players for as long as they could.
Meanwhile, Parise is still playing at a decent level. The 39-year-old just had 21 goals for the Islanders (anyone see the Lamoriello — the Islanders’ GM — connection yet?) and could return for one more year in 2023-24. Perhaps he gets a chance at a Cup then, but if not, it would mark the end of an era for the Devils with Greene, Zajac and Parise having retired without claiming rings.