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.
While 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, Andy Greene.
Greene arguably goes down as the Devils’ most underrated skater of all-time, but 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, which is the seventh most in team history. No. 6 displayed that he’s been 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.
Like current teammate Travis Zajac, Greene could go down as one of the best Devils of all-time to play his entire career with New Jersey. Keep in mind that the Trent, Michigan native was named the Devils’ 11th captain in team history back in 2015-16.
The 37-year-old is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but one would imagine Greene would retire and go down as one of the best Devils that never collected a Stanley Cup 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 2003 17th-overall selection 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 are ranked 10th all-time in team history, while his 194 goals sit fourth on the all-time goals list. The three skaters ranked above Parise for goals in Bobby Holik, John MacLean and Patrik Elias all won Cups.
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 its 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.
While forward Travis Zajac’s contract with New Jersey doesn’t expire until the end of the 2021-22 season, No. 19 is one of the best Devils that’s never won a Stanley Cup. The 2004 first-round draft pick’s numbers with Jersey’s team speak for themselves.
Once Zajac’s tenure on the ice officially ends with New Jersey, the Winnipeg, Manitoba native will find himself ranked in the top five in seven of the team’s all-time leader boards. He cracks the top five in Devils’ history for games played, goals, assists, points, power-play goals, shorthanded goals, and even-strength goals.
The center is on the verge of joining an exclusive Devils group if he finishes his current contract with the team and then officially retires. Zajac would then go down as one of the few New Jersey greats to play his entire career with the Devils, which would mark his name in the same conversation with Ken Daneyko and Patrik Elias – both whose numbers are retired by the organization and won multiple Cups.
It’s also incredible how the two-way, responsible forward has lasted this long 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. Still, five seasons later, Zajac remains a Devil and skates with a first-class attitude.
Kyle McKenna is a social media specialist & freelancer who also covers the NHL for Elite Sports New York, Fansided & Hooked On Hockey Magazine.