Half full. Half empty. It’s all a matter of perspective. In 2014-15, the New Jersey Devils had their share of positives and negatives. Taking a snapshot, let’s look at what went right and wrong in the Garden State.
- Cory Schneider – In true Devils fashion, starting from the net out. Playing behind a young defence unit, Schneider saw more rubber than a Michelin plant. Schneider was fourth in games played, third in saves, fifth in save percentage, ninth in goals against average, eighth in shutouts and fifth in minutes. Not too shabby.
- Scott Gomez – A new number and a new lease on life in Newark. Gomez waited and skated around for two months and joined the Devils in December. Outside of Adam Henrique, Gomez was the most productive center for New Jersey. In fact, despite playing in 17 fewer games, Gomez had as many helpers as Henrique, dishing out 27. Gomez played in eleven less games than Patrik Elias and tied him with 34 points. Plus, Gomez and his 34 points were nine more than Travis Zajac, in 16 less contests. Gomer still has the knack of a play-maker and could really help a potential finisher next season.
- Steve Bernier – Yet another Devils player who did not begin the season with a club. After helping AHL Albany start with a bang in October, Bernier finished with a flourish. Across 67 contests, Bernier netted a career high 16 goals and 32 points. The former CBGB line member, played up this season and took full advantage.
- Jordin Tootoo – Notice the trend here, a guy signed off the scrap heap, Tootoo gave the Devils some jump this season. Stepping up for his teammates, especially following the coaching change, Tootoo didn’t back down from anyone. Along with his 72 penalty minutes, Tootoo recorded ten goals.
- Adam Larsson/Scott Stevens – Out of chateau bow wow and onto the top defence pairing with Andy Greene. Upon the hiring of Stevens, Larsson regained his confidence and established his assertiveness on the ice. No longer a healthy scratch, Larsson registered a team best 24 points by a defenceman. Stevens let him know he could hit and be aggressive and Larsson heeded his advice.
- Boring scoring – New Jersey tallied only 181 markers, fourth worst in the league. Adam Henrique led the team with 43 points and Mike Cammalleri topped the squad with 27 goals. This must change going forward.
- Michael Ryder/Martin Havlat – One bad signing follows another. Each was pretty one-dimensional and if they weren’t doing the one dimension (putting the biscuit in the basket) they didn’t do much. Both were essentially healthy scratches after the trade deadline and combined to total eleven goals or the same amount as the next guy on this list.
- Travis Zajac – I like Zajac, I really do. He’s a heady player, solid on the draw and could really still make for a prime setup man when paired with a true sniper. However, with his extravagant contract, he has to do better than having only one more point than Larsson and less than two aforementioned players whom weren’t a factor on this club until after Thanksgiving.
- Dainius Zubrus – A year ago, Zubrus and the above mentioned Zajac, were on the top line with Jaromir Jagr. Zubrus has long been a tough grinder with the Devils and elsewhere. That said, it’s becoming difficult to figure out what his role is on the team anymore. His four goals were the lowest in a full season since netting six in 1998-99.
- Ryane Clowe/Bryce Salvador – You feel bad placing injured players in this category, however neither was a factor after Halloween. Say what you will of the David Clarkson contract, Clowe’s pact is crippling because he cannot stay on the ice. Meanwhile, Sal earned a nice deal after a great run in the 2011-12 Stanley Cup Playoffs but along with injuries, he was having a rough go of it on the Devils penalty kill, early this season.