Oh, you thought a 48-game season would mean abbreviated punishment from Brendan Shanahan? You don’t know Shanny. It’s business as usual as far as the league’s Czar of Discipline is concerned. READ
With the 2013 season almost upon us, the Devils’ official Twitter account wanted to remind fans of last season. Needless to say, I don’t think any Devils (or Rangers fans, for that matter) need reminding, but just in case….
The Devils will look to mine offense from secondary sources this year. As we discussed yesterday, David Clarkson will be part of the equation, but the Devils will need more than that to remain in playoff contention. For this, they’ll have to look a little deeper and if you’ve been paying attention through the first few days of camp, you’ll have noticed a trend: Bobby Butler playing in key situations.
Through the first three days of camp, he’s been skating on a line with first-line center Travis Zajac and today he practiced on the first power-play unit.
“I liked what I saw in the American league,” DeBoer said of Butler. “I thought he got better as the season went on. He’s one guy that’s created offense on a regular basis and he can score. On a team that has lost some goals, he’s an intriguing guy.”
Butler, 25, led Albany with 15 goals and 23 points in 32 games after getting off to a slow start. He scored just three goals in his first 17 games before getting hot in mid-December and scoring 12 goals in his last 15 contests, including a four-goal, five-point game against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Dec. 12.
“He’s been smoking hot,” said Josefson, who was linemates with Butler at times in Albany. “It feels like if he got a shooting opportunity, he scored, so I hope he can just continue doing that. It’s been great to play with him.”
I like Butler. I liked him in Ottawa and was disappointed when he submarined last season, although it’s unlikely he’d be a Devil if he had performed up to expectations. He loves to shoot the puck, which could work well if he sticks on the third line with the pass-happy Josefson, who will eventually man the third pivot spot once Adam Henrique returns. As long as Butler keeps his confidence up and keeps putting the puck on net, he possesses a skillset that not a lot of players on the Devils have. He could easily be a sneaky 15-goal scorer with the right linemates and opportunity. I really like the idea of him on the second power-play unit, with occasional time on the first as well.
Given the way they’re deploying him thus far and given the overall look of the roster at this point, I personally expect him to at least get some sort of shot at sticking on the NHL roster. They already know he can play at the AHL level, so why not give him a 15-game audition to see what he can do on the big stage with renewed confidence.
GEICO SportsNite takes a look at the Devils and how they’re preparing for a shortened season, including Ilya Kovalchuk’s return to the team. The clip includes practice footage as well as David Clarkson talking about opportunities for others to step up in place of Zach Parise.
Everyone remembers Patrik Elias’ short-lived stint as Devils captain. It was ugly and it ended with his coach stripping the “C” from his sweater. This time around, with the Devils needing someone to replace Zach Parise, Elias, who is entering the final year of his contract, talks about that experience, who he thinks will be the captain this year and what he sees happening after his contract ends. READ
MSG Networks will carry 41 of the Devils’ 48 games this season with NBC/NBC Sports Network airing the other seven. The majority of the games can be seen on MSG-Plus, although more than a handful will air on the primary MSG network.
Once again, it’ll be Steve Cangialosi on play-by-play and color man Chico Resch returns for his 17th season in the booth. Deb Placey and Ken Daneyko will join the crew as studio host and analyst, respectively.
The full list, via Tom Gulitti of The Record, after the jump:
Pete DeBoer has made it clear the Devils won’t change their style to offset the losses of Zach Parise and Petr Sykora. But that means the Devils will need to find offense from somewhere unexpected. Last season, it was David Clarkson who stepped up with a career-high 30 goals and with the Devils needing more scoring up front, it’s fair to wonder whether Clarkson deserves a chance on the top line.
Travis Zajac, who figures to be the Devils’ top center, believes there should be no doubts about Clarkson being a first-liner.
“I don’t think so. I definitely don’t think that’s out of the question,” Zajac said. “Clarkie has gotten better every year. He’s played a bigger role every year. He had an unbelievable season last year and I think he’s just going to get better. I think he’s a guy who is going to have a big role on the team this year.”
Clarkson’s importance to last season’s Cup run can’t be understated and the fact that he did it mostly from the third line is even more impressive. He’s been skating on the third line in camp thus far, although that has more do with DeBoer and Lou Lamoriello wanting to see how much youngsters Bobby Butler and Mattias Tedenby could contribute. Complicating matters is the fact that Ilya Kovalchuk will be back in camp tomorrow and Adam Henrique will return in about two weeks. I think Clarkson deserves a shot at the top unit, especially given that his size and physical style of play would present a nice compliment to Kovy and Travis Zajac.
However, I think he’ll settle probably somewhere between the second and third lines — depending on which youngsters stick out of camp — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As we saw in the playoffs, depth scoring is what gave the Devils an edge over teams most night and Clarkson is key to that. When a team is deep enough they can get 30 goals from a third-line winger, things are structured the right way. I think Clarkson’s best fit is with whoever centers the second line — be it Henrique or Zajac — where he can contribute around 18-20 goals and about 10-12 assists, which is the 48-game equivalent of 30-32 goals and 18-20 assists.
The Devils haven’t named a captain to replace Zach Parise yet and the season is only a few days away. Defenseman Bryce Salvador is considered a heavy favorite, but Pete DeBoer on Tuesday threw an interesting name into the ring (given recent events, that is):
DeBoer said he hasn’t picked a captain yet. Said Kovalchuk is among many candidates in the Devils’ room.
While it may seem curious to mention, Kovy was an assistant captain last season and it would be stupid to completely avoid the notion that one of two assistant captains could be promoted the next season. Kovalchuk is the Devils’ best player (yes, including Marty) and it’s not even close. While that doesn’t always mean a “C,” it does carry weight. That said, DeBoer was probably just mentioning this out of respect for Kovy. I’d expect him to remain an assistant this season and for someone else to get the “C.” Kovalchuk is expected to rejoin the team Wednesday and could participate in the Devils’ scrimmage against AHL affiliate Albany. You can bet your house this will be one of many interesting questions he has to answer tomorrow.