It’s always great to answer some reader questions, especially now that we have quite a few games worth of information to go on. If you have a question, always feel free to tweet @SNYDevils.
Jonathan Harpula – @Starpula - Larsson for Yakupov? Who says no at this point?
On paper, this would be intriguing, but I think that’s as far as it goes. I can’t speak for what the Edmonton Oilers plan on doing with Nail Yakupov, but for the Devils and Adam Larsson, it’s far too soon to give up on him.
Yes, Larsson has been victimized for a few goals already this year and he’s currently out of the lineup in favor of Mark Fayne, but he’ll certainly get his chance again. The former #4 overall pick is only 20, so there is still a lot of time for development. To me, it makes no sense to give up on him so early.
If he continues to struggle and perhaps finds himself out of the lineup for an extended period of time this season, then maybe, just maybe, it’s a possibility that the team could look to move him. The only issue at that point would be that his value wouldn’t be so high.
In terms of Yakupov, it’s almost the same issue. He’s only 20, as well. The Russian-born winger has only one point through seven games this season and has struggled.
In the days of Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos and now, Seth Jones, everyone seems to want these young players to come out and be stars right away. That doesn’t always happen. When these young players come over from either Juniors or overseas, they’re not used to playing NHL style hockey, playing against men and the best in the world. There’s nothing wrong with waiting a couple of years for a guy to reach his potential.
If there is one reason why I would say that this deal won’t happen, it’s because Yakupov is Russian. Though he played junior hockey (and was a teammate of Reid Boucher) with the Sarnia Sting, there’s no doubt that the KHL could come calling with a sizable contract to lure one of their young potential stars back to Russia. Considering that the Devils already lost a player to the KHL, I think that is something that would keep them away from ever jettisoning Larsson in hopes of turning Yakupov around.
Look at it this way. You have two young players with a ton of potential who are struggling. One knows your system and the other doesn’t. To me, that’s a no-brainer and Adam Larsson will be a Devil for the foreseeable future as he continues to mature.
PetitPilot – @PetitPilot777 - from what you’ve seen this season, and what you think will happen, who gets more starts? Schneider or Brodeur?
This is a question that has been asked many times already and will continue to be asked throughout the course of the season.
As I alluded to the other day, the numbers speak for themselves at this very moment.
Both goaltenders have played four games so far, with drastically different results. Martin Brodeur has struggled at times, especially against the Senators. Schneider seems to be getting more and more comfortable in net every time he plays, with just two goals surrendered in his last two games and one of which was a garbage-time goal after an empty-netter against Winnipeg.
Schneider is getting the start tonight against Columbus and if he plays well, there’s probably a good chance he’ll play Thursday against his former team when the Canucks travel to Prudential Center.
It’s still very early and there is a lot of hockey to be played, so it’s hard to just come out and decide that Schneider should be the true number one just yet. Brodeur hasn’t been sharp, but they’re going to need him with all of the back-to-back’s that they play this season. Brodeur is going to get his starts with the hope that with more action, he’ll round into form.
If I had to make a prediction, I believe that Schneider will end up with more starts, but the number is not going to be staggering, because this team will do everything possible to get Brodeur into a groove where he’s playing good hockey. Having two goaltenders that can be counted on makes the Devils a much better team.
Also, you don’t want to rely on one goaltender so much that if one were to go down with an extended injury, that the other is forced into a string of games where he isn’t quite ready to shoulder that load.
Avid Devils Fan – @NJDMCP - Why does DeBoer play Harrold over Fayne and/or Larsson? I’m sincerely puzzled.
Peter Harrold hasn’t exactly been stellar so far in 2013-2014, so this does raise a question. He is currently third to last on the team with a minus-four rating. Part of the reason why, is that Adam Larsson is a minus-five.
The team as a whole struggled over the first seven games of the season, so it’s easy to quickly overreact and judge players on a small sample size. The Devils like what they’ve seen from Harrold in the past, or they wouldn’t have signed him to a new contract this offseason.
Harrold doesn’t exactly bring anything breathtaking to the table in terms of offensive skill or shutdown ability, but when he’s playing well, he fits the bottom-pairing role quite well. He usually doesn’t make mistakes and he has the ability to make a breakout pass.
That being said, I think the defensive starting six is somewhat of a fluid situation and will likely change many times this season. Mark Fayne came in and has played well in two games.
It’s as simple as this: If the defense is playing well, Pete DeBoer is going to keep the same six that he had in during the prior game. The defense was excellent against the Rangers, so if they turn in another strong performance against Columbus, why change it?
There is definitely a situation where Peter Harrold could be the odd man out in favor of Adam Larsson, but his play moving forward will dictate that.
Squiggs – @IamtheSquiggs – Why is Marek Zidlicky so bad?
Normally I wouldn’t include such a question as this one that is so scathing towards a player, but in this case, a little education is needed.
As of the afternoon of 10/22 how many NHL defensemen have more assists than Marek Zidlicky?
The answer is one and it’s P.K. Subban, who has exactly one more assist (eight) than Zidlicky (seven).
Yes, there are times when Zidlicky will pinch and get caught out of position, I get that. As a whole, the Czech-born defenseman is far and away the most offensively skilled blueliner on this team.
“Zid’s good, when Zids keeps it simple and plays within himself, he’s very effective for us. It’s just walking that line where he’s offensive without being reckless. He’s a smart guy, he’s a veteran guy, he comes back to the bench and he recognizes when he pushes it a little too far, it’s nice to have a guy like that,” said DeBoer of Zidlicky after Saturday’s game against the Rangers.
Is he going to make some bad choices and get caught out of position? It’ll most likely happen a time or two, but what Zidlicky brings to the table is a passing ability that no other defenseman on this roster has. Considering the start he’s had, calling him bad is a huge falsity at this point.
Tim – @Hockey459 – Is PDB here to stay?
My answer to this one is simple. Lou Lamoriello has expressed confidence in this group. Also, let’s let the season play out. Who knows, in two weeks, if this team has won five of six, this question might be silly to even ask. We’re only eight games in, no need to speculate at this point.
Andrew Sciametta - At what point do we give Gelinas a shot instead of Harrold and Fayne?
This might be a money issue more than anything else. Eric Gelinas certainly looked good enough to warrant a roster spot out of camp, but was sent down to Albany instead. Through five games with the A-Devils, the young blueliner has a goal, two assists and a team-leading 20 shots on goal. He has a cannon of a shot and that in itself could help this club.
The real issue would be making room for him to be called up. With the glut of forwards on this team, there’s no room for eight defenseman (unless, of course, someone gets hurt). Also, if the team wanted to bring Gelinas up, they’d have to likely send someone like Harrold of Fayne through waivers. Sending either of them down would mean that they could lose them completely, or have to pay an NHL salary for either of them to play in the AHL, because both are on one-way contracts. Lamoriello has stated that paying an NHL contract in Albany was not in the Devils plans.
I happen to like Gelinas a lot. He’s still a bit raw defensively in some respects, but his offensive game has a ton of upside. I do think he’ll find his way back to New Jersey, but it’ll most likely be due to an injury to one of the defensemen who are currently on the roster.