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ILWT Audition 2014: Youth Movement Wanted

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The ILWT Audition process continues with Writer F Road13runner, who wants to see more youth in the New Jersey Devils organization.

Writer F wants more youth in the organization, such as Eric Gelinas.
Writer F wants more youth in the organization, such as Eric Gelinas.
Bruce Bennett

At the end of April, I put out another call looking for new writers for In Lou We Trust to write about the New Jersey Devils. I've opened up the audition to the community at large in order to get some new perspectives and additional voices on the front page with regularity. Since then, I've received eighteen entries that met the submission criteria. Regardless of how they're received, I thank the writers of each and every one of them - you know who you are - for stepping up and submitting an entry.  (One more instruction for those who made submissions and received letters, by the way.  Please do not comment on your submission or any of the other audition posts.  This will help allow others to freely judge the work and show that you can handle online reactions.  No drama is the best drama.)

Throughout the this week, I will post each one under an anonymous name so you can discuss and critique the post without regard to who actually wrote it. I can ensure you that I did not change any of the content outside of formatting it in to the SBN platform.  To that end, please note that I don't necessarily agree with what the posts actually say. I'm just letting them stand on their own. Please be constructive in any criticism and do offer your thoughts about whether you liked (or disliked) the post in addition to discussing it's content. Don't be mean, but be fair.

Now, I assigned a letter to each writer based on when I received it.  However, I decided to mix up the letters in terms of order of posting.  So this process continues with the submission of Writer F Road13runner, which wants more youth in the organization.

***

Having studied the New Jersey Devils' roster and having scrutinized the players through all eighty two games of the 2013-2014 regular season, I have come to the conclusion that the 2014-2015 Devils need to get younger.  Only Travis Zajac, Jacob Josefson, Adam Henrique, Damien Brunner, Steve Bernier, Mark Fayne, and Cory Schneider are less than thirty years old.  That's fourteen players who are thirty or older, and four of them are thirty five years old or older.  In short, the Devils are ranked number one and have the distinction of being the oldest team in the league.  That is not a positive but rather a troubling statistic - a statistic that places the team in a precarious position as it gets ready to compete for a playoff spot next season.  An ideal roster should consist of both veterans and younger players, and a balance of youth and veteran leadership is preferable.  However, this Devils' roster has too many veterans and not enough younger players.  To make matters worse, when younger players did get into games this past season, they were often sent back down to Albany or scratched from games in favor of older players.  It is one thing if the older players are producing and helping the team win consistently, but Bernier, Brunner, Carter, Clowe, Gionta, Ruutu, Ryder, and Zubrus made such little impact and were very inconsistent.  Salvador is thirty eight, is injury-prone, and his play has diminished, Volchenkov is thirty two, lacks speed, and is certainly replaceable, Harrold is steady but thirty years old and taking a spot away from a more talented, faster defenseman.  Only two forwards over thirty years old are really still productive - Jagr and Elias.

After spending considerable time analyzing the Devils' roster and noting how the majority of the team's players are older, I am now going to focus on the youth movement that is necessary if the team is going to improve in the future.  Younger players like Reid Boucher, Stefan Matteau, Eric Gelinas, Adam Larsson, Jon Merrill, and Keith Kinkaid have to be given roster spots, assuming that they can contribute at the NHL level and help the team win.  I would somehow get rid of Volchenkov, Harrold, and Salvador and replace them with Gelinas, Larsson, and Merrill.  I'd resign Zidlicky since he still has play-making ability as a defenseman, can add a bit of offense, and can still be a veteran presence for young defensemen like Gelinas, Larsson, and Merrill.  Defenseman Andy Greene is still only thirty one and is in the prime of his career.  I would do everything within my power to resign unrestricted free agent defenseman Mark Fayne, who is only twenty six years old.  Other than Zidlicky, that's a very young group of defensemen.  I'd let Brodeur sign somewhere else, bring up Kinkaid, replace Ryder and Zubrus with Boucher and Matteau.

The time has come to get younger.  Peter DeBoer and/or other coaches have stunted Larsson's growth by not playing him in enough games last season.  He needs to play in all eighty two games, Gelinas has to learn from his defensive mistakes while on the job and also play in every game, and Merrill has to continue to play in every game.  I'd make Andy Greene the Devils' captain after Salvador is sent packing.  Resigning young defenseman Mark Fayne is crucial.  Kinkaid is a young goalie who can learn from another young goalie in Cory Schneider.  There are other young players in Albany who should be given a chance to make the big club come training camp.  The average age of the Stanley Cup winning teams in the last forty eight years is 27.2.  The Devils as the team is currently constituted is averaging around thirty years old for player age.  That's much higher than the 27.2 average age of the Stanley Cup winning teams.  Unless that number goes down and a youth movement becomes a priority, The New Jersey Devils will never resemble the team that won the Stanley Cup in 1995, 2000, and 2003.

***

Now that you read Writer F Road13runner's post, I want to know what you think about it.  What do you think of the subject matter? What did you think about how Writer F Road13runner wrote this post? Based on how it was written and what was it about, is this the kind of post you would want to see regularly at In Lou We Trust? Please leave your answers and other comments about this post in the comments. Thanks go to Writer F Road13runner for the submission and thank you for reading.