WARNING: If you are not a Yankee's fan and/or are tired of hearing about Derek Jeter then please skip to the the "Nominees" section.
As I write this, I am still in awe of watching Derek Jeter's last game at Yankee Stadium. To paraphrase Mike Greenberg: In a time when it has become increasingly difficult to find a sports figure without a black mark on his record, Jeter was the guy. Jeter was Superman, except he was from Pequannok and was a normal kid with a dream of being a Yankee. He embodied "captain." As I thought about how this related to the Devils, I immediately remembered that our current captain is in the final year of his contract and considering there were suggestions of buying him out (including from ILWT), it seems unlikely he re-signs. Even if he does, at 38 he can't have much left.
Just like our rivals page on SBNation did, I decided to look into possible new Devils captains.
1. Andy Greene
This seems to be the most logical next step. In the Lamoriello Era, 4 of the 7 captains have been defensemen and the team has been historically built on strong defense. Outside of that, Andy already has an "A," and as I mentioned in my Advanced Stats articles, Andy had a really good year last year. Like better than you realize. Furthermore, the D-corps is undergoing an obvious youth movement, and they will need a mentor to overlook their development. Zidlicky and Salvador could both be gone as soon as this year and it's unrealistic to expect all of the young defenders to be done learning by then. Greene's locked up for 5 years and can capably preside over this transition while playing on a top pairing.
2. Travis Zajac
Behind Elias, Zajac is the most tenured Devil on the team. He is our top line center and posts elite possession statistics. He too is locked up long term and he could be the strong forward presence that a team otherwise loaded on defense could need moving forward. Zajac is exactly the kind of bulldog center that can lead the Devils in the direction of defensively responsible, possession-driven forwards. When you are logging a full minute more than any other forward, and a full 2 minutes more than any forward not named Jagr on the team, being responsible and positive in possession is of chief importance.
3. Jaromir Jagr
He has already been a captain twice. He is clearly not the long-term captain, but he was also by almost any metric, the best player on the Devils last season. Also, some of the advanced statistics imply that he was even better than we give him credit for (the link is the same as the 1st one in Greene's section). He would be a transitional captain, but could pave the way for one of the younger guys with a few more question marks to me ready. Which brings me too ...
4. Adam Henrique
I recently wrote a love letter to Adam Henrique here on ILWT. Adam Henrique is a monumentally underrated defensive player. He was top 30 in DGVT and as I mention in the Catch-All Statistics 4 part series, Henrique is was our best forward not named Jagr. According to HockeyAnalysis, when shorthanded, Henrique was top 15 in GF20, top 15 in GA20, and #3 in the NHL in GF%. For a guy who lead the Devils in goals and who has the Jeterian knack for the moment, he would be a great face for the future of the Devils.
5. Your suggestions
I think these guys are a clear top 4, but I'm open to other suggestions. Did I miss someone? Did I include someone I shouldn't have? Do you think the next captain is not on the roster right now? Could we go a little while without a captain? Leave your thoughts in the comments. See you guys soon.
The NHL isn't like other sports. As evidenced by our current captain, the "C" doesn't always just go to the best player or the most famous player. Bleacher Reoprt had an article on if the NHL is held to a higher character standard. It might be. We crush the other 3 major sports in arrest and, getting back on topic, captains refer to a team instead of themselves (**cough cough Lebron cough cough**). Being a captain is not something to be taken lightly in this sport and if it is someone that you don't like or think they don't perform well, just remember it could be worse.