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A Patchwork Squad?

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The New Jersey Devils have been criticized this season for being a patchwork squad that has been strewn together by Lou Lamoriello because of poor drafting and the lack of high draft picks. But just how patchwork is this team? Let's take a look.

He's a homegrown Devil
He's a homegrown Devil
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

One of the knocks against this most recent incarnation of the New Jersey Devils is that the team is devoid of much homegrown talent.  Most people who criticize Lou Lamoriello for putting this team together tend to cite that when this team was great, Lou had drafted real well and kept that talent in East Rutherford.  Now, however, after a decade of poor drafting, the Devils seem to have become a team full of free agents patched together to hopefully form a competitive team.  Sadly, this year the team would be far from competitive most of the time.

What I wanted to do with this article was see just how much of this team is indeed homegrown or not, and compare that to other years, especially when the Devils were at their pinnacle.  How different was it then as opposed to now?  Also, I will compare how homegrown the Devils are versus another successful team this year and see what the difference is there.

The Devils Now

In the following chart, I will list the Devils' roster.  Next to each player, I will list the team that drafted that player.  If that player was drafted by New Jersey, I will then list when that was so it can be seen how long that player has been in the organization.  If that player was not drafted by New Jersey, however, then I will list when that player was signed by the team.  Information on team rosters will come from Hockey DB, while information on individual players will come from Hockey Reference as well as Hockey DB.  Only players who are with the team at least fairly regularly will be listed.

Player:

Drafted By:

With Devils Organization Since:

Keith Kinkaid

Undrafted (NJ)

2011-2012

Marek Zidlicky

New York Rangers

2011-2012

Adam Larsson

New Jersey Devils

2011-2012

Andy Greene

Undrafted (NJ)

2006-2007

Jon Merrill

New Jersey Devils

2010-2011

Dainius Zubrus

Philadelphia Flyers

2007-2008

Martin Havlat

Ottawa Senators

2014-2015

Peter Harrold

Undrafted (LA)

2011-2012

Stephen Gionta

Undrafted (NJ)

2006-2007 (2010-2011)

Adam Henrique

New Jersey Devils

2008-2009

Tuomo Ruutu

Chicago Blackhawks

2013-2014

Jacob Josefson

New Jersey Devils

2009-2010

Michael Ryder

Montreal Canadiens

2013-2014

Steve Bernier

San Jose Sharks

2011-2012

Travis Zajac

New Jersey Devils

2004-2005

Jordin Tootoo

Nashville Predators

2014-2015

Scott Gomez

New Jersey Devils

1998-2004, 2014-2015

Eric Gelinas

New Jersey Devils

2009-2010

Mike Cammalleri

Los Angeles Kings

2014-2015

Bryce Salvador

Tampa Bay Lightning

2007-2008

Patrik Elias

New Jersey Devils

1994-1995

Damon Severson

New Jersey Devils

2012-2013

Ryane Clowe

San Jose Sharks

2013-2014

Cory Schneider

Vancouver Canucks

2013-2014

Jaromir Jagr

Pittsburgh Penguins

2013-2014

There are of course some names I left off, like Seth Helgeson, Tim Sestito, Mark Fraser, Joe Whitney and others.  Apart from Fraser the others spend a lot of time in Albany so I chose not to include them for that reason, and Fraser has only played a handful of games with the big club this season, so it is still unclear as to how long he will stay up.

Interestingly enough, a decent amount of this roster was brought up by the Devils.  Many of those homegrown Devils are the young defensemen that the team has been using high draft picks on year after year.  They are finally paying off with some ice time in New Jersey.  There are also some forwards as well, with the likes of Travis Zajac, Adam Henrique and Patrik Elias.  And while the Devils have not drafted particularly great over the last decade, they have signed the likes of Keith Kinkaid, Andy Greene, and Stephen Gionta to contracts even though they were not drafted.  This especially paid off in the way of Greene, and may as well with Kinkaid.

Also, there are others that have not been lifelong Devils but have still been with the organization for a decent stretch of time, such as Dainius Zubrus and Bryce Salvador.  While I will not include them as ‘homegrown Devils,' one could argue that since they have been Devils for such a long time, they could be a part of that list.

In total, of the 25 players on this list, 12 are homegrown Devils, for a 48% rate.  If you remove Gomez from that list considering he left the team and came back, we are now at a 44% rate.

The Devils of Old

To compare to a more successful team of the Devils' past, I decided to look at the roster of the 2003 Stanley Cup team.  That team was as successful as it comes, winning the whole thing.  It also was 16 years after Lou Lamoriello had become GM, so it was more than enough time for his picks and decisions to come to full fruition.  The following chart will work the same way as the previous one.

Player:

Drafted By:

With Devils Organization Since:

Ken Daneyko

New Jersey Devils

1982-1983

Scott Stevens

Washington Capitals

1991-1992

Colin White

New Jersey Devils

1996-1997

Tommy Albelin

Quebec Nordiques

1988-1996, 2001-2002

Oleg Tverdovsky

Anaheim Ducks

2002-2003

John Madden

Undrafted (NJ)

1997-1998

Jeff Friesen

San Jose Sharks

2002-2003

Brian Gionta

New Jersey Devils

1998-1999

Jamie Langenbrunner

Dallas Stars

2001-2002

Mike Rupp

New Jersey Devils

2000-2001

Sergei Brylin

New Jersey Devils

1992-1993

Jim McKenzie

Hartford Whalers

2000-2001

Jay Pandolfo

New Jersey Devils

1993-1994

Pascal Rheaume

Undrafted (NJ)

1993-1997, 2002-2003

Scott Gomez

New Jersey Devils

1998-1999

Turner Stevenson

Montreal Canadiens

2000-2001

Joe Nieuwendyk

Calgary Flames

2001-2002

Patrik Elias

New Jersey Devils

1994-1995

Scott Niedermayer

New Jersey Devils

1991-1992

Brian Rafalski

Undrafted (NJ)

1999-2000

Grant Marshall

Toronto Maple Leafs

2002-2003

Martin Brodeur

New Jersey Devils

1990-1991

So it is also evident that the last cup team was not without its rentals or acquisitions from other teams.  Some of the big names would be Scott Stevens, Jamie Langenbrunner, and Joe Nieuwendyk among others.  Of course, just like I mentioned above that Zubrus and Salvador have been with the team for a while and so you could consider removing the rental title, you could obviously do the same for Stevens at this point, and you would be able to do the same for Langenbrunner later on.  But for the purposes of keeping this strictly defined, we cannot add Stevens to the list of homegrown Devils.

The difference with this team, of course, is that those homegrown Devils really hit big.  The list of names here that were drafted by the Devils and remained on the team and thrived in the red and black is evident, and it is the reason this version won the cup.  Guys like Daneyko, White, Brylin, Pandolfo, Neidermayer...the list goes on.  Looking at this list makes you realize just how successful Lou was in drafting players in the 1990s, especially when compared to how he has drafted in the 21st Century.

In total, of the 22 players I listed, 13 were homegrown Devils, for a 59% rate.  If you remove Pascal Rheaume for the same reasons I removed Gomez earlier, you now are at a 54.5% rate.

Compared to a Successful Team This Year

Since it is tough to compare teams from different eras, I thought it would also be prudent to compare the Devils roster this season versus another team this year that has been playing well.  In order to avoid as much bias as possible, I have decided to use the team that has the most points in the NHL.  Prior to the Thursday night games, that team would be the Anaheim Ducks with 70 points.

Player:

Drafted By:

With Ducks Organization Since:

Clay Stoner

Minnesota Wild

2014-2015

Cam Fowler

Anaheim Ducks

2010-2011

Ben Lovejoy

Undrafted (Pit)

2012-2013

Andrew Cogliano

Edmonton Oilers

2012-2013

Corey Perry

Anaheim Ducks

2003-2004

Devante Smith-Pelly

Anaheim Ducks

2010-2011

Rene Bourque

Undrafted (Chi)

2014-2015

Ryan Getzlaf

Anaheim Ducks

2003-2004

Emerson Etem

Anaheim Ducks

2010-2011

Ryan Kesler

Vancouver Canucks

2014-2015

Tim Jackman

Columbus Blue Jackets

2013-2014

Patrick Maroon

Philadelphia Flyers

2012-2013

Kyle Palmieri

Anaheim Ducks

2009-2010

Francois Beauchemin

Montreal Canadiens

2006-2009, 2010-2011

Frederik Andersen

Anaheim Ducks

2012-2013

Jakob Silfverberg

Ottawa Senators

2013-2014

Matt Beleskey

Anaheim Ducks

2006-2007

Nate Thompson

Boston Bruins

2014-2015

Sami Vatanen

Anaheim Ducks

2009-2010

Hampus Lindholm

Anaheim Ducks

2012-2013

Rickard Rakell

Anaheim Ducks

2011-2012

John Gibson

Anaheim Ducks

2011-2012

Ilya Bryzgalov

Anaheim Ducks

2000-2008, 2014-2015

When compiling the chart for the Ducks, there were two things that jumped out at me.  First, they have legitimate homegrown stars in Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.  They were drafted together, are both great, and decided to both stay together and stay in Anaheim.  That would have been akin to one Zach Parise staying in New Jersey...except he didn't.

Second, what also jumped out at me is that they have found some quality role players and potentially rising stars through the draft over the last five or so seasons that have really solidified their squad.  Players like Sami Vatanen, Matt Beleskey, Cam Fowler and more produce points on the scoreboard and really play well into the system that Anaheim uses.

They have also gone to the free agent well, but have found some gems in the likes of Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg that have taken their team to the next level.

In total, of the 23 players I listed, 13 are homegrown Ducks, for a 56.5% rate.  If you remove Ilya Bryzgalov from that list for obvious reasons, that drops to a 52% rate.

Conclusion

In the end, the Devils do have somewhat less homegrown talent on their team this season as compared to the other two teams listed, but it is not extraordinarily less.  In fact, I listed 12 homegrown Devils as compared to 13 old Devils and 13 Ducks.  That is only one less.  The reason that the percentage is so much lower is because I listed more current Devils than I did for either of the other squads.  This is because between injury call-ups and signings, and as a bad team, the Devils have tried to use more and different players to create a spark.

So while the Devils do not have considerably less homegrown talent than the other listed teams, I think the main difference has to be the level of talent that the homegrown players bring to the table (of course this would also apply to free agent signings).  The players that have always been Devils are mostly young defensemen who are still getting their legs under them in the National Hockey League.  Players like Severson, Larsson, Gelinas and others are not yet solidified NHL-caliber players.  Some are getting there hopefully soon like Larsson and Severson, but nonetheless they do not compare to the likes of Perry and Getzlaf, or even Niedermeyer and Brodeur from the 2003 squad.  This has to be taken into consideration.

Also, as I briefly mentioned there, the level of talent from outside also has to matter.  The 2003 Devils had excellent talent taken from other teams, like Stevens and Langenbrunner.  The Ducks have that now as well with Kesler and Silfverberg.  The modern Devils have some quality talent in the likes of Cammalleri and Jagr, and Cammalleri may yet become a staple of the Devils' future over the next five seasons, but as of now they cannot compare to the other names mentioned.

So what I am trying to say is that the data shows that this current Devils' squad is simply not a patchwork of random veterans.  There are a decent amount of players that have come through the Devils' system.  The difference, however, is in the talent level of those players.

Your Thoughts

What are your thoughts on this? Does this data make you see this team any differently?  Or did you already have a beat on this?  What information did I miss or did I not analyze correctly that you would like to add?  Please leave your comments in the section below, and thanks for reading.