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Are You Losing Optimism on the Devils Future?

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The Devils seem to have regressed even from last year. Is that an expectation of growing pains, or a sign of failure?

Nashville Predators v New Jersey Devils Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It is very difficult to make an argument that hte Devils are better this year than last year. The stat people can view the chart below:

So clearly this is more than Cory just having a rough year, although that’s not helping.

If you analyze CHIP (Cap Hit from Injured Players), then you’ll see that this is not due to injuries either because we’ve actually been one of the healthier teams.

Therefore, this must be genuine regression, or — at least — lack of progression.

Whether or not this achievement level should cause pessimism for the franchise’s future is up to whether or not we consider this expected. So let’s look at a few things.

Current Roster Age

We should first look to our current roster which went from an average age of 30.27 — the oldest in the NHL by almost 2 years — to an average age of 27.77 which is still 8th oldest but significantly improved. Out of curiosity, I also looked into age per point stats. For this stat, each player gets an AgePts stat which is Pts*Age. If you average all of them for a team, and divide by total points, you get average age per point. I did this for the top 4 players on each team , and the top 7(ish) players per team. The “ish” is because some teams had very low-scoring 7th players and I wasn’t going hunting for them. The logic behind 4 and 7 is that that is where the most significant relative drops in point totals are — in other words, there is a significant drop off after the 4th and 7th players on each team.

The results were that the Devils, who are the 8th oldest team, had the 11th highest age per point among the top 7 scorers, and the 14th highest age per point of their top 4 scorers. This means that when it comes to the contribution to the team’s point total, the Devils are around league average age. If you would like to see the calculations, you can download my excel sheet for this article here.

Prospects?

So that’s an explanation for where we are at right now. What about the prospect pipeline. Well according to ABC, out ranking has gone from 26th to 19th in the NHL due to our recent drafts. Keep up with Brian’s articles to see how our system is doing. Other than Zacha massively underwhelming production-wise this year, I see plenty of reason for optimism relative to recent years.

What about Cap Hit?

According to Spotrac, the Devils have the 5th lowest cap hit projected for 2017-18. And really that is the 3rd lowest, because Assistant coach Ryane Clowe can be placed on LTIR so we can free up $4.85 million more if we need. That primes us for great buying position. If we are not buyers at the deadline, we can certainly make a run at Shattenkirk, or an Anaheim defender, or Dennis Wideman (who SBN-bro Matchsticks & Gasoline projected as a possible NJD target last offseason) plus anything else we might want in the offseason.

Draft Picks?

From CapFriendly, you can see the Devils have 3 extra picks in the top 3 rounds over the next 2 years. I believe that this is the highest figure in the NHL regardless of unresolved conditions on trades. Furthermore, we are in one of the best Expansion Draft positions. Play with it here. We will probably only have to part with the likes of a Josefson- or Bennet-type forward or — more likely — a Moore/Lovejoy type defender.

Conclusion

If you’re worried about the future of the Devils, stop. If you think Shero should be on the hot seat, stop. This GM’s vision is not even close to complete yet. I believe thie article shows how far we are from being done with the rebuild. We have at least this year to build. Depending on this coming offseason moves, I may even give him all of next year. However, Hynes needs to prove that he can do the one thing he is supposed to excel at — develop our young talent. He’s 0 for 1 with premier talent so far (Zacha).

What do you guys think? Are you any more optimistic or pessimistic for the teams future based on this year? Leave your thoughts below!