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Your Top 5 Favorite Devils...With a Twist!

A little offseason time killer examining my 5 favorite Devils...but with certain exclusions to vary up the players named.

Philadelphia Flyers v New Jersey Devils
The current #5 on my list with another player who will almost certainly crack the list in the future.
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

We New Jersey Devils fans have sadly been used to long offseasons for the past 5 years, but that trend doesn’t make it any less agonizing to slog through another. To make matters even worse, we’ve now reached that lovely part of the summer between free agency and training camp where there’s little to no NHL news on a daily basis; with said amount of news, it can be difficult to find something to write about without beating the proverbial dead horse (probably horses for us here at AAtJ) so today I decided to try something a little different.

Today, I’m going to be listing 5 of my favorite Devils of all time, but as mentioned in the title there’s a catch! I want this to be interactive, I want to see others people’s lists and I’m genuinely interested in what they’ll look like with the twist in this game. For today, I (and you, our fans in the comments below) will list my 5 favorite Devils who have not had their number retired by the team; that includes Patrik Elias, whose number is technically out of circulation and will be officially retired next season. My logic behind this move is that those 5 players are 5 of the finest who have ever laced up the skates for not just New Jersey, but the NHL as a whole; if there was no restriction, how many lists would be made up of just those 5 players?

Any other Devil, past or present, (yes, even Minnesota #11 and SKA Saint Petersburg #17) is fair game for a list. Without any further ado, here are my 5 Favorite Devils...With a Twist and my justification for each and their spot on the list.

5. Travis Zajac

Starting off my list is my favorite player on the Devils roster in Travis Zajac; it may be a polarizing choice, as some will argue that he is overpaid and underproduces. My rebuttal is for anyone to go back and watch any games Zajac missed from the past two seasons, and see just how poorly the team performed without him. Don’t get me wrong, he’s no Taylor Hall, but anyone saying Zajac is bad just isn’t watching him play; the video below is an example of why Travis is a very good hockey player.

While we can lament that Zajac doesn’t light the lamp more often in a season, the fact is that he plays the game the right way, and has been instrumental on a number of Devils teams; he was arguably the Devils best player for majority of this past season, and he was one of the best forwards on a nightly basis in the 2012 playoffs. He may not always show up on the score sheet, but his effort on a nightly basis is something younger Devils should watch and strive to equal.

4. John MacLean

Next up is John MacLean, who should have his number in the rafters from his time as a player, and also should never be allowed near the team bench. Johnny Mac scored the legendary goal that sent the Devils to the playoffs for the first time in team history, a moment near and dear to the hearts of many New Jersey fans. I wasn’t old enough to enjoy or appreciate MacLean during the prime years of his career unfortunately, but one momentous moment and a number of other career highlights (as well as being the team’s all-time leading scorer until Elias eclipsed the mark) earns him the #4 spot on my list.

3. Petr Sykora

One third of the famous “A Line” that the Devils rolled out in the late 90s/early 2000s and the true #17 in my eyes, Petr Sykora takes the third spot on my list. Sykora would serve the Devils in two stints during (the latter being towards the end of his career) and he had in my opinion one of the best pure shots of anyone who has ever played for New Jersey. Sykora along with Elias and the player who takes the #1 spot on this list propelled the Devils of their era to be one of the highest scoring teams in the NHL; despite that, everyone still called the Devils a “trapping” team. Such is the price of success I suppose, and Sykora’s 2000 Stanley Cup victory in New Jersey was the reward for his success.

2. Brian Rafalski

The lone defender making me list is a former #28 in Brian Rafalski; here was a player who was breaking into the NHL a few years after I had just started to become more than a casual fan. Rafalski, along with Scott Niedermayer, were the first two offensive defensemen that I was able to truly enjoy watching as a younger hockey fan, as both weren’t too shabby in their own zone either. For younger Devils fans, please do yourselves a favor, and watch the teams that featured the above pair as well as Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko; after that, you won’t wonder why we lament the current defense. Rafalski didn’t always hit the back of the net, but he was an assist machine that easily maneuvered the puck up the ice out of the Devils end; hopefully Damon Severson continues progressing this season towards being the defender Brian was.

1. Jason Arnott

Finally, coming to the end of my list we arrive at another part of the Devils famous “A Line” in their center, Jason Arnott. While he is not one of the longest tenured Devils in team history (he only played in Jersey for 364 games total), Arnott was instrumental when the Devils won the Stanley Cup in 2000 and in getting the team back to the Cup Finals in 2001.

Obviously, the above video is the biggest highlight from his tenure, but Arnott also stood up for teammates and played in every zone of the ice. He is one of the true few 1Cs the Devils have had in their history, and the A Line is still probably my favorite line of all time, earning Jason Arnott the #1 spot on my list.

Your Take

Now I’d like to see your lists and hear your justifications should you want to provide them; which Devils outside of our retired numbers comprise your top 5? Any players who hold a special place in your list for a particular reason? Leave any and all comments below and thank you, as always, for reading!