The New Jersey Devils surprised everyone last season by making it to the Stanley Cup Finals. With the loss of a key player and the continuing aging of an icon, Devils’ fans need to brace themselves for the upcoming season(s) from hell.
Much like a bitter breakup, General Manager Lou Lamoriello and fans, felt pain at the sight of every prediction to the confirmation that now Ex-Captain Zach Parise, has decided to part ways with the Devils. Parise decided to sign with the Minnesota Wild, opting to return to his roots, and Devils’ fans wish him the best… eh maybe not. This breakup is going to go through all the stages from anger, guilt, and long-ways-away forgiveness.
Parise was the heart and soul of the club. The coming-of-age 27 year-old played 7 seasons with the Devils, racking up 194 goals and 216 assists for 410 points in 502 games played. A talented player with a good head on his shoulders, he was a player to build a team around, he was the hope for a Stanley Cup. Now, with his departure, where will the Devils look?
Many fans will revert back to the rock, the goalie, Martin Brodeur. Sooner than later fans will realize, however, that Brodeur is not the player to hang your hat on. Brodeur has lead the Devils to three Stanley Cups and an incredible amount of wins, and for that, many praises and respect is given. But, at the age of 40 with only two more years left on his contract, fans again will be disappointed when he retires.
The next possible option, since he will be with the club until he retires, would be forward Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk signed a fifteen-year, $100 million dollar contract that will see him play to the old age of 42. In 10 seasons in the NHL, he has amassed 785 points in 779 games. Sure, his 406 goals is a nice stat, but with a career minus 110 rating, he is not the all-around player fans need.
The next viable option, and perhaps the best option to date, is young forward Adam Henrique. In 2007 he was a member of the Gold Medal Team Ontario U-17 at the Canada Winter Games. He played minor hockey for the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League where he won the Wayne Gretzky Trophy for playoff MVP, and more importantly, won the Memorial Cup in 2009 and 2010. Henrique is just 22 years-old beginning his second season with the Devils. Last year, his rookie year, Henrique played 74 games and contributed 16 goals and 35 helpers for 51 points. In contrast to Kovalchuk, he had a plus 8 rating.
The loss of Parise has left a major hole in terms of leadership, depth, and most importantly, hope for New Jersey Devils’ fans. Further, in a few years, Martin Brodeur, the winning-est goalie in NHL history, will retire. Darker days are surely ahead for the Devils until they replace the voids, but still, fans can instill their hope in young forward Adam Henrique. Henrique has all the accolades that allow him to lead the Devils. It will take a few years, but the Devils will return to their normal form; a perennial Stanley Cup contender.