Last Word on Hockey brings you our team of the decade series. We will dive into the best player at each position this decade for every organization. The biggest and the best at each position, with the most memorable moments in franchise history. Here is the New Jersey Devils decade lineup.
New Jersey Devils Decade Team
In the first part of the millennium, the New Jersey Devils were one of the best teams in the NHL. The Devils won two Stanley Cups in four years and were on top of the hockey world. As the years progressed, the organization continued to make the playoffs, but that all changed once the calendar flipped to the 2010s. What made the Devils so good in the late 1990s and into the early 2000s was how the organization drafted and developed their talent.
However, when the calendar flipped into the 2010s, instead of being a contender the Devils turned into a pretender. General manager Lou Lamoriello relied too much on older talented and did not trust the young players on the team. Most of the draft picks were rushed through the system and never given a real opportunity to develop. The proof was in the pudding as the Devils only made the playoffs twice in nine years. One of their trips to the playoffs in 2012, saw the Devils go all the way to the Stanley Cup Final losing to the Los Angeles Kings in six games. The next time the Devils saw the playoffs was in 2018.
That is not good for a team that did not miss the playoffs from 1997-2010. Even though the Devils did not find much success, there were still some bright spots for the Devils. Let’s take a look at the players who made the New Jersey Devils decade team.
Left-Wing: Taylor Hall ( 2016 – Dec 2019)
This is probably one of the toughest picks for the New Jersey Devils decade team. There were so many options to choose from and all of them controversial in the eyes of many Devils fans. Ultimately winning out was Taylor Hall. Arriving on the scene in June of 2016, Hall took the Devils by storm. In 211 games with the Devils recording 208 points (76 goals and 132 assists). During his time with Devils, Hall won the 2018 Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player as he guided the Devils to their first Stanley Cup Playoff appearance since 2012.
Not all of Hall’s time with New Jersey was memorable. He was injured twice and missed most of the 2018-19 season was a knee injury. However, Hall had a lasting impact as he led the team in points even during periods he was injured. And yes while his last few months with the team were surrounded by some controversy and got traded to the Arizona Coyotes, he did more for the franchise than others at that position.
Like I said before this was a tough position to pick as Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk were in the running as well. Both players created some controversy when they left as well, but made an impact on the ice. They were both members of the Devils team that went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012. Parise played with the Devils from 2005-2012. While Kovalchuk came to the Devils at the trade deadline in 2010 and left in 2013. In 502 career games, Parise recorded 410 points (195 goals and 216 assists) before leaving for the Minnesota Wild. In 222 games, Kovalchuk recorded 201 points (89 goals and 112 assists).
Centre: Patrik Elias (1996 – 2016)
Many fans are gonna why have Patrik Elias here. Didn’t he play the wing for most of his career? While that is correct, Elias did play centre for some time in the 2010s. Therefore he needs to be in the discussion for the New Jersey Devils decade team. Not to mention he is the franchise leader in goals, assists, and points. After retiring at the end of the 2015-16 season, Elias had his jersey number 26 retired. While his better days were behind him, Elias was still putting up points for the Devils.
During 418 games in the 2010s, Elias recorded 319 of his 1025 points including 113 of his 408 goals and 206 of his 617 assists. In 24 games in his final playoff run with the Devils in 2012, he had eight points (five goals and three assists). Elias is the only homegrown Devils player to reach the 1000 point club. He set all kinds of records for the Devils and is the perfect choice for this position.
When you think of the 2010s and the Devils centre position you do think of Travis Zajac. He is a solid player that you want out there to take faceoffs when the game is on the line. You don’t think of Zajac of having offensive prowess, but he can score goals when positioned with the right players. He is more of a defensive center, but that is not a bad thing. He has taught the younger players on the team how to take faceoffs. The consummate leader Zajac deserves an honourable mention.
Another player that has to mentioned is Adam Henrique. Henrique scored one of the biggest goals if not the biggest during the past decade. In overtime of Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Final, Henrique scored against the New York Rangers to lift the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final. For that alone, he gets a mention, plus he was a solid player before traded to the Anaheim Ducks for Sami Vatanen.
Right Wing: Kyle Palmieri (2015 – Present)
The most obvious choice for the New Devils Jersey decade team at this position is Kyle Palmieri. The Devils acquired the New Jersey native in June of 2015. After being considered a second and third-line player, Palmieri was promoted to a first-line role with the Devils. He was the scorer the Devils were looking for. In 363 games with the Devils Palmieri recorded 249 points (132 goals and 117 assists). Even though Palmieri only his the 30 goal mark once, he is averaging 26 goals per season.
The Devils need to do everything in their power to keep him as a Devil. The New Jersey native has found a role with the Devils. He is the perfect player for Jersey’s team.
One player that could be mentioned here is David Clarkson. Clarkson knew what his role was with the Devils before leaving to sign with Toronto. He was a big body that caused chaos in front of the net. In 426 games with the Devils, he recorded 170 points (97 goals and 73 assists). Maybe if Palmieri did not show up to replace him, the top spot might have belonged to Clarkson. Clarkson was what he was, but did record a career-high 30 goals during the 2011-12 season.
Left Defenceman: Andy Greene (2007 – Feb 2020)
Now that the offence is covered, on to the defence. Leading the way for the New Jersey Devils decade team is former Devils captain Andy Greene. Greene arrived on the scene during the 2006-07 season. He brought stability to the Devils defence after the departure of their legends and future Hall of Famers. As the years went on he became a leader and was given the captaincy. During his early tenure, Greene was truly an underrated player and never got the respect he deserved. A solid player on defence, he should have made the 2014 US Men’s Olympic Hockey Team.
Before being traded to the New York Islanders, this past trade deadline, Greene recorded 246 points (49 goals and 197 assists) in 923 career games with the Devils. While his game declined over the years, the Devils still relied on him to eat heavy minutes as he went up against the best players on the other team. That was something Greene did so well early in his career. Even though he was not the same player, Greene still brings a leadership quality that teams like.
Another player on the left side that has to be mentioned here is Bryce Salvador. Currently, Salvador works for the MSG Network as an analyst. His talent for breaking down the defence is what is going to make him a good coach if he wanted to in the future. Salvador and Greene crossed paths and both players were solid for the Devils in their run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012. For his career with the Devils Salvador recorded 47 points (eight goals and 39 assists) in 339 games.
Right Defenceman: Damon Severson (2015 – Present)
Moving to the right side, the choice for the New Jersey Devils decade team is Damon Severson. Severson has developed into a solid player. The Devils had a strong right side before the trade deadline with Vatanen and P.K. Subban. The transition for Severson has been tough. For so many years being paired with Greene and playing against other team’s top talent, this year has been tough for Severson. However, one season does not define a career or a decade. Severson has been rock solid for the Devils since coming to the Devils. Being paired with Greene did wonders for his career. Greene showed the youngster what he takes to make it in the NHL.
Severson for his career has recorded 163 points (37 goals and 126 assists) in 430 career games with the Devils. His best season numbers-wise came in 2018-19 when he recorded career highs in points (39) goals (11), and assists (28). Severson will be a foundation for the Devils defence going forward with three years left on a six-year contract he signed back in 2017.
Adam Larsson and Vatanen get honourable mentions at this position. Could have gone with Vatanen in the top spot. Vatanen has been rock solid for the Devils since coming to New Jersey from Anaheim. He was a true number one defender the Devils were lacking. His presence has been missed since being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. Larsson had a rocky road during his time with the Devils. Came into the league too soon and was in and out of the lineup. But when he was in there he played well. Larsson was part of the trade that saw Hall come to New Jersey from Edmonton.
Goaltender: Cory Schneider (2013 – Present)
This one for the New Jersey Devils decade team may have Devils pulling out their hair and will have them bickering for days. As much as I want to put Martin Brodeur in this spot, the nod goes to Cory Schneider. And while his last couple of seasons have not been that great, he will be the first to admit that, he has played the most games at the position during this past decade. And the idea when Scheinder was acquired at the 2013 NHL Draft, the Devils found their next goalie once Brodeur did retire.
Schneider in his career with the Devils has a 2.50 goals-against average with a .919 save percentage in 311 games starting 302 of those games. He was part of the Devils team that went to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, though it was Keith Kinkaid that got them there. However, Schneider did get into that series against the Tampa Bay Lightning winning the only game in that series. While he has gone through struggles all goalies do and with Schneider, it is all mental. He has been a good goalie since arriving in New Jersey and get the nod.
You have to mention the Hockey Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur. He guided the Devils to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. He played well for the Devils in that series. It is a shame he could have gotten one more Stanley Cup. Towards the end, it was not a smooth transition with Schneider. They overlapped for a couple of seasons before Brodeur left via free agency to go to the St. Louis Blues. But there is a lot more behind that before he returned to the organization as part of the front office. The winningest goalie in Devils franchise and NHL history has to be a part of the conversation even though his career in this past decade.
That does it for the New Jersey Devils decade team piece, keep your eyes peeled for the next team in our series.
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