Jared Ramsden at Hockey's Future has two articles up focusing on the Devils' rookies
and prospects in Lowell.
As you know, there were three rookies playing a substantial amount of time for the Devils this past season: David Clarkson, Andy Greene, and Rod Pelley. I agree with Ramsden that Clarkson is set as a regular for this team. He may not be the next Randy McKay or the next Claude Lemieux; but he's definitely a physical, agitating presence that's useful for the team.
Greene and Pelley will definitely have to work hard to earn their spots once again. I think the Devils will exercise some more patience with Greene. Defensemen traditionally require more experience to pick up the way to play proper defense at the NHL level when it comes to timing, decision making, and positioning. There are a few examples right now on New Jersey. It took Paul Martin until this season to become a consistent top-end defenseman; Johnny Oduya was much better this season than in his first NHL season; Colin White needed a few seasons before becoming more than just a physical defensemen. I don't think Greene will become a top 2 defenseman; but if he works at it, he may be solid regular yet. It also helps that more than half of the Devils' 9 defensemen from this past season aren't necessarily staying in New Jersey.
With the emergence of Petr Vrana, Rod Pelley has more competition for a spot on the team. Vrana is being hailed as the next Sergei Brylin or at least plays a game like him. Vrana was consistent for Lowell according to Ramsden
and you can be sure he'll be in training camp until the end. Aside from Vrana, the only other rather talented prospect in the Devils system right now seems to be Nicklas Bergfors. And Bergfors isn't going to go to NJ unless there's a spot on a scoring line that's open. Given New Jersey's offensive woes, maybe one will be open for next season. All that aside, if Brylin doesn't return, expect a fight in training camp between Pelley and Vrana for spot on the team as a checking forward. Pelley did play in that role decently enough last season, but he may have to end up proving that point once again this coming September.
Speaking of prospects, I checked out the ISS Top 30 at Hockey's Future
and their 21st rated prospect is defenseman John Carlson. Josh mentioned him in a comment
- he's local (Colonia), he's big (6'2", 212 lbs.), and he's got a shot. I did a little digging on him. He's been a productive threat from the point in Indiana
in the United States Hockey League; and Carlson is going to become a Minuteman next season.
From NHL Entry Draft 2008
, we can learn that he favors the Devils
, and he skates real well for a big man according to Jack Barzee from Central Scouting.
College bound, Devils fan, and a big d-man who can skate and shoot? Sign him up, Lou! I would be very happy if the Devils draft Carlson. The Devils draft philosophy has always been drafting the best player available; so here's hoping he's still around at the 21st overall pick.
Labels: 2008 Offseason, Devils Prospects, Hockey - General