New Jersey Devils Forging Path of Rebuild

Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports /

New Jersey Devils Rebuilding 101: GM Ray Shero’s Bold Moves Are Paying off Early in 2016-17 as His Team Looks to Secure a Playoff Spot

Currently placed 5th in the Metropolitan Division, the New Jersey Devils own a record of 10-6-5 (25 points) and have a temporary hold on that final Wild-Card spot in the East.

Good afternoon hockey fans. My name is Anthony Orona and I’m a new contributor here at Puck Prose. I’m going to try to primarily focus on prospects, the NHL draft, and team rebuilding but I’m sure I’ll be writing an article or two on my beloved ‘Hawks.

One of the surprise teams of the year, New Jersey enters Monday’s action one point ahead of Boston for the 2nd Wild-Card spot. General Manager Ray Shero has done an outstanding job restocking the cupboard in New Jersey. He wasn’t afraid to make a bold move in trading for Taylor Hall (more on that in a minute), he understands the best way to build a team is down the middle, and he made a fantastic hire in head coach John Hynes. Let’s look at the keys to New Jersey’s rebuild.

Build up the middle

Ed Mulholland- USA TODAY Sports
Ed Mulholland- USA TODAY Sports /

As most of my friends know, I believe the only way to have sustained success in the NHL is to be strong down the middle. The last ten Stanley Cup winners all had franchise centermen.

Ray Shero knows this and has built the Devils accordingly. While he inherited Adam Henrique (who I feel is one of the most underrated players in the league) his first decision as GM was selecting center Pavel Zacha in the 2015 NHL draft. He followed that up by drafting center Michael McLeod in this year’s draft (my favorite player in the draft not named Auston Matthews). Henrique, Zacha, and McLeod give the Devils three centers that should literally make fans giddy.

Trade for a (super)star

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As previously mentioned, Shero wasn’t afraid to swing for the fences when he traded defensemen Adam Larsson for winger Taylor Hall a week after the 2016 draft. While Larsson seems to be on his way to becoming a potential franchise defensemen, Shero understood the need to finally acquire the offensive catalyst the team has lacked since Ilya Kovalchuk departed for the KHL.

Most experts praised the deal for the Devils and with good reason. Trading for Hall gives New Jersey a true offensive star. Now all he has to do is stay healthy.

Be strong in net

While Shero didn’t make the move for Cory Schneider, it deserves mentioning because of how vital Schneider has become to the organization. Schneider is widely regarded has one of the top five goalies in the world and has become a true franchise netminder. He’s a workhorse that could one day win a Vezina.

Next: Quarter Mark Award Winners for Each Major Trophy

There have been other important moves and pieces that have played into the Devils rebuild and more has to happen for the team to be a true championship contender. However, Ray Shero has the team on the fast track to Stanley Cup contention. It’s going to be a fun ride for New Jersey Devils fans.