Post-Parise: Devils Poised for Indemnification
By: Mike Luciano (@MikeLuci)
This latest tribute to analyzing the post-Parise New Jersey Devils serves as a follow-up to this piece, which dissected one of the realistic routes Lou Lamoriello could be exploring in his “Plan B”. In another attempt the sugarcoat the ramifications of losing a marquee talent in Parise from a technical perspective, the Devils essentially lost out on at least thirty assured goals coming out of one player. The numbers and even the hit the Devil’s offensive depth took are reparable without having to make any outside additions to their lineup. Untended, the offense naturally looks discouragingly weaker on paper without Parise and when the array of preseason predictions start popping up throughout the hockey blogsphere, I’m prepared for the consensus to rank the Devils well out of the margins of a postseason slot based on that principle alone.
The Devils will be a competitive team this coming season and are on stable ground in that aspect. It goes overlooked because the approach that Lamoriello has taken on Parise’s departure reflects his covert nature of how he maintains his operations. Parise’s offense is projected to be replaced but the assets that are being relied on will ultimately go unnoticed unless they’re specifically pointed out.
A notable portion weighs on seeing what a healthy Jacob Josefson and a reformed Mattias Tedenby are capable of contributing through a full season. Josefson’s past two seasons have been battered by injuries and limited the Devil’s faithful to only seeing mere flashes of his capabilities as a fulltime player. Tedenby has been a continuing project for Pete DeBoer as Jacques Lemaire’s efforts carried over into his coaching regime to permanently instill a balanced two-way element to his game. Tedenby’s liable nature in his own zone was sorely reflected on his lack of playing time and led to his eventual banishment to Albany. Between the speed and flashy skill he undoubtedly possesses, he could become an instant contributor this coming season if he proves he’s exorcized his glaring shortcomings that prompted DeBoer to give him such a short leash.
Ultimately, the performances of these two young Swedes can potentially make or break where the Devils stand as a viable playoff contender.
Take into consideration Ilya Kovalchuk’s adaptation to the playing system employed by DeBoer, which was reflected by his belated breakout play midseason last year. After scoring just eleven goals in his first thirty games last year, Kovy went on a tangent and amassed twenty-six goals in forty-seven games. If you translate that output into an eighty-two game season it equates to forty-five goals. What this year’s team will feature (if all goes accordingly) that last year’s lacked are a full season of Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac. It’s worth acknowledging that Henrique faces the psychological hysteria derived from the concept of the alleged sophomore slump, while Zajac’s incentive is going into this coming season in a contract year.
The most overlooked key to the Devil’s unrealized projected indemnification lies in the recent additions that completed DeBoer’s coaching staff with an emphasized focus on assistant coach Matt Shaw. Shaw was brought in to run the Devil’s power play and his well-documented track record brings reason for excitement. Under Shaw, the San Jose Shark’s power play finished second two times and fourth one time from 2009-2012. His lone year with the Minnesota Wild in 2008-2009 saw the team’s power play finish ninth that year.
Any growth the Devil’s power play experiences under Shaw will play a contributory role towards indemnifying the offensive output vacated by Parise. Using last year’s power play numbers as an example, the Devils converted forty-six times out of two hundred sixty-seven power play opportunities (17.2%), which ranked them fourteenth. Even if the power play climbs up a single percent (18.2%) out of the same number of power play opportunities they had this past season, it translates to forty-eight power play goals scored. Although the overall improvement is only by two goals, they eclipsed last year’s output with a team that was absent of Parise’s presence.
Zach Parise was responsible for seven out of those forty-six power play goals, which reduces last year’s total to thirty-nine when his power play output is removed from the equation. Those seven goals needed to equalize last year’s output and the two additional goals would be contributed from different sources of offense, which is where the indemnification lies hidden and goes overlooked.