New Jersey Devils Ready to Rock
Lou Lamoriello is optimistic that the season will start on time.
Team President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello of the Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils says his team is completely healthy with training camp scheduled to start in a week and a half.
There’s only problem: between now and then lies the September 15 expiration of the current CBA, which – given the lack of progress on a new deal – will result in the NHL locking out all its players.
Hence, training camp for any team is a pipe dream.
Still, it’s great news for the Devils that, as they look to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals this season, they are in great shape.
Let’s update what’s going on with the players who were hurting this offseason:
- Defenceman Mark Fayne underwent wrist surgery in late-June that could leave him still sitting at the beginning of camp but should not hinder him being ready to go when the puck drops for real. The U.S. born defender played every single game for New Jersey last season, and while his offensive game didn’t progress at all in his sophomore effort, he was given a larger role on the team, topping the 20 MPG mark last season.
- Forward Patrik Elias also had surgery, his procedure to repair a groin tear (ouch!). However, he is already skating again and ready to go. Prior to last season, we expected Elias to be the 14th-best left winger in Fantasy hockey, which was more or less bang on to where he finished or perhaps a tad on the high side. But any way you look at it, Elias easily was among the top 20 players at his position, and as a bonus, he created the missing puck controversy after the Kings won the Stanley Cup. He enjoyed a nice bounce-back season and wound up seeing more ice time than ever before.
- Finally, Ilya Kovalchuk was dealing with a back woe during the playoffs. He’s still in Russia currently, but apparently has healed from the injury that dogged him in the run towards the Finals and is working out to get ready for the season that may not be. Of course, Kovalchuk had his share of injuries woes last season, missing four games early in the schedule. He still managed to enjoy a very nice recovery and in seeing his most ice time ever, wound up putting up his most shots on goal since 2006-07 in a different kind of Devils’ system last season. Kovalchuk racked up double-digit power play goals for the seventh time, although the mere five game-winners was a bit disappointing after he was Johnny on the spot for nine decisive goals in his first full season as a Devil. Should there be a lockout, Kovalchuck, along with other Russian greats Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datysuk, will play in the KHL.
If the lockout does in fact occur and winds up – as many expect – reducing the season to a shortened schedule, that could wind up being good news for a veteran-laden team like the Devils. A shorter season could leave this club fresher come playoff time, and perhaps allow New Jersey to finish what it started last season.
For his part, Lamoriello is bullish on a deal being struck in time for both training camp and the regular season to begin on time.