Hall, more speed bol­ster Devils for new sea­son

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Tom Cana­van AP Sports Writer

The Devils, who chal­lenged for a play­off spot for most of last sea­son, en­ter a new cam­paign with more speed and a top notch scorer in left wing Tay­lor Hall, who was ac­quired from the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers.

NEWARK, N.J. » In tak­ing over the New Jersey Devils last sea­son, John Hynes wanted a team that skated fast and played with dis­ci­pline and in­ten­sity.

Play fast, and be hard to play against. It was hockey 101 as taught by the NHL’s youngest coach.

The Devils im­proved six points in Hynes’ first sea­son and chal­lenged for a play­off spot for much of the sea­son.

The sys­tem was sim­i­lar to what Mike Sul­li­van in­stalled when he took over the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins in De­cem­ber and led them to the Stan­ley Cup. Sul­li­van had re­placed Hynes at the coach Wilkes-Barre/Scran­ton after he got the Devils’ job.

The 42-year-old Hynes more to work with in his sec­ond sea­son, both tal­ent and speed.

Thirty-goal scor­ers Kyle Palmieri and Adam Hen­rique are back. So is All­Star goal­tender Cory Sch­nei­der.

The big­gest ad­di­tion is Tay­lor Hall. The 24-yearold left wing was ac­quired from Ed­mon­ton for de­fense­man Adam Lars­son just be­fore free agency started.

Hall gives the Devils the type of top-notch scorer they have not had since Zach Parise left for Min­nesota after the 2011-12 sea­son and Ilya Ko­valchuk re­tired and re­turned to Rus­sia the fol­low­ing year.

“You see at the pace at which he plays the game is al­most at an­other level,” Sch­nei­der said of Tay­lor. “Again, you don’t want to put ev­ery­thing squarely on him to kind of cre­ate of­fense. I think he will.”

Hynes has seen Hall’s of­fen­sive skills in ev­ery pre­sea­son game. He also knows that hockey is a team game.

“We want him to play his game within what we are try­ing to do,” Hynes said. “At the same time it’s not all about the pres­sure for him to score. He needs to have a strong group to play with that can as­sist.”

If the Devils are to get to the play­offs for the first time in five sea­sons, here are things to watch:

Re­plac­ing Lars­son

To get Hall, the Devils parted with one of their top de­fense­man. Lars­son and cap­tain Andy Greene were the team’s top pair and they matched against the op­po­si­tion’s top line when­ever pos­si­ble.

For­mer Pen­guin Ben Love­joy was signed as a free agent and he has a chance to step in with Greene. He can blocks shots and kill penal­ties. The other op­tion would be Da­mon Sev­er­son.

Kyle and Adam

Palmieri and Hen­rique had ca­reers sea­sons with 30 goals last sea­son. The ques­tion now is can they do it two years in a row. The other un­known in the of­fen­sive game is Mike Cam­mal­leri. He had 14 goals in 42 games be­fore be­ing side­lined for the sea­son with in­juries to his right wrist and hand. He’s 34-year-old now so com­ing back from in­juries will be tougher.

ZACHA: Pavel Zacha was the Devils’ top draft pick in 2015. The cen­ter got his first taste of the NHL late in the sea­son and he looked good. He has played well in the pre­sea­son but the or­ga­ni­za­tion must de­cide whether to have him play lim­ited min­utes in the NHL or to send him to Al­bany for ex­ten­sive play­ing time in the AHL. He is prob­a­bly good enough to stay.


The big­gest sur­prise of train­ing camp might be de­fense­man Yo­hann Au­vita. The 27-year-old French­man was signed to a one-year, two-way con­tract by the Devils in May after play­ing most of his pro­fes­sional ca­reer in Fin­land. His of­fen­sive skills have re­minded some of for­mer Devils de­fense­man Brian Rafal­ski. He works hard but has to learn how to play in the NHL’s smaller rinks.

An­other pen­guin

Hynes and gen­eral man­ager Ray Shero have had a habit of bring­ing in for­mer Pen­guins. Last year is was Bobby Farn­ham, David War­sof­sky and Tyler Kennedy. The for­mer Pen­guins this year are Love­joy and Beau Ben­nett, who were signed as free agents.


LAST SEA­SON: 38-368, 84 points, sev­enth in the Metropoli­tan Divi­sion. Missed the play­offs for the fourth straight year. COACH: John Hynes (sec­ond sea­son, sec­ond NHL sea­son). ADDED: LW Tay­lor Hall, D Ben Love­joy, C Ver­non Fid­dler, RW Beau Ben­nett, D Kyle Quincey, D Yo­hann Au­vitu. LOST: D Adam Lars­son, D David Sch­lemko, F Jordin Tootoo, C Stephen Gionta, F Bobby Farn­ham. PLAYER TO WATCH: Tay­lor Hall gives the Devils their first true goal scorer since los­ing Zach Parisi to free agency after the 2011 sea­son and hav­ing Ilya Ko­valchuk re­tire and re­turn the Rus­sia after the fol­low­ing sea­son. The 24-year-old has a chip on his shoul­der after be­ing traded by Ed­mon­ton, where he spent his first six sea­sons. He had 132 goals and 196 as­sists in 381 games and led the Oil­ers in scor­ing for three of the past four sea­sons. OUT­LOOK: The sec­ond­sea­son of the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins’ model is in place. This is by far the fastest team the Devils have had in years. They im­proved six points in Hynes’ first sea­son and now have more of­fense to sup­port All-Star goal­tender Cory Sch­nei­der. The ques­tion mark is the de­fense. Lars­son was top pair back­liner. Love­joy could step in and work with Andy Greene. Au­vitu might sur­prise. With no Sid­ney Crosby to rely on, maybe this is a play­off team.


Devils’ Kyle Quincey, left, and John Moore cel­e­brate Moore’s goal against the Rangers dur­ing an Oct. 1 ex­hi­bi­tion game in Newark, N.J.

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