The way the 2013 New Jersey Devils season plays out has quite a range of spectrum. For one, I don’t think it would surprise some folks if the Devils miss the playoffs. I also don’t think that a return trip to the Conference Finals (and maybe the Stanley Cup Finals) is out of the question. I think we know what most of the Devils players are going to give in terms of output. There are two guys that will define which point of the spectrum the Devils land on; their names are Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby.
Most every player on the current Devils roster proved themselves during last year’s regular season and playoffs. What the Devils get from their veterans is pretty much a known quantity at this point. We don’t know, however, what the ceilings are for Josefson and Tedenby.
Neither played more than 43 games last season. Josefson missed a chunk of time due to injury and Tedenby was sent down to get more ice time at AHL Albany. Josefson did return for a portion of the Conference Finals as well as the Cup Finals, however.
In the regular season, Josefson had two goals and nine points in 41 games. Tedenby totaled one goal and six points in 43 games. Josefson recorded a point in six postseason games. This doesn’t represent their true potential, though.
The year prior to last, Josefson showed flashes of potential. He scored more goals and points (3g, 10p) in 13 less games than last season. For Tedenby, he racked up eight goals and 14 assists in 58 games two years ago. Their trend for the 2010-11 season, is definitely more of a representation of what they can do than their campaigns from last year.
It’s up to them to decide whether the Devils flirt with missing the postseason, or help to ease the burden left from Zach Parise and propel them to another deep run in the playoffs.
As the season gets going, Tedenby has been placed on the second line with Patrik Elias and David Clarkson. He showed great poise and forechecked extremely well on Saturday night, with all that effort finally paying off with an assist on the game-winning goal. He doesn’t have to pump in 25 goals or 40 assists this year. He needs to be a reliable player that can create chances. An ideal season from him would be somewhere in the 12 goals and 25 assists range. I think he has the potential to be a career second line winger. He scored several dazzling goals in his rookie season, as seen from above.
Things are a little murkier when examining Josefson. He has started the season on the fourth line with Cam Janssen and Stefan Matteau; yup…a goon and a rookie. That is not the way Josefson is going to grow. He should either be sent back to the minors (he’s still just 21), or the Devils need to bring up Bobby Butler to play on the right wing to provide somewhat viable talent around him. What could happen, is that when Adam Henrique returns to the lineup, there may be a shuffling effect that will give Josefson a chance to work with players who can produce points.
He is more of a two-way player than Tedenby. Down the road, I see him being a slightly more productive Sergei Brylin. Hopefully they give home some help and he can play the role of what Stephen Gionta did last season; a youngster working around some veterans.
The key to last year was the Devils rolling four lines. It was the first time they had a fourth line that could generate chances consistently since the lockout. No team can win a cup without a fourth line; simple as that. Losing Parise, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Petr Sykora, a trio of players will have to mesh in with this Devils offense.
Josefson and Tedenby are the x-factors. If they can play closer to their potential than they did last year, head coach Pete DeBoer can trust four lines to go out on the ice and create quality scoring chances, just like he had in 2012. If he can get that from the two unknowns, maybe they can duplicate the success they had of playing hockey into June of last year.