By Jeff O’Connor
#16- Jacob Josefson – Forward
2013 Season Stats
Games played: 22
Average Time on ice: 12:59
Points: 3 (1g,2a)
Season Grade: F
In his first two seasons, Jacob Josefson was plagued by injuries. In this past season, his confidence (according to his coach) made 2013 a disaster. He essentially missed two months of playing time from February to April, as he was sent down to the AHL to regain his swagger. After putting up one point in his first 16 games until his demotion, Josefson returned to the lineup on April 7. In his final six games, he posted a goal and an assist. The only positive that came from Josefson’s season, is that he was the most relied on forward for the penalty kill by head coach Peter DeBoer. While he has not hit the potential of his first round draft pick status, he is clearly still well liked by the coaching staff.
This is it for the 22-year-old Swede. It’s now or never. He was signed to a cheap, one-year deal in the offseason. Unfortunately for him, he needs to not only stay on the ice, he needs to produce as well. It’s going to be quite a difficult challenge for a player whose development has been hindered by playing 91 regular season games over three seasons due to mostly injuries. That’s just over ONE season’s workload over the course of three years (regardless of the lockout). So now he has to meet a pair of tasks that he’s failed to do in his first three campaigns; not miss any games and put points on his stat line.
The biggest issue for Josefson currently is where will his ice time be. Even with the loss of Ilya Kovalchuk and David Clarkson, GM Lou Lamoriello re-staffed this lineup with a lot of veterans such as Michael Ryder, Jaromir Jagr, Ryane Clowe and Rusty Olesz. It’s a well-filled lineup before we even get into training camp. So how is Josefson going to get any time? The only way I see him getting any time, is if Olesz falters and is a disappointment. Just look at it, the first two lines are stocked with talent and JJ isn’t going to take ice away from any of them. The fourth line has been the team’s most consistent over the last two years; they shouldn’t be going anywhere. So there seems to be only one potential slot for Jake, except if the Devils decide to send down Stephen Gionta since he has a two-way contract.
I see it being another disappointing season for Josefson. With no real spot on the roster from our vantage point, he’s going to struggle to crack the lineup. If he does, it may not be for long stretches at a time. He might get in for three games, then have to sit for a bunch, which obviously isn’t going to aid his development. If an injury occurs, I would think he’d be the first guy to get a shot since he’s a better two way player than say a Krys Barch or a Mattias Tedenby. That’s probably the only way he stays in the lineup for long-term.
I see Josefson, playing 40 games and posting six goals and nine assists. Even that might be generous. It’s tough to tell since the short-term or long-term plan of the Devils doesn’t appear to have Josefson in it. Before he gets the label of first-round bust (and it’s very close right now), NJ needs to find a way to get him into the lineup and give him one last chance to succeed. Whether he sinks or swims is up to him, but it’s up to DeBoer and his coaching staff to give him the opportunity.
In case you missed them, here are the first five parts of the series: