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Devils Prospect Could Prove Valuable

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This coming season will be an important one for the Devils. After battling out the second half of the season last year, the Devils still were not able to pull back into playoff contention, and found themselves on the outside looking in. Injuries were a big reason that led the Devils on the slippery slope which they could not endure. If the injury bug comes back to bite the Devils again, then the door opens up for some of the AHL players to try to make an immediate impact upon arrival. Vladimir Zharkov and Alexander Vasyunov were able to accomplish that this past season, and will contend for a starting spot this year.

There are three players though who have a particular style about them that make me think one day they could shine in the Devils organization: Stephen Gionta, Matt Anderson and Maxim Noreau.

 

Stephen Gionta:
All Devils fans are familiar with the last name Gionta. From family genes alone you would imagine that he has a shot somewhere down the line to show what he can really do out there on the ice. He played 12 games with the Devils this past year, and the centerman struggled. Trust me, I see his stats the same way you do. It’s a big goose-egg in the point’s column and was -3 to boot. Not very impressive, I know. However, 12 games is not enough time to showcase what he could possibly do in the big leagues. He was playing third and fourth line minutes, I would be impressed if he registered two points in twelve games. His time in the AHL has shown signs that he could make it, but there are inconsistencies that need to be addressed.

He has accumulated 95 points over 5 AHL seasons, averaging out to 19 points a season. If he adds a consistent presence to his game, he could easily be averaging 25-30 points a year. At 27 years old, he still has a window of opportunity to adjust, but that window is closing soon.

Matt Anderson:

Anderson is another center who seems to be more deserving of a chance to showcase his abilities. In the minors last season, he finished with 55 points in 76 games, scoring 23 times. He has also shown major improvements over his time spent in Albany. Playing for the Chicago Wolves to begin his career, he finished his second season with 31 points. The next year he finished with 45 points and then just finished this year with another increase in stats again.

As his stats increase, the Devils should give him a serious look if they need to call up a center. He offensive games moves fluidly, and is also a credit to have on defense as well. Anderson is 28 now and could very well end his playing days in the minors, though his talent would seemingly be wasted by staying there. If the Devils end up in another hole like last season, there is no harm in trying out a few of the younger guys on the big stage, and Anderson should be first in line.

Maxim Noreau:

Noreau is a solid defensive prospect that the Devils may be looking into already. The Devils and the Wild completed a deal that sent him over to the Garden State, and while he remains not completely NHL ready at this moment, he has shown he has the ability to push his game to the next level.

With the Houston Aeros, Noreau finished the 08-09 campaign with 39 points through 77 games played. He followed that year up with a 52 point season through 76 games. He is able to play consistently night in and night out. Now all that he needs to do is tweak his game to become NHL ready. I am not saying he should be dropped right into the top defensive pair unit, but he is receiving praise for his ability to move the puck well, something the Devils have been missing. At 24 years old, he could find himself splitting time between the AHL and the NHL which wouldn’t be bad for him. Hopefully it prepares him both physically and mentally to be able to perform up to par every night in New Jersey.

Filed in: NHL Teams, New Jersey Devils, David Pavlak, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: matt+anderson, maxim+noreau, stephen+gionta

Comments

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IF you were a TRUE Devils fan, you would know that (1) Noreau has already signed to play in Switzerland this season and (2) Gionta and Anderson are (and never have been) prospects in our system - both are overaged vets in the AHL

Zalewski, Henrique and Zharkov will probably be the Albany forwards who contribute the most this season. I don’t see Gionta or Anderson playing any games in the NHL this season

Posted by mikeP on 08/16/11 at 03:08 PM ET

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Noreau is playing in Switzerland this year

Posted by Corey on 08/16/11 at 03:17 PM ET

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Is this the best we can do for Devils’ coverage?

Posted by RC on 08/16/11 at 03:17 PM ET

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A one-year deal in Switzerland doesn’t mean that he will never return. As I said, he is 24 years old. Still has plenty of time to make a run through the Devils system. If the Devils struggled as bad as they did last season out of the gate, there is no reason to discount both Anderson and Gionta.

Posted by David Pavlak on 08/16/11 at 03:21 PM ET

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+1 on all the above comments.  As a “Devils Advocate”, you should know more about the Devils.

Also, Vasyunov was told by Lamoriello he’s not going to make the NHL this year so he went back to the KHL.

Posted by BishopQ on 08/16/11 at 05:31 PM ET

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All, keep in mind this is an OPINION based article. My opinion at that. There are plenty of sites where you can all write out own stories and opinions.

Posted by David Pavlak on 08/16/11 at 05:39 PM ET

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David - your opinion is fine and we can disagree.  As a devoted Devils fan I am more interested in how Alex Urbom or Adam Larsson will fit into our system this year.  Also where Tedenby and Josefson will excel and if they will stay up or spend some time down in Albany.

I think most Devils fans problem with your commentary is you’ve chosen to discuss where some 5th or 6th liners might fit this year.  Both Gionta and Anderson could see a game or two depending on injuries, but it’s highly unlikely they will epitomize Devils Hockey and stick with the club for multiple seasons moving forward.

Posted by BishopQ on 08/16/11 at 07:01 PM ET

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I assumed this article was about Adam Larsson or maybe even Henrique instead of the other talented Swedes in your system, but man was I wrong.

Writing about players who are career AHLers or ones who went overseas instead is a pretty interesting angle.  I’m not sure how you can expect Devils fans not be annoyed with your poor choices when the article is supposed to be about prospects making an impact this year (again see Adam Larsson). 

Unless your definition of valuable means they’d hold some value to other teams like in a trade but again these players don’t fill that definition either.

Posted by JBM on 08/16/11 at 10:42 PM ET

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BishopQ - If it is a report on Urbom/Larsson/Tedenby and Josefson you are looking for, then I will provide that. Also, never said these players would epitomize Devils hockey and stick with the club for years, any AHL player knows that their time could be very limited if they make it anywhere due to their inexperience. They were only meant to be looked at as a quick short-term solution.

I appreciate the time you took to provide a glimpse of constructive criticism compared to the rest who have suddenly written me off for a) a poor selection and b) a difference of opinion. Some forget I am still a student in school and do this on the side. I do not spend all my hours fixated to the computer searching for Devils hockey news, but I try my best to stay current. I am not perfect, but then again, who is? Again, be on the look-out for an article about the players you asked about.

Take care.

Posted by David Pavlak on 08/17/11 at 12:47 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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