by David Pavlak on 07/05/12 at 11:19 PM ET
The dust is settled, Zach Parise, captain of the New Jersey Devils, has officially gone home to play hockey with the Minnesota Wild. You can’t blame the guy for wanting to go home and play in front of his family. It’s a decision that a lot of hockey players wish they had the opportunity to make, but it never arises. There is no reason for Parise to become a villain in New Jersey. But with his departure, the Devils are left without a captain. Who will be the player to step in as captain and try to continue to push the success that the team experienced last year?
There are a few options for a possible captain for the team come next season. Obviously there is Ilya Kovalchuk, a player that the Devils have invested a lot of stock into with his massive contract a few seasons ago. The general consensus is that Kovalchuk hasn’t performed up to expectations that were set when he was a member of the Atlanta Thrashers. When he was in the ATL, he was a captain of a struggling team and still put up some very good numbers. Kovalchuk is coming off his best season in New Jersey, registering 37 goals and 46 assists in 77 games. If Kovalchuk is given the captaincy, perhaps his numbers will continue to grow with the team on his back.
Patrik Elias served as the captain of the Devils during the 2006-07 season, leading the team to a 49-24-9 overall record. During his one season as head-honcho, Elias at times seemed uncomfortable and not wanting to be in the role. Perhaps it was forced upon him at the time, but it seemed like he would much rather be an alternate captain and leading in that role. His name will obviously be brought up again as the Devils search for a new captain, but I think they stay clear and go in another direction. I doubt Elias would want to wear the C again, and would rather see a younger player grow into the role.
The Devils have just recently resigned longtime veteran Martin Brodeur to a two year contract. These will undoubtedly be the final two swan songs for Brodeur before he officially hangs them up. I can’t imagine Brodeur coming back after these two seasons, even if he wins back-to-back Stanley Cups. At a certain point, age will catch up to him. The Devils could possibly put the captaincy on Brodeur as an experiment to see how that goes. It hasn’t always panned out to have the goalie be your captain (see Roberto Luongo in Vancouver) but Brodeur is such a veteran presence and long time Devil that the team will have to at the very least consider it. Brodeur had a really good playoff run, and besides being out staged by the Cup MVP, Jonathan Quick, Brodeur was one of the top goalies in the playoffs.
I personally would like to see the Devils give the C to Travis Zajac, granted that he remain healthy. Zajac was an iron man on the team before his ACL injury last offseason that sidelined him for quite some time. At 27, he is young enough to hold onto the position for a little bit and is a fairly consistent and strong player in his six years with the Devils. Will Zajac end up with the C? Probably not. More than likely it will fall to Kovalchuk for the simple fact that if it doesn’t the fans in Newark will riot. With the amount the Devils have invested in Kovalchuk, they will have to give him full control of the team to find out if this contract and his time here was truly worth it.
A positive for the Devils is that they have two definite captains in the making. Both Adam Larsson and Adam Henrique will have what it takes to one day wear the C on their jersey, no matter where they end up in the future. Larsson can grow into a strong, puck moving defenseman that knows how to control a defense. The more time he plays the more experience he will garner, which in turn will help him grow into a future leader. Henrique was a player that struggled to crack the Devils roster for the past few seasons. When Henrique came up to the NHL roster for this season tough, he took advantage of the situation and ran with it. The 22-year old center had 16 goals and 35 assists this past season. More importantly, he had HUGE goals in the playoffs all throughout the Devils Stanley Cup run. If he continues this pace, he will eventually be an NHL caliber captain.
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I am an all around NHL fan. I love to watch Atlantic Division, and root for the Philadelphia Flyers. Just because I cheer for the Flyers, doesn’t mean I don’t keep up with the other teams in the division, specifically the New Jersey Devils. Devils Advocate will provide you with the most important Devils news, filled with my opinion about the selected topic.
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