Photo: Defenseman Jon Merrill has dealt with injuries and inconsistencies in his sophomore NHL season. In 31 games, Merrill has two goals, seven assists, and a minus-10 rating. (courtesy of Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)
It has not been a good season for the New Jersey Devils, as the team has fallen out of playoff contention and appears to be in transition. While the season may soon be lost, the team’s mindset now shifts to see the growth and development of their talented, young defensemen. There have been some growing pains along the way, along with some surprises earlier in the year, but the organization is giving the young players the responsibility, ice time, and patience needed to grow and become NHL players.
Photo: Defenseman Seth Helgeson has split the 2014-15 season between the AHL and NHL. Helgeson was picked in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Dan Hamilton/Icon Sportswire)
The problems of the Albany Devils mirror those of their parent team the New Jersey Devils. Since the start of the 2014-15 season, both clubs have been mired by injuries and inconsistency.
Photo: Anthony Brodeur has struggled in the early part of the 2014-15 season with Gatineau Olympiques, managing a 5-4-0-3 record and a 3.72 goals against average. (courtesy of Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images)
With a windfall of prospects graduating to the pros last season, the New Jersey Devils used the 2014 NHL Draft to restock their junior pool. A few players are underachieving but a handful have done well in the early part of their respective seasons.
Photo: Forward Reid Boucher is one of the more promising forwards in the New Jersey Devils prospect pool. Boucher started the 2014-15 season in the AHL, but should be among the first forwards recalled by the Devils in case of injury. (courtesy of Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)
Since the 2004 lockout, the New Jersey Devils system has not produced the same quality of prospects they were known for during their glory days. This is a result of different issues, like lack of picks, location on the draft board, or losing the magic touch to find late-round gems. But over the past seven years, management has slowly restocked the prospect pool where depth and quality are now returning NHL ready players.
Photo: Defenseman Jon Merrill had a strong rookie pro season in 2013-14, managing two goals and nine assists in 52 NHL games. (courtesy of Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
Thanks to a few rookies stepping up last season, the New Jersey Devils feel comfortable to trust their prospects with bigger roles going forward. The change has already started on the blue line, but the transition with forwards might take a while.