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: 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.
Photo: Defenseman Steve Santini is one of several strong defensive prospects in the New Jersey Devils system. Santini was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Richard T. Gagnon/Getty Images)
Stacked with 12 shootout loses and inconsistent play throughout the year, the New Jersey Devils missed the playoffs for the third time in four years. Once more, scoring was the culprit as the Devils failed to finish off their opponents when they had to in regulation.
Photo: Defenseman Jon Merrill continues to be the top prospect for the New Jersey Devils. Merrill was selected in the second round of the 2010 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Rich Graessle/Icon SMI)
Whether or not the New Jersey Devils reach the postseason, management can be satisfied with the NHL-ready talent waiting in the wings. Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill have shown they can become impactful blueliners, as has the recently re-acquired Alexander Urbom.