Photo: Forward Reid Boucher is coming off a breakout season in the OHL, where he managed 62 goals in 68 games. (courtesy of Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Even prior to a wild and unpredictable 2013 off-season, the New Jersey Devils were going to see a lot of competition on their NHL roster from young prospects, most notably on defense, where the organization is deep and skilled. Despite the amount of veteran depth on paper in the organization, several forwards in the system could also fight their way into the NHL lineup.
Photo: Defenseman Steve Santini was the first player selected by the New Jersey Devils in the 2013 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)
As the hosts of the 2013 NHL Draft, the New Jersey Devils opened with a bang and closed on a touching note. With the team on the clock for their first round selection, Commissioner Gary Bettman arrived to the podium to announce that New Jersey had traded their first round pick to the Vancouver Canucks for goaltender Cory Schneider.
Photo: Defenseman Adam Larsson was selected 4th overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 2011 NHL Draft. (Rich Graessle/Icon SMI)
The New Jersey Devils started the lockout shortened 2012-13 season on fire. Following a home-and-home sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins in February, New Jersey sat atop of the Eastern Conference. Then the injuries started to take their toll. Without key contributors like Dainius Zubrus, Martin Brodeur and Ilya Kovalchuk, the team tumbled down the standings. An inability to score, combined with some terrible luck down the stretch, kept New Jersey out of the playoffs for a second time in three years.
Photo: Seth Helgeson was the only senior defenseman on the Minnesota Golden Gophers roster this season. Helgeson recently signed a two-year entry-level contract with the New Jersey Devils. (courtesy of Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images)
As the 2012-13 season comes to a close, it is time to hand out the end of the year awards for the New Jersey Devils prospects. While the NHL team struggled, many of their junior players performed very well for their respected clubs. What may be surprising are that most of the recipients are forwards. New Jersey features a healthy stock of quality defensemen, but lacks depth and talent up front. Still, the few standouts had terrific seasons that cannot be overlooked.
Photo: Defenseman Jon Merrill remains the top prospect for the New Jersey Devils. Merrill recently signed an NHL contract after playing three years at the University of Michigan. (courtesy of Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images)
An important summer approaches for the New Jersey Devils organization. With a plethora of free agents that may or may not be re-signed, the organization may give its minor league and junior prospects an opportunity to crack the NHL lineup.