While the New Jersey Devils are having a roller coaster season, their minor league affiliate, the Albany Devils, are the surprise team of the AHL. Part of the reason is the play from their rookie class, featuring some of the franchises top prospects, including Jon Merrill, Reid Boucher, and Stefan Matteau.
General Manager Lou Lamoriello has done a good job of restocking the lackluster New Jersey Devils farm system over the past six years. The junior and college ranks have produced talented prospects of all skill levels that fit the Devils mold. Now their minor league affiliate is reaping the benefits of this youth movement.
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.
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.