Everyone in Devils-Land knew this year would be painful, but 3 wins in 43 games is hard to stomach, no matter how bad the roster. After #1 goalie Tim Thomas (and than Olaf Kolzig) were both traded early on in the season, the team has struggled to do anything except sit on the bench and watch other teams score. Rookie David Backes is leading the team in scoring with 25 points, while newcomer Danny Fristche is leading the team with 13 goals.
After that...well, it's a pretty embarassing year. Not much on the trade rumors front, as the team is mostly content to sit back and watch the young players develop. The only guys the team has actively shopped is veteran defenseman Adrian Aucoin and rental winger Jeff O'Neill. Neither have amounted much interest around the league.
The future is looking up, however, as the team is plumetting to a top 3 pick - most likely landing a highly touted prospect in Steven Stamkos, Drew Doughty or Alex Pieterangelo.
Even if the Devils do not draft one of them (say, if the team trades the pick at the draft-which is a possibility...unlikely but possible) the team will be very content to pick 3-5 of a dozen players in the first round. Guys like Filatov, Wilson, Schenn, Hayes and others all draw the teams interest and the team looks forward to next June. With 3 firsts in the upcoming draft, and 2 firsts in 2009 the team is definitely ready for the future.
Prospects from that draft will join Devils prospects like Karri Ramo, Brandon Dubinsky, Vladimir Sobotka, Jack Skille, Patrick Kane, Dustin Boyd, Bobby Ryan and Stefan Ruzicka - all of which are getting action in the NHL to some degree in the NHL this year. The future looks bright with a future #1 goalie in Ramo, future top six wingers in Ryan, Skille, Kane and Kobasew; as well as developing centers like Sobotka and Dubinsky. With Williams taking over center duties next year, he'll likely see more icetime on the first line with Fritsche behind him.
Many of the guys are just now getting their feet wet, and the Devils will have to be patient with their guys and not get discouraged to easily. Guys like Varlamov, Stralman, Kalus, Ellerby and Blunden are all young and some painful developmental times is expected.
The 07 draft for the Devils is looking up so far, with Kane providing instant offense and other prospects Ben Ryan, Teddy Ruth and Aaron Palushaj (who was traded for but the Devils wanted to pick him) have all had good starts to their Collegiate careers.