The New Jersey Devils missed the playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons, though those seasons were sandwiched around an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. Off-Season Game Plan looks at a Devils team that needs to get younger and add more skill if they are going to be a perennial playoff team, like they were for the 13 seasons prior to the last three. When making decisions this summer, GM Lou Lamoriello may be inclined to try to keep a lot of familiar faces for one last go in the Martin Brodeur era. After losing Zach Parise as a high-profile free agent last summer, the Devils have to contend with Patrik Elias and David Clarkson (among others) being two of the more attractive free agents in a relatively thin market and with eight unrestricted free agents overall, there is the opportunity for some serious roster turnover. At the same time, filling out a roster with a smattering of free agents from around the league isnt an easy task, just as it may not be easy to keep Clarkson, a 29-year-old who will be widely sought-after for his combination of goal-scoring and toughness. Lamoriello is in a tough spot (its his own doing, but thats the situation in which he finds himself). Aside from Elias and Clarkson, the Devils top returning scorers (including RFAs) are Ilya Kovalchuk, a 30-year-old coming off one of his worst seasons, and centres Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique, who had 20 and 16 points, respectively (defenceman Andy Greene also had 16 points). For the record, 16 points in 48 games is the equivalent of 27 points in and 82-game season, and the Devils are currently looking at a roster with three forwards and one defenceman that met that low threshold last season. That suggests its time for major changes in New Jersey, the kind that might take another year or two of suffering before a re-modeled Devils squad is really ready to resume their place as a contender. The TSN.ca Rating is an efficiency rating based on per-game statistics including goals and assists -- weighted for strength (ie. power play, even, shorthanded) -- plus-minus, hits, blocked shots, giveaways, takeaways, penalty differential and faceoffs. (Stats are listed in this format: G-A-PTS, +/-, PIM, GP). Generally, a replacement-level player is around a 60, a top six forward and top four defenceman will be 70-plus, stars will be over 80 and MVP candidates could go over 90. Sidney Crosby finished at the top of the 2013 regular season ratings with a 93.65. Salary cap information all comes from the indispensable www.capgeek.com. GM/COACH Lou Lamoriello/Peter DeBoer Returning Forwards Player Rating GP G A PTS +/- Cap Hit Ilya Kovalchuk 71.98 37 11 20 31 -6 $6.667M Travis Zajac 63.00 48 7 13 20 -5 $5.75M Ryan Carter 61.65 44 6 9 15 -2 $775K Steve Bernier 60.54 47 8 7 15 -7 $775K Stephen Gionta 60.19 48 4 10 14 +2 $563K Krystofer Barch 50.31 22 0 0 0 +1 $750K Free Agent Forwards Player Rating GP G A PTS +/- Class 12-13 Cap Hit Patrik Elias 70.58 48 14 22 36 +5 UFA $6.0M David Clarkson 67.97 48 15 9 24 -6 UFA $2.667M Andrei Loktionov 64.40 28 8 4 12 -2 RFA $817K Adam Henrique 64.33 42 11 5 16 -3 RFA $854K Dainius Zubrus 61.12 22 2 7 9 -3 UFA $3.4M Steve Sullivan 59.60 42 7 10 17 -12 UFA $2.6M Alexei Ponikarovsky 57.75 42 4 5 9 -1 UFA $1.8M Matt DAgostini 56.43 29 3 3 6 -5 RFA $1.65M Tom Kostopoulos 54.00 15 1 0 1 0 UFA $600K Jacob Josefson 52.94 22 1 2 3 -10 RFA $900K Devils Forwards Usage Chart from somekindofninja.com For better or worse, the Devils cast their lost with Ilya Kovalchuk and the results have been so-so -- 89 goals, 201 points, minus-32 in 222 games with New Jersey -- so far. Hes 30-years-old, missed 11 games last year due to a shoulder injury, and his 0.84 points per game in 2013 was his second-lowest in the last 11 seasons. At the same time, Kovalchuk could use help. His cast of linemates last season wasnt ideal for bringing out the best production in a player who can still fire the puck like few others. Despite solid puck possession numbers Travis Zajac struggled to 20 points in 48 games. Hes a solid two-way player and, given his track record, Zajac should be able to produce more. In a shortened season, checking centre Ryan Carter earned a career-high 15 points while playing a career-high 13:03 per game. Hes an honest player with limited upside. Prior to the start of the 2013 season, 29-year-old Stephen Gionta had played 13 regular season games, and 24 playoff games, in his NHL career. Like Carter, he played more than 13 minutes per game last season and its fair to question whether the offensively-challenged Devils might have been forced to rely too much on the fourth line that had contributed to their run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012. The third member of that trio, Steve Bernier, has a little more offensive upside, having five double-digit goal seasons in his career, and can be a physical presence on the forecheck. Enforcer Krystofer Barch is a part-timer, playing fewer than six minutes in 22 of 48 games last season, scrapping half a dozen times when the Devils need a heavyweight. The Devils did make a savvy pickup last season, acquiring Andrei Loktionov from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a fifth-round pick. Loktionov needs to get stronger, but he has potential thanks to puck possession skills and he chipped in 11 points in his first 18 games with the Devils before slumping late. Adam Henrique surprised a little with his offensive production in 2011-2012, but there was a dramatic difference in his playmaking success in 2013, when he managed three even-strength assists in 42 games. Henrique plays a sound two-way game, but for the ice time he gets, he needs to produce more offence than he did last season. Only a couple of years ago, Matt DAgostini scored 21 goals and 46 points for St. Louis, but had just three goals and six points in 29 games last season. Unless he willingly takes a paycut, its difficult to fathom that he would get a qualifying offer at his current pay. A first-round pick in 2009, Jacob Josefson has been coming along slowly, putting up 22 points in 91 games over the last three seasons. He doesnt figure to be a big scorer, but could be a solid two-way pivot. At least thats the hope. The Devils face the prospect that they could lose two significant unrestricted free agents this summer. Patrik Elias, the 37-year-old who has played 1252 games (regular sesaon and playoffs) for New Jersey, was still the teams leading scorer in 2013 and David Clarkson, a feisty winger who has 45 goals over the past two seasons, could both go to the highest bidder on the open market. Obviously, losing both Elias and Clarkson would create major holes but, even if they stay, the Devils have some spots to fill up front. On the plus side, the Devils have plenty of cap room available to address those needs. That can make them a player for significant free agents, including wingers Nathan Horton, Michael Ryder, Pascal Dupuis or Pierre-Marc Bouchard. They could have the cap room to go after the likes of Jarome Iginla, but this isnt a roster that should be spending significant money on free agents in their mid-30s. Returning Defence Player Rating GP G A PTS +/- Cap Hit Andy Greene 70.94 48 4 12 16 +12 $3.0M Mark Fayne 65.78 31 1 5 6 +6 $1.3M Adam Larsson 63.55 37 0 6 6 +4 $925K Anton Volchenkov 63.07 37 1 4 5 -1 $4.25M Henrik Tallinder 62.32 25 1 3 4 0 $3.375M Bryce Salvador 58.75 39 0 2 2 -12 $3.167M Free Agent Defence Player Rating GP G A PTS +/- Class 12-13 Cap Hit Marek Zidlicky 67.27 48 4 15 19 -12 UFA $4.0M Peter Harrold 62.50 23 2 3 5 -8 UFA $525K Devils Defence Usage Chart from somekindofninja.com Andy Greene enjoyed a strong season on a Devils team that wasnt particularly strong as a whole. Greene logged more than 23 minutes per game for the second time in his career, had strong possession stats, and was a team-best plus-12. Hes undersized, but a good, professional defenceman. Its probably not ideal if hes the teams best defenceman. While Mark Fayne has good size (6-foot-3, 215 pounds), he could use it more effectively, perhaps playing with a little more bite. However, he was quite effective when he got into the lineup last season, so maybe at the very least hes re-established his place as an everyday part of the defensive rotation. The fourth overall pick in 2011, Adam Larsson has had a hard time breaking into the lineup. He played 18:06 per game in 2013, down two-and-a-half minutes from his rookie season, and he was a healthy scratch for 11 games. Hes still just 20-year-old and has the size and skills to be a prominent part of the Devils defence, but it hasnt been the smoothest transition. Next year should be a significant season for his development. It wasnt so long ago that Anton Volchenkov was among the top blueliners in hits and blocked shots on an annual basis, but that hasnt been the case in New Jersey. On one hand that could be because the Devils have had some good puck possession numbers, including in 2013 believe it or not, but its also indicative of Volchenkovs decreasing role. He played just 16:03 per game last season, his lowest time on ice since 2003-2004, and a far cry from the days he was playing more than 20 minutes per game in Ottawa. Leg troubles have been an issue for Henrik Tallinder over the last couple seasons, and hes played just 64 of a possible 130 games as a result. Tallinders ice time was down, to a career-low 17:34 per game, but he was effective in that limited role. If hes healthy, he can be a useful contributor. Bryce Salvador was such a vital part of New Jerseys run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012 that its understandable the Devils invested in him. Then he played a career-high 21:20 per game as a 36-year-old and the results were less than ideal. He had such an impressive return in 2011-2012, after missing the entire 2010-2011 season, that a bounceback should be possible for the stay-at-home defenceman. The Devil have some prospects that could earn a look, especially if Marek Zidlicky departs as a free agent. Zidlicky has been the Devils best offensive defenceman, so if the 36-year-old does move on, that would leave a role to fill on the power play. Returning Goaltenders Player Rating GP W L OTL GAA SV% Cap Hit Martin Brodeur 68.38 29 13 9 7 2.22 .901 $4.5M Johan Hedberg 53.86 19 6 10 3 2.76 .883 $1.4M Theres no denying how great Martin Brodeurs career has been, and hes signed for another season so theres no point pretending that he wont be the Devils goaltender next year, but its worth considering that, over the last three years, the now 41-year-old has a .905 save percentage, ranking 29th out of 31 goalies (ahead of only Steve Mason and Mathieu Garon) that have played at least 100 games in that span. Considering that the Devils had strong possession stats and yet were on the outside looking in at the postseason, goaltending is one of the reasons for coming up short and, without improvement, it could pose a problem next season too. 40-year-old Johan Hedberg had been coming off a good three-year run prior to last season, but then he delivered a career-low .883 save percentage. The goaltending problem for the Devils wasnt just on Brodeur but, as the roster stands right now, they will go into next season with a pair of goalies on the wrong side of 40 coming off subpar seasons. Top Prospects Player Pos. Team/League Stats Jonathon Merrill D Michigan (CCHA) 2-9-11, +3, 21 GP Stefan Matteau LW Blainville-Boisbriand (QMJHL) 18-10-28, +19, 35 GP Damon Severson D Kelowna (WHL) 10-42-52, +43, 71 GP Alexander Urbom D Albany (AHL) 0-8-8, -3, 68 GP Eric Gelinas D Albany (AHL) 6-16-22, +1, 57 GP Reid Boucher LW Sarnia (OHL) 62-33-95, +13, 68 GP Harri Pesonen LW Albany (AHL) 14-17-31, +7, 64 GP Reece Scarlett D Swift Current (WHL) 9-40-49, +14, 67 GP Keith Kinkaid G Albany (AHL) 21-17-6, 2.72 GAA, .905 SV% Brandon Burlon D Albany (AHL) 1-16-17, +9, 53 GP It was a rocky road for Jonathon Merrill at Michigan, playing just 40 games over the last two seasons due to injuries and off-ice issues, but hes a big defenceman who can handle the puck and contribute on the power play. He had eights points (and a minus-8 rating) in a dozen games with Albany at the end of the season and has a chance to be a significant upgrade for New Jerseys defence. Given how little hes played the past couple years, some time in the AHL will due Merrill some good, but it could be tempting to bring him to a team that hasnt received much offence from the back end in recent seasons. The 29th overall pick last summer, Stefan Matteau made the Devils roster and played 17 games, scoring three points, with the big club before he was sent the QMJHL, where he didnt have an ideal finish to the campaign, quitting after he was benched for undisciplined play in the playoffs. Hes 19-years-old and certainly possesses the size and skill to be an NHL player, so it may just take some time and maturity before hes ready to make his mark. A second-round pick last summer, Damon Severson finished a strong season in the WHL, with Kelowna before playing a couple games (and recording a couple points) with Albany. Hes 18-year-old and there are several on the depth chart ahead of him, but a few years from now, Severson could be a really nice piece on the Devils blueline. 6-foot-5 blueliner Alexander Urbom has three seasons of AHL development and has played 14 games with the Devils, yet is still just 22. He should contend for a job in New Jersey next season. A 6-foot-4 defenceman with offensive skill, Eric Gelinas can still use some work on his game without the puck, but the 22-year-old is making progress and saw his first NHL action last season. His bit shot from the point could be an asset to New Jerseys power play, but if Gelinas doesnt make the team right out of camp, he is a prime candidate to fill in for injuries. There are lots of things that 19-year-old Reid Boucher can work on as he embarks on his pro career, but his calling card already is his ability to shoot the puck and his knack around the net. He scored 62 goals in 68 games for Sarnia and added three goals and five points in 11 games with Albany in late-season AHL action. With a couple of years in the AHL, he could be one of New Jerseys better options up front. A solid winger who had modest scoring totals in his first AHL season, 24-year-old Harri Pesonen earned a four-game audition with New Jersey late in the year. If the Devils need depth up front, hes a prime candidate for a call-up. Drafted in the sixth round in 2011, Reece Scarlett has added more offence to his game in the two years since, scoring 98 points in 138 games. Hell need time to get stronger before hes ready to challenge for a spot. If goaltending is a problem at the NHL level, Keith Kinkaid may be the top in-house solution. The 23-year-old has good size and received the starters workload in the AHL, but he has a .905 save percentage in two AHL seasons; not exactly busting down the door for a spot in the NHL. Brandon Burlon was a second-round pick in 2008 and made some nice progress in his second AHL season. Hes a strong skater, but has plenty of competition among New Jerseys defence prospects. DRAFT 9th - Sean Monahan, Bo Horvat, Max Domi. FREE AGENCY According to www.capgeek.com, the Devils have approximately $38.2M committed to the 2013-2014 salary cap for 14 players. Check out my possible Devils lineup for next season on Cap Geek here. Needs: Four top nine forwards, two top four defencemen, goaltending. What I said the Devils needed last year: Three top nine forards, two top four defencemen, two goaltenders. They added: Stefan Matteau, Krystofer Barch. TRADE MARKET Jacob Josefson, Henrik Tallinder, defence prospects. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. Nike Air Max 1 Discount . 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CINCINNATI -- Andy Dalton is trying to get Jimmy Fallon to pay him a visit.The Cincinnati Bengals was on Fallons NFL Superlatives last week. Dalton led off the bit by joking that he was voted most likely to start in a new CW show called Ron Weasley: The College Years, a reference to Harry Potter characters red hair. Eight other NFL players followed Dalton as part of the taped bit.Dalton also was part of The Tonight Shhow last year and joked about his red hair as well.ddddddddddddAsked about it on Wednesday, Dalton lobbied for a visit. As he put it, Jimmy, if youre watching this, wed love to have you in Cincinnati.---Online: AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: www.twitter.com/AP-NFL ' ' '