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Pavel Zacha and the depth of the New Jersey Devils

With the autumnal equinox coming upon the new NHL season. One of the burning questions before training camp is “Will Patrik Elias play again? The other happens to be “what to expect from Pavel Zacha after his hip pointer recovery?”

On behalf of Patrik Elias it seems with the passing of each calendar day my assumption is he might be brought back as a mentor for Pavel Zacha. It would be super beneficial for a Devils franchise leading points man to be around Pavel for the next season or two. If I was in Patrik’s situation and Ray Shero asked me to do this job I’d be honored to help invest my own time and raise Zacha.

When Pavel comes back healthy for preseason hockey I feel as long as his hip pointer is fine then it would be great to see him start playing on a bottom 6 pairing to relieve him of too much pressure upon him. What stands out to me is after an astonishing season in Sarnia where Pavel nearly doubled his goals and doubled his assists. The idea that fans need to notice is that he’s a big boy.

The strengths: Size, speed, skating, hockey IQ, puck handling are all great traits of his game. From when I first watched him in 2015 4 months before the draft was that he reminded me of Eric Staal, Rick Nash, Joe Thornton playing style, the size reminded me of Jaromir Jagr because he’s such a big guy at the age of 19.

The weakness: Penalty Minutes, and the hip injury. There is plenty of time for Pavel to get healthy, and when he does get healthy there are times where he can be so aggressive that his PIM’s went up 1.73% the past season with Sarnia from 56-97.

The works: My out take is that head coach John Hynes, and assistant coach Ryane Clowe will be ironing out Pavel with his aggression to use it for playing smarter defensively, and taking less trips to the penalty box. But after that last game versus the Toronto Maple Leafs I am a real big fan of Zacha with Devante Smith-Pelly where that line scored together because both guys are super strong, and create traffic down low.

If all goes accordingly and Pavel happens to have a real great chemistry with Henrique, Hall, Palmieri, DSP, Cammalleri, and Beau Bennett building depth and chemistry throughout the lineup I can see the Devils rolling 3 lines that can contribute at least a point.

Michael Cammalleri is an interesting player to watch because of the fact he’s a sniper and he likes to play more isolated near the point. But what concerned me last year that the time on ice he had I felt wore him down a lot now that he’s an older veteran player. But after the Taylor Hall, Beau Bennett, DSP trades Ray Shero made over time I feel will preserve Michael’s games played, and I want to see him play in more games away from the injury bug.

After all these assumptions I feel this Devils team is an 8th-7th seed at this time since the Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson trade. As of now 90-92 points seems appropriate but anything can change due to injuries, trades etc. At worst I can see worst as 18th overall in the draft before the NHL Lottery Draft of 2017 with 85 points.

Joseph Stanislau
Joe writes about the New Jersey Devils.
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