Welcome to the NHL FanHouse 2008-09 season preview. While other sites are previewing "30 teams in 30 days," we decided to take advantage of the extra time off before the start of the season to bring you all 30 previews over the next three weeks. We're counting down in reverse order of finish from last season in each conference every weekday from now until October 3. Look for an Eastern Conference preview every morning and a Western Conference preview every afternoon. Click here to read them all.
Who's In: Brian Rolston, Bobby Holik
Who's Out: Vitaly Vishnevski, Sergei Brylin, Arron Asham, New York's Sean Avery signed in Dallas (probably worth mentioning)
What's Changed: Not a whole lot has changed in New Jersey, although it was interesting to see Lou Lamoriello open up the wallet during the off-season. The Devils brought back both Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik this summer in an effort to turn the clock back to 2000 (can Ken Daneyko and Scott Stevens be far behind?). Sources tell me that later this week Lou will unveil his plans to build a time machine in the basement of the Prudential Center. Actually the reasoning behind the signings was more than likely to, you know, improve the team but it's fun to imagine what schemes Lou is thinking up.
The team had a heck of a season last year, when most people were picking them to take a step back. Despite being in a tough division, the Devils managed 99 points and the third most points in the conference. They also managed to lose to the Islanders and Rangers a total of 13 times last year, which doesn't make any sense at all considering they only lost to the rest of the NHL 16 times. Obviously, they're going to have to focus a bit more on their tri-state area rivalry games.
The Devils are going into this season about the same they went in last year, except this time no one is sleeping on them. Despite a defense that leaves a bit to be desired, they still have Marty Brodeur and as long as they have him and he isn't aging horribly, you can't leave the Devils out. I apologize, because you're going to hear that line about a million times this year, and you've probably heard it a million times already. But it's true. He's still the best player on the team and posted a 2.17 GAA and .920 SPCT last season. Pretty sick numbers, to be sure. Oh and he's 36, which in goaltender years is almost unheard of. A few more years and the shelter is going to have to put him down for his own good.
Who's on the Hook: It's pretty safe to say that at this point Lou Lamoriello's job is safe. And it's also safe to say that with Lou at the helm, no coach is ever safe. For that reason alone, I put Brent Sutter on the hook. Not because he's a bad coach -- he isn't -- but because Lou is in charge.
Where They'll Finish: This team is every bit as capable to go the distance as last year's version was. Look for them to challenge for the division title or even the conference if some other big teams falter. Hopefully the post-season let down last year doesn't weigh too heavy on them and they find a way to beat the Rangers and Islanders.