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Fantasy Puck Preview: New Jersey Devils

Scott Cullen
9/18/2008 3:39:52 PM
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Brent Sutter may be a terrific head coach, but his defensive mindset isn't particularly beneficial to the Devils when it comes to fantasy appeal.

Not surprisingly, the best of the Devils is goaltender Martin Brodeur who, even at 36, reigns as the top goaltender because of his durability and strong defensive team. Brodeur hasn't won fewer than 38 games in a season in more than a decade and has topped 43 wins for each of the last three years.

In the forward ranks, rising star Zach Parise is durable and keeps improving, but his ceiling is held in check by New Jersey's defensive focus.

Veteran Patrik Elias had a rough start under the Sutter regime, but he found his form later in the season and should be up for a bit of an improvement this year.

The return of Brian Rolston also figures to help the Devils offensively, as Rolston used his big shot to rack up more than 30 goals with Minnesota in each of the last three seasons. Rolston's presence should bolster the Devils' power play, so that is reason enough to have higher hopes for Parise and Elias.

Tiny Brian Gionta didn't fit in ideally with Sutter's style, either, and he's now plummeted from 48 goals in 2005-2006 to just 22 last season. Gionta scores enough to warrant fantasy interest, but it has to be at the right price.

Jamie Langenbrunner has been a solid complementary scorer in New Jersey and still has some value, but his poor second half last year should suggest using caution when forecasting his season.

Dainius Zubrus seems totally mismatched to the Devils' style of play and last year's 38 points was well down from the 57 and 60 points he scored in the first two seasons after the lockout.

Part of the reason that New Jersey's skilled guys don't get as much ice is that Sutter loves the two-way work of John Madden and Jay Pandolfo. Madden may have value in the deepest of scoring leagues, but his lack of penalty minutes and power play points limits his wide-ranging fantasy appeal.

On the blueline, Paul Martin is a solid, if not spectacular, option. His penalty minute totals are low, but he does get some power play time and is the best the Devils have right now.

A strong finish last year (13 points, plus-17 in 33 games after the All-Star break) has also given Johnny Oduya a chance to contribute in fantasy hockey. He's not a high-end option, but to fill out the roster, he may be worth consideration.

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