The Devils were an all but forgotten team in the Atlantic heading into last season, but hung tough all year and finished sixth in the Eastern Conference.
And that's when the real fun started. New Jersey knocked off the Panthers, Flyers, and Rangers to reach the Stanley Cup Final before falling to the Los Angeles Kings.
The summer was not nearly as kind to the Devils, however. With ownership questions still prevalent, New Jersey lost top forward Zach Parise to an exorbitant free agent deal.
The question in Jersey now is how to replace Parise's productivity and leadership and whether they can do it before the window closes on their veterans - namely goalie Martin Brodeur.
The Devils are known for their conservative playing style, which is why it's no surprise their pipeline is full of defencemen. Jon Merrill and Alexander Urbom, big stay-at-home types, are two defenders that could be NHL-ready sooner than later.
New Jersey did pick up a forward they have high hopes for in the draft in Stefan Matteau, son of former NHLer Stephane Matteau. The younger Matteau – already signed to his three-year entry-level deal - reportedly plays a lot like his dad but is still at least a year or two away from being NHL-ready.
The Devils also have a notable group of goalies throughout their system, preparing themselves for when Brodeur finally retires. Names like Scott Wedgewood, Keith Kinkaid, and Jeff Frazee will compete to have the tough task of filling the future Hall of Famer's pads one day.
Blake Pietila (a 2011 fifth-rounder) was the team's lone representative at the 2013 World Juniors, winning gold with the American squad.
There's no real star among the Devils' defensive corps but instead, a solid six-man unit that ranks among some of the best in the league. New Jersey averaged 2.5 goals against per game last year (tied for eighth in the league) and returns with their top six defencemen for the new season. If 2011 fourth-overall pick Adam Larsson can make a leap in his second year, the Devils will be even better off.
This one's easy. The loss of Parise creates a big hole offensively for New Jersey. The Devils didn't sign anyone new to replace the 27-year-old winger so even more will be needed from players like Ilya Kovalchuk and Adam Henrique to make up for the 30-plus goals the team lost. Kovalchuk had a solid season last year and Henrique was terrific as a rookie, but you have to wonder if they can up their game yet another level this season to fill the void.
A look at where Devils players went during the lockout:
Bobby Butler (Albany, AHL), David Clarkson (EC Salzburg, Austria – short), Stephen Gionta (Albany, AHL), Adam Henrique (Albany, AHL), Jacob Josefson (Albany, AHL), Ilya Kovalchuk (SKA St. Petersburg, KHL), Adam Larsson (Albany, AHL), Tim Sestito (Albany, AHL), Mattias Tedenby (Albany, AHL), Anton Volchenkov (Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod, KHL), Marek Zidlicky (Kladno, Czech League)