- Jaromir Jagr
- Michael Ryder
- Ryane Clowe
- Cory Schneider
- Ilya Kovalchuk
- David Clarkson
The New Jersey Devils were dealt a blow in mid-July when star forward Ilya Kovalchuk announced his retirement from the NHL to return to his home country of Russia to continue his hockey career. Kovalchuk, 30, leaves a hole in the Devils’ offense that any team would have difficulty filling. While his production was down last season, Kovalchuk scored 30-plus goals in his two full seasons with the Devils. To make matters worse, the Devils will also lose a first-round pick in the 2014 draft due to a stipulation with the NHL when New Jersey signed the forward in 2010.
The Devils also lost forward David Clarkson, who signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 5. Clarkson scored 30 goals in 2011-12, and followed it up with a team-leading 15 goals in 48 games last season.
To help fill the void left by Kovalchuk, the Devils signed Jaromir Jagr and Michael Ryder, while the addition of Ryane Clowe should help aid in the toughness left by Clarkson. Jagr, 41, scored 35 points in 45 games last season with the Dallas Stars and Boston Bruins, but failed to register a goal in 22 postseason games. At this point in his career, Jagr still has skill but it would be a lot to ask him to fill the void left by Kovalchuk.
Ryder notched 35 points in 36 games with the Stars and Montreal Canadiens. The 33-year-old should be penciled onto the second or third line forward role on the right wing in New Jersey behind Jagr and Dainius Zubrus.
Clowe scored just three goals and 19 points in 40 games with the San Jose Sharks and Rangers. Clowe has a lot to prove after a down season and the five-year deal he signed with New Jersey, but could fit in nicely on a third line opposite Ryder and possibly Andrei Loktionov.
The biggest addition for New Jersey came at the NHL Draft — which coincidentally took place in Newark — when the Devils sent the No. 9 pick to Vancouver for goaltender Cory Schneider. The 27-year-old went 17-9-4 last season and ranked fourth in the NHL with a .927 save percentage, eighth with a 2.11 goals against average and first in shutouts with five. While Brodeur is nearly the end of his career, the Devils should have one of the best goaltending combinations in the NHL, and now have their No. 1 netminder for the foreseeable future.