The 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs have been exciting to watch for any hockey fan. If you’re a New Jersey Devils fan you most likely still feel empty inside watching other teams. The Devils have won 3 cups since they came to New Jersey in 1982.
There is always discussion on which cup team was the best. Each team from 95, 00 and 03 receive votes, but popular opinion is the 2000 cup team. There was something special about that group. with the 20 year anniversary of that season coming up, let’s take a look at what the team could look like with players from the 99-00 season and present. I’ve split this past year’s team and the 2000 team to come up with 15 offensive players that could pair nicely on a line.
(LW Patrik Elias 72GP, 72P- C Scott Gomez 82GP, 70P- RW Jason Arnott 76GP, 56P)
These three Devils are all on the top line in this article for reason, stats for their season all speak for themselves. Patrik Elias had a great season with 35 goals and 37 assists over 72 games. While only scoring 19 goals that season, Scott Gomez played all 82 games and tallied 51 assists, more than any other player that season. At 6’5 220lbs Jason Arnott could add size to the top line while still contributing offensively. During the 1999-2000 season, Arnott played 76 games and totaled 56 points between 22 goals and 34 assists. A big reason you see Elias and Arnott on the same line here is the cup clinching goal by Jason Arnott which was made possible from a precise pass by Patrik Elias. You add this top line together with stats from 2000…..198 points.
(LW Taylor Hall 33GP, 37P – C Nico Hischier 69GP, 47P – RW Petr Sykora 79GP, 68P)
Without a doubt, Petr Sykora could be on the top line with Elias and Gomez. With that being said, thoughts of what this second line could accomplish are pretty exciting. All three of these players have the ability to pass, shoot and score. In addition, each of these players has a bit of speed which would help them create openings and opportunities in front of the net. Hall recorded 37 points in only 33 games played this past season. Nico Hischier stepped up with Hall’s absence and was able to tally 17 goals and 3o assists. Let’s face it, the team he was working with was stricken by injuries and had some other players been on the roster, numbers could’ve been a bit higher. Sykora scored the second most goals during the 99-00 season with 25, finishing behind the one and only Patrik Elias. Putting these three on a line together when none of them played a full season…..152 points.
(LW John Madden 74GP, 25P – C Travis Zajac 80GP, 46P – RW Kyle Palmieri 74GP, 50P)
This line is made possible by Travis Zajac. Winning 58.2% of even strength face-offs, Zajac possesses the skill and intelligence to not only win the faceoff but to get the puck where it needs to go. Having a winger on each side with the scoring capability of John Madden and Kyle Palmieri just puts the icing on the cake. John Madden had 16 goals during the season. Its a low number compared to stats today, however, he scored the second most goals among the Devils left wingers. The only left wing to score more, once again, Patty Elias. Another player that succeeded during Taylor Halls injury was Kyle Palmieri. Missing some time due to an injury of his own Palms played 74 games and recorded 27 goals with 23 assists. Once again the team was hurt and the numbers may have been a bit higher if the right players were around. Totaling 121 points together, you may not consider this an all-star line but its definitely a line full of smart and productive hockey.
(RW Blake Coleman 78GP, 36P – C Bobby Holik 79GP, 46P – RW Jesper Bratt 51GP, 33P)
The 4th line has always been a spot where guys may not be most productive, but they want to be there and have high energy. Jesper Bratt doesn’t necessarily belong on the 4th line, but with this fictional team, its the best spot for him. Bratt is a smart young hockey player and even though only scoring 8 goals last season, still managed 25 assists. In addition to his smart hockey ability, he has a speed which is a plus in any lineup. Holik and Coleman are exactly where they belong in this lineup. Each of them has the offensive ability to contribute some point production but more importantly, knows how to be physical and stand up for teammates when needed. Coleman had a productive season last year that made fans happy and noticeably making him more popular. Bobby Holik was a fan favorite among fans during his time in New Jersey. He was an important piece of the puzzle, he wasn’t going to score 50 goals in a season, but he was going to get the job done no matter what he was tasked with. Putting these three together…..115 points.
( Miles Wood 63GP, 24P – Pavel Zacha 61Gp, 25P Sergei Brylin 64GP, 20P)
Miles Wood could fit in as an extra if Coleman or Holik happen to be taken out of the lineup. Zacha, fans just don’t want to give up on him. After the all-star break and towards the end of the season he showed a glimmer of his skill and what he can potentially do, he deserves at least an extra spot on this lineup.
Brylin is a solid player but had the least amount of productivity. Extra would be a great role for him on this team.
This article was based on the right players fitting with the right players, not the best players. Next week I’ll continue this article and get into the defense and goaltender pairings.