Part 1 of this article discussed what potential offensive lines could look like if the 99-00 Devils team and the 18-19 Devils team were to merge.
This article will focus on the defense and goaltenders.
Defensive Pairing #1
Scott Stevens 78GP, 29P – Scott Niedermayer 71GP, 38P
It was obvious that pairing #1 would start off with two Hall of Fame D-men. Devils fans who are old enough to remember the 1999-2000 roster already saw what this duo could accomplish. Plenty of coaches admitted going up against this pair was never an easy task. Each of these players had hockey smarts and were able to add size to the game as well. Arguably one of the best defensive pairings ever, Stevens and Niedermayer easily get the top spot on this team. Between the two, they total 67 points.
Defensive Pairing #2
Brian Rafalski 75GP, 32P – Damon Severson 82GP, 39P
Coming off the best season of his 5-year career, Damon Severson slides onto the second pairing. Severson played all 82 games this past season totaling for 39 points between 11 goals and 28 assists. In addition, he had a career-high 87 blocked shots. The 1999-2000 season was the first season for Brian Rafalski. During that season Rafalski tallied 5 goals, 27 assists, and 32 points. Each of these defensemen shows the ability to perform offensively, and defensively. Playing smart two-way hockey makes this second pairing successful, finishing with a total of 71 points.
Defensive Pairing #3
Will Butcher 78GP, 30P – Sami Vatanen 50GP, 17P
This past season Will Butcher had what some people may call a “sophomore slump” tallying only 30 points, compared to his rookie year of 44 points. That being so, Butcher still finished 2nd in points among defensemen and earned himself a spot on this roster, with his smart playing ability. Missing 32 games last season, Sami Vatanen only reached 17 points. Vatanen is an excellent skater and has a smart hockey sense. He’s also shown he can be useful on the power play. Pairing these two together based on their season…47 points.
Andy Greene 82Gp, 25P – Ken Daneyko 78GP, 6P
This will be one of the most unpopular opinions probably in Devils history. Andy Greene tallied 25 points last year, which was more than Vatanen. However…Sami Vatanen had 32 fewer games than Andy Greene and only finished with 8 fewer points. Mr. Devil himself Ken Daneyko has shown he is a New Jersey Devil through and through. Although proven to be a physical force on the ice, that’s not the type of d-man we’re seeing in the league nowadays. Ken Daneyko stays on the roster as an extra and will make an appearance in select games against division rivals and fill in for injuries.
It goes without saying that Martin Brodeur would be the starter on this roster. His talents and achievements don’t even have to be explained in this article if you’re a Devils fan you’re aware. The bigger question in this spot is the backup. Naturally, a lot of fans may point to Mackenzie Blackwood, a young goalie who came into New Jersey last year starting 21 games and finishing the year with a record of 10-10 and a 2.61GAA.
Although the team wasn’t perfect around him and some games were lost due to lack of Devils scoring ability, it’s impossible to believe that Blackwood is the go-to guy at this point. With that being said the backup position goes to Cory Schneider. Schneider most definitely had a season he’d like to forget, but once he got those first wins, things started to fall into place for him.
This article was written to have some fun during the offseason and dream about what a team could look like if the two teams merged.
Here is the opening night roster.
Stevens – Niedermayer
Rafalski – Severson