We'll be doing a weekly mailbag article each week during the season, so if you have a question or comment, feel free to tweet us @SNYDevils or tweet Dave and Jeff directly @DevilsInsiders.
Jake Wakely - @NJDFan4Life - "Is it too big to say he (Gelinas) is like Shea Weber, that's what he was compared to when he was drafted?"
(Dave) Though Eric Gelinas has a lot of potential, I think there is a big difference between being very good, and being Shea Weber. Weber is one of the best defensemen in the entire league. He hits, he's positionally sound, and he's a monster on the power play.
I believe that Gelinas will turn into a very serviceable NHL player, who will see a lot of minutes once his defensive game becomes more polished. The young blueliner showed what he can do with his shot in the preseason game against the Rangers. It seems like a bit much to compare him to Weber, but he has the potential to be a highly productive offensive defenseman that might top out with 45-point ability out of the back end.
Jonathan Harpula - @Statpula - Can our "interchangeable" forwards score enough for a playoff run? Will loss of Ilya = a Ewing-theory type revival?
(Dave) I love the Ewing theory reference. For those of you who don't know, the Ewing theory is the idea that even though Patrick Ewing was a sensational player both with Georgetown and the New York Knicks, his team somehow always managed to play better when he was off the court.
This is a team without a big-time scorer. There isn't anyone on this roster who can give you 40 goals, it's just not going to happen. With that being said, I think this team will have four lines that are capable of scoring. The additions of Michael Ryder, Ryane Clowe, Jaromir Jagr and Damien Brunner (if he makes the team) will definitely provide offense.
Realistically, this team will not be in the top half of the league in scoring, but I think that somewhere in the 16-20 range in goals scored is realistic. Though they lost Ilya Kovalchuk and David Clarkson, they replaced their 26 combined goals with 47 combined goals from the aforementioned offseason acquisitions. Of course, you can't go comparing numbers as if they're the end-all be-all, but at the very least, this a deeper team than they were last year.
Jonathan Harpula - @Starpula - Is Brunner the perfect signing to give Jagr and Elias periodic rests?
Travis Coolidge - @TimOconnor11 - Does Brunner make the team ?
I do think that Damien Brunner will make the team. He has the speed and playmaking ability to warrant a spot. Unless he really struggles in the preseason games, or they come to an impasse with a contract, Brunner should be a Devil in 2013-2014.
Brunner would be a great signing because he was a guy on pace to score approximately 20 goals last season over an 82-game span. The way the Devils are currently constructed, I'm not sure we know enough about the offense where Pete DeBoer will have the luxury of sitting Jagr or Elias just to get them a breather. If Henrique and Zajac continue their struggles into this year, PDB can't afford to have his most experienced and productive guys watching from the stands.
Pat Kelly - Who do you see being the top 3 shootout players for the devils since Kovy and Clarkson are both gone? I see it being Elias, Henique, and Ryder?
(Dave) That's a great question. The Devils squandered so many points in the shootout last season, so it's an area that they have to be better at if they expect to push for a playoff spot.
I would think that Elias is a lock, but after that, things get cloudy. Damien Brunner has the highest percentage on the team, scoring twice in seven attempts. Looking at the statistics, this is an area where the Devils may struggle. They MUST be better in the shootout this year, there are too many important points at stake.
If I had to pick a shootout lineup right now, I'd go Elias, Zajac and Jagr, based on their stats and what i've seen from them. Zajac has a deceptively strong shot and Jagr is a wily veteran who can still get a goalie to bite on a fake.
Here are the statistics for current Devils during the shootout in 2012-2013:
Damien Brunner: 2 for 7 - 28.6%
Travis Zajac: 1 for 4 - 25%
Patrik Elias: 2 for 8 - 25%
Jaromir Jagr: 2 for 9 - 22.2%
Ryane Clowe: 0 for 3 - 0%
Adam Henrique: 0 for 2 - 0%
Andrei Loktionov: 0 for 1 - 0%
Michael Ryder: 0 for 1 - 0%
We received quite a few questions about the Carter-Gionta-Bernier line. With the amount of players fighting for roster spots, there is a chance that the line might be broken up.
Fabio Torres - @fabio_torres - With all the new players and young guns wanting a spot in the lineup, is the CBGB line on borrowed time?
Avid Devils Fan - @NJDMCP - Would you break up the CBGB line or scratch Josefson?
Jon Bouchard -You know I love Stephen Gionta- with the upswing of young talent for NJ (Boucher, Tedenby, Cislo, Zajac) and the addition of potentially strong offensive additions (Olesz)... is his job in jeopardy? Is someone else's from CBGB?
Great question, guys. Personally, I'd break up the CBGB line to start the season. I'd put Jacob Josefson between Carter and Bernier. Lou Lamoriello and Pete DeBoer need to make one final evaluation of Josefson. Gionta is a known commodity at this point; he's going to grind and hustle. He probably will get 8-10 goals at year at best. I'm not sure the Devils know what Josefson can be yet. While healthy last year, he logged the most PK time for any forward. He's responsible in his own zone and has a good hockey sense. The offense just hasn't come consistently. The Devils need to give him one last shot to squeeze whatever talent he has in him and try to salvage their first round draft pick from 2009.
It's easier to forget he's only 22 still, despite playing during the course of three seasons. It wouldn't shock me if Gionta starts the season with the big club, comes in for Josefson 15 games into the season or 40 or maybe he even stays in the minors the whole year. I think Josefson should take Gionta's spot not because Josefson is a better player; he's not, Gionta has proved more valuable than him over the last two seasons. The reason Josefson should replace him is that the Devils still not what he can be and if he reaches somewhere close to that first round pick he is, he's more valuable than Gionta.