GM: Chris Legge (second GM in team’s history)
Coach Guy Boucher
Last season: 8th overall
Ins and Outs (Season 4 to Season 5)
Out: Zach Parise (trade), Ryan Suter (trade) Blake Wheeler (trade), Joe Corvo (free agent), Stephen Gionta (free agent), Tim Kennedy (free agent)
In: Patrick Marleau (free agent), Kevin Dallman (trade), Linus Klasen (draft), Olli Palola (draft),
In Place (Key players signed past Season 5)
Jordan Eberle, RW; Adam Henrique, C; Dan Girardi, D, John Carlson, D; Kevin Dallman, D; Marc-Edouard Vlasic, D
1. Can you explain the off-season changes Gothenburg made? The Devils improved 5 points and 4 places in Season 3, and then 13 more points and 3 more places in Season 4. They were definitely going in the right direction. But in the off-season, General Manager Chris Legge made some head-scratching moves. Maybe he is thinking like a good boxer or wrestler who knows that a step backwards can often set up a good attack. Ushered out of Gothenburg was some considerable talent and in return, the Devils acquired an established defenseman, Kevin Dallman, and two future pieces. Zach Parise, Blake Wheeler and Ryan Suter were three of the few minus players on the team last year, but they also contributed 82, 68 and 46 points, respectively. They were also expensive. In the two trades involving the three players, Legge freed up $13.8 million in salary. All three of the players Legge received in the trade will be in the lineup on opening day. Two of them, draft picks Linus Klasen and Olli Palola will be hidden as wingers on the fourth line with Chris Kelly. Dallman, however, has a major role on the team. The 28-year-old will be paired with Marc-Edouard Vlasic, also 28, on the second defense pair. He will also be on all four special team units. Why? Because he has proven he can play. In Moscow, Dallman scored 16 goals and 53 points last season. He is big, but he probably doesn’t use his size and strength to his full advantage. He doesn’t take many penalties, is fantastic with the puck and he doesn’t have many holes in his game.
2. Who is better, Eric Staal or Adam Henrique? Coach Guy Boucher has a good problem in that the team is loaded with talent at the top tiers of each position. That luxury comes at the expense of lesser quality at the bottom of the lineup, but those players won’t see much ice time anyway. For example, at defense, the team has Dan Girardi and John Carlson at the top, followed by Vlasic and Dallman. Those are four really good players. Beneath them are Mark Fraser and Alec Martinez who are OK, but there is a considerable drop-off at that point. Patrick Marleau was signed to give the team a high level left wing, where the Devils already had talented youngster Petr Vrana and Carl Hagelin. Hagelin worked really well last year with Adam Henrique and Jordan Eberle. So well, in fact, that the trio will start as the top line. In a sense, the three 25- to 27-year-olds pushed Eric Staal down a line and pushed Parise and Wheeler out the door. Staal is the team captain and he’s coming off a 101-point season, so he’s not going anywhere. And in Season 6, when he will be 32, he is likely to be signed to a contract that is a few million dollars less than the $8.25 million he’s earning today. Henrique … what can you say about him? The guy was basically the perfect hockey forward last season. He scored 100 points and led the league in plus-minus rating at plus 46. He was also voted as the league’s best defensive forward. Legge signed him to a 3-year contract at $3.86 million with a player option. That is such a bargain for Gothenburg that prosecutors are considering issuing a warrant for Legge’s arrest on grand larceny charges.
3. Where do they need help? Last season, Gothenburg was the league’s 11th best team at keeping opponents from getting shots on goal, but they were 6th best in goals against per game. That tells you they have a really good goalie in Pekka Rinne. He is capable of stealing a few games each season. In fact, he is the EURO’s all-time shutout leader with 25, putting him 5 shutouts ahead of the second place goalies on that list. Ideally, Gothenburg would help him by reducing their shots against average, but by trading away Ryan Suter, the odds are against that happening. Dallman is good, but not nearly as good defensively as Suter is. Vlasic and Carlson are probably a little better than they were last year, but Girardi, at age 31, probably isn’t.
Season Place PTS PP % PK % SPG SAPG GPG GAPG PIM
Season 4 8 104 18.6 79.4 29.73 29.84 3.56 2.87 8.06
Season 3 11 91 18.9 83.4 28.96 30.91 3.41 3.46 10.98
Season 2 15 86 17.4 84.6 30.12 30.93 3.44 3.50 11.02
Season 1 14 88 17.4 86.6 30.74 28.65 3.26 3.13 7.95
Top Draft picks
Season 1: Adam Henrique, C, current age 25. Games played: 315; points: 311; -30
Season 2: Petr Vrana, LW, age 24. GP 237, Pts 99; +28
Season 3: Beau Bennett, RW, age 23. GP 120, Pts 21; +1
Season 4: none
Season 5: Linus Klasen, LW, age 21.
Traded Sam Gagner, 2014 Round 1 pick (traded later) (used to draft Jonathan Drouin) and 2015 Round 2 pick (David Savard) to Stockholm for Eric Staal
* missing one trade, probably in this period.
Traded Milan Lucic, 2016 Round 1 pick and 2017 Round 1 pick to Minsk for Zach Parise
Traded Devante Smith-Pelly, Ales Hemsky and 2016 Round 2 pick to St. Petersburg for Martin St. Louis
Traded 2015 Round 1 pick (Dan Dekeyser) and 2015 Round 3 pick (Alex Tuch) to Milan for Antti Niemi
Traded Morgan Rielly, Eric Gelinas and 2017 Round 2 pick to Oslo for Ryan Suter
Traded Martin St. Louis, Antti Niemi, Erik Johnson, Scott Harrington, Zack Phillips, 2016 Round 3 pick (Andreas Englund), 2017 Round 3 pick and 2018 Round 1 pick to St. Petersburg for Pekka Rinne, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Blake Wheeler
Traded Zach Parise to Lisbon for 2016 Round 1 pick (Linus Klasen)
Traded Ryan Suter and Blake Wheeler to Moscow for Kevin Dallman and 2016 Round 1 pick (Olli Palola)
Traded 2018 Round 3 pick to Moscow for Aleksey Morozov
After Season 5 started
Signed Frazer McLaren (free agent)
Traded 2019 RD 3 pick to Copenhagen for Chris Legge
Claimed Louis Leblanc (waivers)