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By Pierre LeBrunThe Devils have been the model of consistency in their division, making the playoffs 11 straight seasons and winning two Stanley Cups during that stretch. Backed by Martin Brodeur, the game's best goaltender during that time, the Devils were always a guarantee to make the playoffs with a hardworking, defensive game that made opponents pay for every inch of the ice. But underneath that stretch hides a more recent truth. The post-lockout Devils aren't quite up to the standards of those earlier years. They made the playoffs, yes, but fizzled against faster, more explosive opponents come playoff time. This isn't the same blue-line corps once patrolled by the likes of Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer. Also, goals were hard to come by last season. This past summer, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello, one of the game's best, added star forward Brian Rolston and brought checking center Bobby Holik back to the fold. But is it enough? Every season, the pundits predict the Devils will finally fold, only to be proven wrong. OFFENSE
By Jay FeasterTo the extent novelist Thomas Wolfe was correct in writing "You Can't Go Home Again," the biggest improvement for the New Jersey Devils this offseason may not be enough to keep them in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. It has been a case of "Back to the Future" for Brent Sutter's team with the free-agent signings of former Devils Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik.
Rolston will help in many ways, including quarterbacking a power play that felt the loss of Brian Rafalski and Scott Gomez last season. Holik is still very effective on draws (over 58 percent) and in getting under the skin of the opponents. The presence of both should take some of the workload off Patrik Elias and enable him to enjoy a bounce-back year. Youngsters Zach Parise and Travis Zajac will continue to become even better with experience. The key remains Martin Brodeur, the most dominant goaltender of the past decade. At age 36, how many more seasons of 70-plus games can he endure? Of course, we've been asking that question for how many years, and he still finds a way to confound the "experts" and get his team into the playoffs. There's at least one more trip here. Jay Feaster served as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning from the 2001-02 season until resigning last season. He is a contributor to ESPN.com.
Outlook: While the Devils are routinely a playoff contender, that doesn't mean they're a great source of fantasy numbers. In fact, there might not be another team in all of professional sports with a roster comprised almost entirely of better-in-the-real-game-than-in-fantasy players. When it comes to the Devils, everything begins and ends with Martin Brodeur. It might mean good things from a plus/minus perspective, but understand this: No Devil has amassed as many as 70 points in either of the past two seasons. -- Tristan H. Cockcroft • Sign up for ESPN's NHL Fantasy Game now!