The Devils let former captain Bryce Salvador walk in free agency this summer, and haven’t named a new captain yet. Bryce Salvador was named captain after he put up an impressive Stanley Cup Playoffs campaign after scoring 14 points and coming up huge in clutch moments. Most other hockey fans who didn’t know that stat might have wondered why he was the captain. Here are my top 3 candidates for the Devils next captain.
Travis Zajac has been playing for the Devils for his entire 9 year NHL career. His best seasons are behind him, however. His best season was the 2009-2010 season when he put up 25 goals and 42 assists. Last year was unimpressive, when he only scored 11 goals and 14 assists for a grand total of 25 points. His rookie season was better when he produced 42 points. Despite not living up to expectations, he has shown flashes of leadership and could possibly be the team’s next captain.
Adam Larsson was drafted 4th overall in the 2011 NHL Draft, and was said to possibly be picked first overall. If you’ve watched any hockey lately, you’d know that he hasn’t performed to number 1 prospect expectations. However, last season was the breakout season he desperately needed. He scored 24 points in 67 games last season. He also just signed a new 6 year, $25 million dollar contract. This doesn’t mean he will be captain next year, but he certainly can in a few years as he is 22 and still developing.
3. Mike Cammalleri
Despite only having one year as a Devil under his belt, Mike Cammalleri could be a strong consideration as the next captain of the New Jersey Devils. Cammalleri signed a 5 year, $25 million dollar contract in last year’s off-season with the Devils. Last season, he was the Devils’ highest offensive producer, scoring 27 goals and 42 points. Of those 27 goals, 8 were game winning goals, which was good for 3rd in the NHL, being tied with John Tavares, Rick Nash, and others. Without those 8 wins, the Devils would having been tied with Edmonton for third to last in the league, assuming those games didn’t go to overtime. Mike Cammalleri would make a great captain as he practically carried New Jersey’s offense on his back.
2. Patrik Elias
Patrik Elias would probably be anyone else’s number 1 on this list, but I have him at number 2. Elias has never wanted to be the captain, just an alternate captain. As he only has one year left on his contract, and is 38 years old, it looks like next year could be his last. Patrik Elias has spent his entire career with the Devils, and has by far been their best forward ever. He has over 400 goals and over 600 assists in his NHL career. It seems like being captain would be a fitting end to his NHL career. I think the position could be his, but only if he wants it.
1. Andy Greene
32 year old Andy Greene went undrafted and has spent his whole NHL career with New Jersey. Greene is a balanced defenseman who has 171 points in 559 NHL games since the 2006-2007 season. He also seemed to captain the team when Bryce Salvador was injured this season. Greene also seems to lead by example, and our younger defenseman like Larsson, Gelinas, Merrill, and Severson seem to be learning from him. Though his stats aren’t impressive, he does all the right things that don’t show up on a scoresheet, and I think he should captain the New Jersey Devils next season.