Apr 25, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; The New Jersey Devils celebrate a goal by New Jersey Devils right wing Ilya Kovalchuk (17) during the third period at the Prudential Center. The Devils defeated the Penguins 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Metropolitan Division Preview: New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils made the most news in the Metropolitan Division, but not for a good reason.

Star player Ilya Kovalchuk decided to retire from the NHL and return to his native Russia signing a four-year contract with SKA Saint Petersburg.

Kovalchuk’s retirement left the Devils’ offense with much less talent and depth for the 2013-14 season.

Devils GM Lou Lamoriello made three signings in free agency, Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder and Jaromir Jagr, that should help ease the loss of Kovalchuk. The three veterans will join Travis Zajac, Adam Henrique and Patrik Elias in the effort to lead the offense.

On defense, the Devils have a good group of six defensemen. While none of them are too flashy of a name, they make up a solid blue line that excels in defending their net.

The New Jersey Devils traded the ninth overall pick for Cory Schneider at the 2013 Draft. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

New Jersey will look to 2011 first-round pick Adam Larsson to continue his development and eventually become a number one defenseman.

Where the Devils lack on offense they make up in goaltending with Martin Brodeur and newly-acquired Cory Schneider. With a tandem like that, it can give other teams fits any night.

But even with the depleted offense, the Devils can always find ways to win with their defense. They’ll slow teams down in the neutral zone and force them to dump the puck to a great stick-handling goalie in Brodeur.

For the Canes to beat the Devils they need to stymie the depleted offense. Goals won’t be easy for the Devils and causing frustration is one way to get the team off their game. Scoring opportune goals could be the difference for both teams.

This Devils’ team may look like one of their worst in the past couple of years, but never underestimate their hard work and drive to win.

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