I think the Devils will surprise a lot of people. Very, very deep at forward this year.
People harp on losing Kovalchuk, but he scored four even strength goals last year. Four. The same amount as Stephen Gionta. Great player, of course, but the Devils are a much better team now than they were last season. Replacing Clarkson with Clowe is a wash.
They should be able to dominate puck possession, and the Schneider/Hedberg switch alone will make a huge difference. The ten-game stretch when Marty went down arguably cost them the playoffs last season.