Talking Red

O’ Captain, My Captain

Posted in on by Dan Pennucci

By Dan Pennucci (@dpennucci)

With Zach Parise having followed his heart and checkbook to Minnesota, the Devils are on the cusp of picking their new captain, which Devils coach Peter DeBoer told the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti he would name before Saturday’s opener against the Islanders. (honestly, it’s hard to be too mad at Parise, but I was miffed, albeit not surprised. Not burning No. 9 sweaters or anything, some fans took it a bit extreme).

The Devils anointed Parise the team’s captain last season after shipping Jamie Langenbrunner off to Dallas during the 2010-11 season (to be re-dubbed the season that shall not be mentioned); there are several obvious choices to be named the team’s 10th captain in the coming days, but we’re guessing it won’t be Ryan Carter or Mark Fayne.

In no particular order:

Patrik Elias- Aging veteran leader, winner of two Stanley Cups, and, along with Martin Brodeur, the only remaining member of both the 2000 and 2003 Cup-winning sides. Elias was named the team’s captain in 2006 after re-signing following the lockout before the most recent lockout and held the post until 2007. He’s an obvious choice as the team’s elder statesmen and one of its most consistent playmakers, (78 points in 81 games last season). Elias has always been more of a quiet leader on the ice and never been one to get in the face of his teammates; his skills have always drawn respect from both his opponents and his peers, but he is certainly in the twilight of his career.

Travis Zajac- Zajac will be in New Jersey for at least the next eight seasons, following his signing a contract extension today that will earn him $46 million over that span. The Devils will gladly welcome their consistently underrated pivot back for his first full season since the 2010-11 campaign, with first-line duty and a spot alongside Ilya Kovalchuk. A torn Achilles’ tendon in August of 2011 limited Zajac to just a handful of regular season contests before slamming home seven goals in 24 playoff contests last spring. Zajac is hitting the stride of his career and the Devils made a quick move to lock him up, not allowing him to reach unrestricted free agency. Zajac assumes the mantle of the team’s on-ice leader as their top center and is a likely choice to trade his “A” for a “C.”

Ilya Kovalchuk- The Devils still have 13 more years with Kovalchuk under contract, a contract that was called into question by rampant reports as to whether Ilya would return from the Motherland KHL after his lockout stint in St. Petersburg, as noted by CBS’s Brian Stubits. Alas, Kovalchuk did return to the Western Hemisphere this week, notching a goal and an assist in Wednesday’s scrimmage with Albany. Kovalchuk truly found his game in New Jersey last season, showing him to be adept in all situations, notching 83 points. Kovalchuk will lead the team’s offense as one of the league’s most skilled forwards. One has to wonder how Kovalchuk would adapt to being named the team’s captain, as many believe it has not suited Washington’s enigmatic dynamic scorer Alex Ovechkin too well. One has to wonder if both Washington and the Devils would not be better served by a captain with more sandpaper to his game.

David Clarkson- One of the team’s on-ice leaders and its toughest competitor. Clarkson has absolutely no qualms about dropping the gloves, going into the corner or parking himself in front of the net. The fan favorite was a member of a rare club last season, being one of just three players in the league to record 30-plus goals and over 100 penalty minutes along with Anaheim’s Corey Perry and Philadelphia’s Scott Hartnell. Clarkson has the toughness and leadership to set the tone for the team, but odds are he will receive one of the alternate captain spots.

Likely choice: Travis Zajac. Your thoughts? Send them to @talkingred.

  • Devils4Life

    Why no mention of Bryce Salvador? I think it’s between him and Kovy.

    • Dan Pennucci

      Fair point. In all honesty, I forgot about him when I put this up last night.