Continued from page 1

The Devils certainly have talent up front with Kovalchuk, Parise and Patrik Elias and a slew of role players in David Clarkson, Dainius Zubrus, Vladimir Zharkov, Rod Pelley, David Steckel, Eric Boulton, Cam Janssen and Stephane Veilleux.

New Jersey might also head into the season with an old friend, Petr Sykora. A member of their 2000 Stanley Cup championship team, he was invited to camp on a tryout and has been impressive with his preseason scoring ability.

“You get a lot more pucks in this system now,” the 34-year-old Czech said. “It’s aggressive and everyone seems to enjoy it. I know I feel comfortable here, and whenever I get a chance to play, I’m going to make the most of it.”

The key for the offense might be how well the youngsters play. Swedes Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby showed flashes last season and Nick Palmieri was a grinder, who had nine goals in 42 games.

Josefson has looked good at center in training camp and should help out until Zajac gets back. The team hopes he will miss only six weeks of the season.

Center Adam Henrique, who scored 25 goals for the Devils top minor league team at Albany, also has a shot at making the team.

“We all have opportunities here to make it right,” Henrique said, “and it’s up to us to take advantage of them.”

The one thing that the Devils can’t afford to do is get off to a bad start again. They went 10-29-2 under MacLean before Lemaire came out of retirement and took over just before Christmas.

The change sparked an amazing 23-3-2 run that got them within six points of a playoff spot, but the run didn’t last.

“It’ll be a very interesting season,” Kovalchuk said. “We have a lot of young guys now, with a real bright future.”