In an interview with the NHL.com, Devils All-Star goaltender Cory Schneider discussed his team’s moves during the 2016 offseason and their chances in the 2016-17 season.
“I think we’re definitely in the mix,” Schneider told the NHL’s official website in an interview also posted to the Devils’ website. “You just have to be better than eight other teams in your conference. I think that’s our objective and once you get in, you’re in and anything can happen.”
Schneider also mentioned how acquiring Taylor Hall from the Edmonton Oilers will make them a big threat offensively, something they have never really been before. He mentioned that he used to face Hall a lot when Hall was with Edmonton and Schneider was with the Vancouver Canucks and knows the kind of offensive firepower he brings to a team.
Schneider called Hall a “bona fide superstar” in the NHL and gives the Devils, who have “had a very blue-collar mentality” a chance to score goals each night and added that “it’s good to have that kind of talent and a game-breaker like that.” The Devils’ offense was ranked last in the NHL last season.
The Devils’ goalie, who will suit up for Team USA at the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, said that it is unfortunate that New Jersey had to give up a talent the likes of Adam Larsson to get Hall, but said that you have to give a lot to get a lot in the NHL.
He called Larsson “a great player and a great person” also saying that “(I)t has been fun watching him mature and develop.” He pointed out that Larsson ate up a lot of minutes in games and he and defense partner Andy Greene were regularly tasked with shutting down the opponent’s top line. Larsson was second in ice time per game on the Devils (22:30) according to the article and fifth in the NHL in average ice time per game on the penalty kill (3:20). Larsson will be hard to replace, but Schneider does feel that the acquisition of Hall was a good move in the long-run.
He also praised Devils GM Ray Shero, saying that he and the coaching staff “have done a great job identifying our weaknesses and trying to address them.” Schneider feels that Shero “has done a good job of clearing out some older guys. You loved playing with all of those guys, but he wanted to make up younger and faster, and I think he’s been doing that.”
When talking about the other moves the Devils have made this offseason, including adding Beau Bennett, Vernon Fiddler and Ben Lovejoy, Schneider said that “(Y)ou see teams do it in this league that in a couple of years, they’re able to turn things around pretty quickly and establish that culture of winning or getting in the playoffs.” He mentioned that “it can change in a hurry. We haven’t had the luxury of a top pick – first overall or top three, top five – so maybe that makes it a little bit hardere because that’s where you find those talents.”
Schneider especially feels that Lovejoy will be important in filling the void left by Larsson. “I was joking that we might have to win 4-3 this year instead of 2-1” he said referencing the added offense that Hall will bring but also that he will have to work harder in net to keep the Devils in games defensively. But Schneider has been one of the bright spots for the Devils over the last few seasons. He was the Devils’ lone All-Star last season, was named to Team USA for the World Cup and has been one of the best goaltenders in the NHL the last four or five years. The article on NHL.com mentions that he was basically one of the main reasons that the Devils were still in playoff contention late in the year and that they really faded once injuries hit Schneider (he is fully recovered from core muscle injury surgery that he went through on May 12).
If Cory can stay healthy throughout the World Cup tournament and if Taylor Hall can meet the expectations that the Devils have for him, a playoff berth may just be in the Devils’ future. And from there, as Schneider himself pointed out, anything can happen.