The Devils welcomed several exciting prospects into training camp, and as some head back to the juniors or the AHL, one prospect continues to shine - Jacob Josefson.
To find out why I think Josefson deserves a spot with the Devils, continue after the jump!
Josefson has never been a big scorer, with a career high of 31 points in 2007-2008 coming for his Swedish team, Djurgårdens IF. He’s noted for his two-way play, and scouts rave about his playmaking abilities. These have all been on display so far during the preseason, and Josefson has made the case that he deserves the third line center spot.
Since camp opened, Josefson has looked the part of an NHL center, meshing well with linemates and making sound plays. But it’s not only his abilities that have him lined up for a spot with the Devils. David Clarkson, who spent time on a line during the team’s Red and White scrimmage on September 20, said Josefson’s confidence has helped him tremendously.
“You see a lot of rookies come into the League and they’re lacking the confidence,” he said in an article on NewJerseyDevils.com. “They have the skill, but they’re lacking that confidence and he seems to have it. He seems to not be scared to take the puck and go, he seems not to be scared to get hit. It’s impressive the confidence that he has out there and I think that’s what makes him the player he is.”
He hasn’t overwhelmed offensively, with no goals or assists yet in the preseason. But he’s averaged 18:06 in ice time for the two games he’s played, and he’s made his impact known, setting up teammates and playing sound defense. He’s shown no difficulty in transitioning from the Swedish League to the NHL, something his fellow Swede Mattias Tedenby struggled with in his first game of the preseason. He’s looked comfortable and, most importantly, seems ready to contribute.
Josefson won’t win the battle for third-line center outright. He’s facing tough competition from Adam Mair, who has two goals and plays a rough and tumble kind of game. Rod Pelley, who always seems to battle for the third-line spot, also presents a challenge. That’s three guys for one spot, with one loser getting the fourth-line center position and the other finding his way into the minors or free agency.
Josefson has shown chemistry with Brian Rolston and Dainius Zubrus, his potential third line wingers. He’s brought excitement and immense talent to the ice. He plays that classic “Devils style”, and could be a 25+ point scorer. For a rookie on the third line, that prospect should excite coaches and fans. Sure, Josefson could toil in Albany and perfect his game. But the rookie has impressed everyone so far, and deserves a shot with the big club.
Photo Credit: John O'Boyle/The Star-Ledger