Thursday, February 16, 2012

Top 10 Video Special - The 10 Greatest Individual Seasons in Devils History

Ilya Kovalchuk's unbelievable season thus far got me thinking about Devils of the past.  Sure, we all know that no Devil has ever reached 50 goals or 100 points in a single season, but what about the greatest individual seasons that have occured?  I put together a list of my Top 10, with a small sample of their excellence from either that season or a season close to it.  Here's what I came up with.  It's the 16th DGA Top 10 Special in the history of DGA.

#10 - KIRK MULLER: 1987-88 (80 games, 37 goals, 57 assists, 94 points, 114 penalty minutes)

Before Zach Parise, the Devils had another American-born captain that wore #9.  Kirk Muller registered a career-high 94 points in 1987-88 (which is also Parise's career-high in points to date), and helped lead the Devils to their first-ever playoff birth in the spring of 1988.

#9 - JOHN MACLEAN: 1989-90 (80 games, 41 goals, 38 assists, 79 points, 11 game-winning goals)

1989-90 wasn't MacLean's best offensive season, although it was his second of three consecutive 40-goal seasons.  But having used Muller's 1987-88 season, I needed an excuse to show MacLean's goal that sent the Devils to the playoffs for the first time in 1988.  Also, MacLean set the Devils record with 11 game-winning goals in 1989-90.  Since I couldn't find a goal from that season, enjoy this one.

#8 - SCOTT GOMEZ: 2005-06 (82 games, 33 goals, 51 assists, 84 points, 244 shots on goal)

Although 2005-06 will be remembered for Brian Gionta's epic season, it's fair to say that Gio doesn't score 48 goals without the help of his center, Scott Gomez.  This was the prime of the EGG line, and coming out of the lockout, it was the line that carried the Devils through a 15-game winning streak at the end of the regular season and past the Rangers in round 1 of the playoffs.  Also, this is proof that Scott Gomez hasn't always been useless.

#7 - SCOTT NIEDERMAYER: 2003-04 (81 games, 14 goals, 40 assists, 54 points, Norris Trophy winner)

Scott Niedermayer's final season in New Jersey was a memorable one.  He was the Devils captain that season, and he put together one of the greatest seasons for a Devils defenseman.  He won the Norris Trophy that season, which capped off his Hall of Fame career with the Devils.

#6 - MARTIN BRODEUR: 1996-97 (67 games, 34-14-13 record, 1.88 goals against average, .927 save percentage, 10 shutouts)

The Devils won the Stanley Cup in 1995, but had a disappointing season in '96, missing the playoffs.  Marty and the Devils bounced back the following season.  Statistically, Brodeur had his best season in terms of goals against, save percentage and shutouts per game, but it was what he did in the playoffs that will be remembered that season.

#5 - PATRIK ELIAS: 2000-01 (82 games, 40 goals, 56 assists, 96 points, +45 rating)

In 2000-01, the season following Elias' first Stanley Cup championship, Elias exploded as one of hockey's best offensive players.  It was the prime of the "A-line," and if for nothing else, Elias' +45 rating puts that season 5th on the list.

#4 - BRIAN GIONTA: 2005-06 (82 games, 48 goals, 41 assists, 89 points, 291 shots on goal)

Well, as referred to earlier, Brian Gionta holds the Devils' single-season record with his 48-goal season.  Exactly half of them were power play goals.  If you strung all of his goals out that season, you'd probably have about the length of a rink.  He capped his season off by scoring twice in Montreal on the final day of the season, to finish a tremendous comeback by the Devils to win the Atlantic Division.  Here's a random goal he scored that season.

#3 - ZACH PARISE: 2008-09 (82 games, 45 goals, 49 assists, 94 points, +30 rating)

Zach Parise went from back-to-back 60-point seasons to a season that was a borderline Hart Trophy season in 2008-09.  Parise scored 45 times, and broke a franchise record, taking 364 shots on goal.  Parise played on the "ZZ Pops" line, and helped Travis Zajac and Jamie Langenbrunner both put up career-seasons offensively.

#2 - SCOTT STEVENS: 1993-94 (83 games, 18 goals, 60 assists, 78 points, +53 rating)

Scott Stevens' playing career will always be remembered for his crushing open-ice hits, but he was quite the offensive threat as well.  His best overall season of his Hall of Fame career came in 1993-94, when he registered 78 points and had a +53 rating.  He also took over 200 shots on goal that season.  That's what I call a number one defenseman!  Here's an unusual goal for a defenseman.

#1 - MARTIN BRODEUR: 2006-07 (78 games, 48-23-7 record, 2.18 goals against average, .922 save percentage, 12 shutouts)

Martin Brodeur has a lot of records.  He's played the most games, won and lost the most games of any goaltender, recorded the most shutouts, etc.  He pretty much recorded every single-season record in 2006-07.  Marty won a league-record 48 games that season, while playing a league-high 78 games that season.  He also set franchise records with 2,011 saves and 12 shutouts.  On the other hand, he only had one assist that season...

That's my Top 10.  What's your's?  Could Ilya Kovalchuk's 2011-12 season join this list?