Bright Spots in a Dull Season

Lets face it, the Devils haven't been spectacular this year. You can blame it on the players, the coaches, the management, or the hockey Gods. As a die-hard Devil's fan, its been a painful season and I'm sure many of my die-hard peers would agree. However, with the season being so dull, there are more than a few bright spots that make me excited for the future of the team.

Taylor Hall at the Prudential Center

When I heard the Devils traded for Taylor Hall, I was ecstatic. Taylor Hall is bonafide winger and a rare talent in this league. Hall brings the Devils a star player that we haven't had since the days of Parise and Kovalchuck. If GM Ray Shero can bring in complimentary pieces to play with him, we might see Hallsy have some fantastic seasons.

The emergence of Miles Wood this year has Devils fans stoked. My cousin even bought his Jersey. Wood brings blazing speed, grit and passion onto the ice and has captured the hearts of Devils fans so far this season. His future looks bright in Newark. In addition to Wood, former second round pick Steven Santini, is enjoying a pretty successful start to his NHL career, recently scoring his first NHL goal at Rogers place against the Oilers. He leads the Devils in +/- and since his call up to the NHL, he has brought a calming presence to the blueline. Whether its sending a breakout pass up the ice, skating it up himself or getting dirty along the boards, the Devils can find solace in that they are getting solid play from their top defensive prospect. While Pavel Zacha's rookie season has been a pretty big disappointment, sometimes I need a reminder that the KID is only 19 years old. Zacha is still growing into his 6'3 frame, and needs to get physically stronger, but his Hockey IQ and his vision out on the ice are beyond his years. Remember that "Jumbo" Joe Thornton struggled his rookie year and as far as Zacha goes, I'm sure he will have a successful NHL career. Although Nick Lappin was recently sent down to the minors, I believe that he will benefit from the extra ice time up in Albany. There is no doubt that Lappin will be back up before the end of the season with more dimensions to his game.

Since I can remember, Merrill has be the scapegoat of the Devils. Often times I find myself making a merrible joke every now and then, but since the injuries to Andy Greene and John Moore, Merrill finally looks like he can handle himself in the NHL. I remember being at Merrill's fist game back from injury being absolutely disgusted in his play, it looked like he was afraid out on the ice and it was obvious he didn't belong out there. Fast forward 15 games and now Merrill has been arguably the best Devils defenseman since Greene and Moore went down. If Merrill can continue playing at this level even when Greene and Moore return, he can prove to be an important asset to the Devils.

Highly sought after upcoming UFA Kevin Shattenkirk with his current team the St. Louis Blues.

I've crunched the numbers, the Devils will have $22 million dollars in cap space this upcoming offseason. Yes, you read that right, Twenty-two MILLION. You can't help but to feel giddy as a Devil's fan with the likes of Kevin Shattenkirk hitting Free Agency this summer. Even if the Devils don't use all of that space this summer, they will still have the wiggle room to fleece cap strapped teams like the Blackhawks before the season starts. *Insert Johnny Boychuck and Nick Leddy reference here.* Oh, and don't forget, Clowe's $5 million cap hit comes off the books at the end of next season.

Follow me on twitter, where only sometimes I post about hockey. -@StevieGintzzz