Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello also inked Clowe to a five-year, $24.25 million deal despite the power forward suffering through a down season in 2013. The 30-year-old had no goals and 11 assists in 28 games with San Jose before being traded to the New York Rangers. Clowe did play better in New York, notching three goals and six assists in 14 games (regular season and playoffs).
Ryder landed a two-year, $7 million deal from the Devils after posting 16 goals and 19 assists in 46 games with Dallas and Montreal. New Jersey also offered winger Damien Brunner a professional tryout. The 27-year-old Brunner, who had 12 goals and 14 assists as a rookie with Detroit last season, is expected to make the team out of camp, considering the team's offensive options are limited.
The Devils are also hoping for increased offensive contributions from some returning players like Travis Zajac, Dainius Zubrus and Adam Henrique.
Zajac, who had a disappointing seven goals and 13 assists in 48 games last season, figures to be the club's second-line center behind Elias. The 28-year- old had a 25-goal, 67-points season with New Jersey in 2009-10, but he has since posted only 22 goals and 48 points in 145 games over the past three campaigns. Zajac carries an annual cap hit of $5.75 million through the 2020-21 season, a high price to pay for a guy who has had trouble scoring in recent years.
Henrique, 23, also has a lot to prove after inking a six-year, $24 million contract with the Devils over the summer. He was a finalist for the Calder Trophy following a 16-goal, 51-point rookie season in 2011-12, but fell to 11 goals and five assists in 42 games last season.
Zubrus is a big winger capable of playing a defensive role, but his offensive upside is minimal at best. He had two goals and seven assists in 22 games last season, but Zubrus could be asked to make a bigger impact on offense in 2013-14.
DeBoer will fill out the rest of his forward group with a mix of young players like Reid Boucher, Andrei Loktionov, and Jacob Josefson and low-scoring veterans such as Steve Bernier, Ryan Carter, Krys Barch and Rostislav Olez.
It's going to be a scuffle on offense for the Devils and that's assuming everybody stays healthy. If the injury bug bites, it won't take much to expose New Jersey's paper-thin depth up front.
DEFENSE - The lack of scoring potential on this roster means the Devils will almost certainly have to play a defensive style in 2013-14, with the forwards taking less chances on offense and helping out at the back end.
That could make things a bit easier on New Jersey's blue line, which is short on offensive talent but adept at playing in its own zone. The defensive rotation features steady veterans Andy Greene, Bryce Salvador, Marek Zidlicky and Anton Volchenkov, and the Devils are hoping youngster Adam Larsson, the fourth overall pick of the 2011 draft, can make some progress after an inconsistent start to his NHL career.
Zidlicky has the biggest offensive upside of the group and led New Jersey's blue line with 19 points (4G, 15A). Greene, who led the team in ice time, tied Zidlicky for the team lead in goals by a defenseman and also added 12 assists.
Salvador fell back to earth, offensively speaking, during the 2013 regular season after scoring in bunches during the 2012 playoffs. The 37-year-old only had three goals and one assist in 50 career postseason games heading into the spring of 2012, when he exploded for four goals and 10 assists over 24 games. Last season, however, Salvador managed just two assists in 39 games.