The last four months have been the worst time to be a New Jersey Devils fan in recent history. From the summer soap opera of the Ilya Kovalchuk saga, until the start of the season the roster was in question because of cap concerns that have yet to be fully resolved. When injuries hit, the Devils could only dress 15 skaters for a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and coach John MacLean even scratched Kovalchuk for one game, with a rift between player and coach apparent.
Perceived as a Stanley Cup contender at the start of the season, the Devils now sit at 4-10-1 with the fewest points in the NHL. But the worst news of all is that Zach Parise, the Devils' best player, will miss three months recovering from a torn meniscus. Is the Devils' season doomed? Not necessarily, but it sure doesn't look good.
Parise is a top-10 talent in the NHL. Over the last two seasons, Parise is fourth in goals and tied for sixth in points (ironically, with Kovalchuk) among all NHL players. Puck Prospectus' GVT metric puts his value at roughly 23 goals per season, meaning he has been the third most valuable forward -- behind Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby -- in the entire league. This means the loss of Parise for three months (approximately 40 games) should cost the Devils 12 goals in goal differential. Since there are about three goals per point in the standings, that means four fewer points in the standings than they could have been expected to collect with Parise in the lineup.
This may not seem like a lot for a superstar like Parise, but superstars get a lot of ice time to achieve their numbers. Over the last two seasons, Parise has produced 2.52 points per 60 minutes at even strength and 5.11 points per 60 minutes at 5-on-4. An average NHL third-liner scores 1.55 points at even strength and 3.4 on the power-play. That means a third-liner with Parise's ice time would have about 30 points fewer than Parise over the course of a full season, which is a significant but not disastrous loss in production.