i really don't think it's even about a d-man. i think larsson will be good, but i don't think he'll ever be great. he's probably not going to turn into a pronger or a lidstrom, probably not even a suter or weber or whatever. he'll be good, but he'll probably never be a surefire norris candidate. neither will merrill. both will be solid #2 or #3 guys when they develop fully. unless the devils luck into a fully developed top pairing d-man on the open market, they'll have to muddle through with all the 2nd pairing guys they have now and the ones in albany.

the same really goes with forward depth. the devils don't have any elite centres either. zajac is a nice 1b/2 centre on a great team. he needs another him. henrique could develop into that, but more likely will be a nice complement winger like parise. elias has great vision but he's not as fast as he once was and he's closer to retirement than he is to prime. josefson could top out at a zajac, but likely will be to zajac what paul martin was to rafalski or what rafalski was to niedermayer.

that leaves the devils with an elite scoring winger (kovalchuk), an extremely hard working very talented winger (parise) who may not be in nj next year, and a bunch of filler guys.

i'd love to argue that the devils could become an elite team in the east, but chances are, they'll continue being a middle power or perhaps even decline, depending on what happens in the ufa season.