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New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur (L) is congratulated by teammate Ilya Kovalchuk after the Devils defeated the Philadelphia Flyers on Brodeur's 40th birthday in Game 4 of their NHL Eastern Conference semi-final playoff hockey game in Newark, New Jersey, May 6, 2012. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine


There's quite a contrast between how the Los Angeles Kings were assembled and how their opponents in the finals were put together.

The New Jersey Devils, for one, are a very free agent laden team, with nine members of their playoff roster (compared to two from the Kings) having been picked up for nothing in free agency.

That helps explain why the Devils were the NHL's oldest team this season: They rely on experience and developing players over a long period of time as well as any other franchise.

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The Devils are also very much the destination for bargain bin success stories, with Ryan Carter having been claimed on waivers and the rest of the team's fourth line all playing on AHL contracts to start with the organization.

Several of those free agents were never drafted (Andy Greene, David Clarkson, etc.) while others went deep into the summer without a contract (Steve Bernier and Peter Harrold).

Those players are all the depth of the organization, however, and the real reason for the franchise's success has been finding gems late in the first round and elsewhere in the draft.

Consider that all of Martin Brodeur, Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Jacob Josefson were taken between 17th and 20th in the draft, where the Devils have often been picking.

Add in second-, third- and fifth-round picks Patrik Elias, Adam Henrique and Mark Fayne and you have another large part of the backbone of the organization being formed through the draft, including the Devils two old-timers in Brodeur and Elias who have two of the longest tenures of any players in the NHL with one team.

That type of success is the reason why New Jersey's long time director of scouting David Conte is held in such high regard around the league and has been rumoured in the running for several GM positions.

And the team's willingness to spend is why they landed the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk, originally via trade, and were able to give him a 15-year deal to keep him.

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<h5 style='border-top: #000 1px solid; border-bottom: #000 1px dotted; font:14px Georgia,serif; font-weight: normal; width: 460px; padding: 5px 0; margin: 20px 0 0'>How the Devils were built</h5><iframe src="" scrolling='no' frameborder='no' width='460' height='300' style='border-bottom: 1px dotted #000; margin: 20px 0 0' ></iframe>

Here's a full breakdown of what players were acquired by which method:

First round pick: Martin Brodeur (1990), Zach Parise (2003), Travis Zajac (2004), Jacob Josefson (2009), Adam Larsson (2011)

Other draft pick: Patrik Elias (1994), Adam Henrique (2008), Mark Fayne (2005)

Trades: Bryce Salvador (2008), Tim Sestito (2009), Ilya Kovalchuk (2010), Alexei Ponikarovsky (2012), Marek Zidlicky (2012)

Free agency: David Clarkson (2005), Andy Greene (2006), Stephen Gionta (2006), Dainius Zubrus (2007), Anton Volchenkov (2010), Johan Hedberg (2010), Steve Bernier (2011), Petr Sykora (2011), Peter Harrold (2011)

Waivers: Ryan Carter (2011)

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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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