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Reaching Cup finals hasn't raised Devils' stock heading into lockout-shortened season

  • c3e8f49ff336ce01260f6a7067006863.jpg

    New Jersey Devils' Mathiew Darche, top, tries to score against Devils goalie Johan Hedberg (1), of Sweden, during an NHL hockey scrimmage, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (The Associated Press)

  • 71b7eef4f336ce01260f6a7067000a89.jpg

    New Jersey Devils goalie Johan Hedberg (1), of Sweden, is unable to stop a shot by Devils center Travis Zajac (19) during an NHL hockey scrimmage against the Albany Devils, the team's AHL affiliate, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (The Associated Press)

  • 0c98b64df333ce01260f6a7067003b29.jpg

    New Jersey Devils center David Clarkson (23) smiles during a scrimmage against the Albany Devils, the team's AHL farm team, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (The Associated Press)

  • 7aeb5853f331ce01260f6a706700b3a1.jpg

    New Jersey Devils left wing Ilya Kovalchuk, right, of Russia, gives a fist-bump to Mark Fayne during a scrimmage against the Albany Devils, the team's AHL farm team, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (The Associated Press)

Reaching the Stanley Cup finals hasn't made the New Jersey Devils one of the favorites to win the NHL title in this lockout-shortened season.

Far from it.

Despite returning Ilya Kovalchuk, Martin Brodeur and almost everyone from the club that came within two games of winning its fourth Cup, the Devils have a lot of doubters heading into the 48-game regular season.

A big part of the concern is the loss of former captain Zach Parise. A 31-goal scorer last year, he returned home by signing with Minnesota as a free agent.

Not only did general manager Lou Lamoriello lose a face of the franchise, he also decided not to re-sign veteran Petr Sykora, a 21-goal scorer, and faces the prospect of starting without second-year center Adam Henrique (16 goals), who is sidelined with a thumb injury.

Indeed, the Devils have a mountain to climb in the tough Eastern Conference if they are to repeat last season's success.

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