The New Jersey Devils go into this season having missed the playoffs five years in a row. The last time they made the playoffs was the 2011-2012 season, and they went to the Stanley Cup Final, losing to the Los Angeles Kings in six games. The Devils have been rebuilding the past couple years as they’ve finished at the bottom of the Metropolitan division. Here’s a look at what to expect this season from New Jersey.
The Devils have been rebuilding the past couple years as they’ve finished at the bottom of the Metropolitan division. Here’s a look at what to expect this season from New Jersey.
New Jersey’s forwards are getting better but they have far from a deep lineup. It starts with Taylor Hall, who is one of the
It starts with Taylor Hall, who is one of the best left wingers in hockey. His 5V5 points per 60 of 2.29 last season, was outstanding coming from a bad team.
Kyle Palmieri is also criminally underrated and has come into his own with the Devils. He had a very quiet 26 goal and 53 point season for the Devils.
The Devils acquired Marcus Johannson from the Capitals over the summer for pennies on the dollar and he should be good for at least 15-20 goals this upcoming season. He makes that top six instantly better this season.
Nico Hischier has to be mentioned as he was the number one overall pick in this year’s draft and there is a good chance he’ll be a top-six center and Calder candidate for them this season. His 38 goal season for Halifax is impressive and playing alongside him could be Johannson and Drew Stafford, who they also picked up over the off-season.
Brian Boyle is a tremendous story going into this season as he was diagnosed with a form of Leukemia last week but still will play this season. He’ll have everyone in the hockey community behind his back.
Adam Henrique should get top-six minutes after scoring 20 goals last season and who could forget about Pavel Zacha? He’ll be a top-six/nine center for New Jersey this season.
New Jersey’s defense isn’t one of the stronger groups in the league, and it’s the weakest in the Metropolitan division. It’s headlined by captain Andy Greene. He doesn’t contribute much offensively – only had four goals and 13 points next year. He’s already 34 and signed for another three more seasons, so the decline in his play will likely continue.
Joining Greene on the top pairing will likely be Damon Severson, who led the team in points for a defenseman last season with 31. He also had a 5v5 points per 60 of 1.14 last season. He’s signed for another six seasons, and at just 23 years of age, he has many good seasons ahead of him. He should be on the top pairing until that contract expires.
The middle pairing could consist of John Moore and Ben Lovejoy which isn’t that impressive. Ben Lovejoy is limited offensively, but is good in his own zone. Moore had CF% of 46.9 last season, which is not good. He did have 12 goals and 22 points though, but it might be asking a bit much for him to continue that again.
Devils fans will obviously be excited for Will Butcher though as they were able to sign him over the summer and he’ll likely be in a bottom pairing role to start. Joining him will be Steve Santini or Mirco Mueller.
In goal again for the Devils, this season will be Cory Schneider who will be looking to bounce back from a below average season by his standards. His .908 save percentage is his worst save percentage of his career when playing over 20 games in a season. Schneider should be able to do much better than that as he was .924 the season prior to that and .925 in 2014-2015. He also had a losing record and a 2.82 goals-against average.
Backing Schneider up this year will be Keith Kinkaid again, who had a higher save percentage than Schneider last year at .916 in a backup role.
Looking ahead to trade deadline – if sellers who could be on the move, if buyers what area might they need to improve?
They’ll most likely be sellers because of how strong the Metropolitan division is. They may look to sell on a couple pending UFA’s such as John Moore or Dalton Prout though their value may not be too high. Drew Stafford could also be dealt as he signed for only $800K this season.
What rookies could make the team?
Nico Hischier is, of course, making the team in New Jersey as he’s the number one overall pick from this year’s draft. John Quenneville also looks like he’s going to be on the team after playing just 12 games last year. He’s still a rookie by NHL standards. Will Butcher will also be getting a good amount of playing time in his first season.
Which player could take a step forward this season?
Even though Severson was good last season, he has the potential to be even better this season. He’ll be playing top pairing minutes and is their best offensive defenseman. He should get the majority of the power play time as well, which will get his stats up a bit.
Which players could regress?
Andy Greene could keep regressing a bit and it’s always possible that Cory Schneider keeps regressing as well after a bad season. John Moore has the potential as well after a 12 goal, 22 point campaign last season.
How will the team do this season?
New Jersey won’t be a playoff team this season due to how strong the Metro is, but they’re going in the right direction. They should finish towards the bottom of the division.