New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils had themselves an offseason. They did everything that you want for a young team that is coming off of a year they’d like to forget. They acquired talent, they added experience, and they addressed positions of need. This team could be dangerous in the coming season, and their downside isn’t all that bad either.
It all starts with Jack Hughes. The number one overall pick is as skilled as he is confident. He has an infectious energy that should keep him as the face of this franchise for the next decade. Hughes should develop into the number one offensive performer for the Devils and will be asked to carry his fair share of the load this coming season.
Although Jack Hughes is the biggest acquisition for the future, P. K. Subban means the most to this team today. His talent is unquestioned, his sheer will to win is unrivaled, but his charisma and leadership is really where this team should benefit. Subban has been through it, and this team now has a locker room presence that can steady the ship when times are tough, and keep them motivated when times are good.
Wayne Simmonds is a really underrated acquisition that rounds out an above average forward group. Nico Hischier should be ready to breakout in his third professional season after missing 13 games. Kyle Palmieri should continue to be a near 30 goal player, and this team will hopefully see the return of a healthy former Hart Trophy winner, Taylor Hall.
The defensive group may be average but the potential to be better is there. Subban obviously leads the charge, but Damon Severson is an underrated force for that team, Will Butcher provides an offensive punch from the blueline, and Sami Vatenen rounds out a group of youth that could really show out with the proper coaching.
Goaltending may be an issue for the Devils, but it also may be a strength. Cory Schneider is not the same player he once was, but a return to form is not entirely out of the question. The real unknown is second year goalie Mackenzie Blackwood. He was the Devils best goaltender down the stretch, and showed he belongs, but 20 games are a lot different than 40 plus. A platoon in net could do this team well, but it could also end in a repeat of goaltending issues that has plagues this team the past two seasons.
A Healthy Hall
If Taylor Hall can stay healthy than the Devils have a shot. With the addition of Hughes, Hall could have as good a season offensively as he had when he was MVP.
Chemistry or Combustion?
The one thing about this team is how they will fit together. This is a young team without a lot of direction, and P. K. Subban is a known personality. If they can find their place as a unit, then things could thrive, if they don’t, then the season could pay the price.
Is Blackwood the Real Deal?
Mackenzie Blackwood will have more pressure on him than almost any goaltender in this division. It was a small sample size, but if he can figure it out, like I believe he can, this team can be a dangerous bunch
2nd in the Division
4th in the Division