The Devils are ready to step in the right direction after an active season. Between the additions of Dugi Hamilton and Ryan Graves, who immediately became the team’s number one defender, general manager Tom Fitzgerald is hoping the Devils ’long-standing defensive problems will subside. Thomas Tatar, acquired in a free agency, is in the top six, and Jonathan Bernier reinforces the tandem of the “devils”.
Fitzgerald paid special attention to each area of the line, but now it’s about how it unites on the ice. With a few well-known additions to the season, as well as one or two seasons of young players, the Devils may have a legitimate chance to fight for the playoffs.
While he may not be the best winger on many other NHL teams, the Tatar is a skilled playmaker who moves in a hurry. Much of the playoffs against the Canadians last season were a healthy draw, with the Tatars probably champing to show what they can do in the big minutes.
After a poor season that led to a promising second-round campaign, Jack Hughes is definitely one of the young players the devils need to start. The same goes for Niko Hischier, who hasn’t been as dazzling as in the new season. A couple of shots from Hughes and Hischier in the center weren’t what the devils needed, but could develop under the belt for another year.
Winger Jesper Bratt is also on the verge of a break. The Devils are no doubt hoping that center-back Yegor Sharangovish and 23-year-old striker Janne Kuokkanen will be able to improve their game last season as well.
A lot is expected of Hamilton. Although he spent most of his career in difficult moments, Hamilton almost always had a strong defensive partner. Not so in New Jersey. Hamilton is currently the team’s number one defender and is expected to play like that.
Hamilton will likely be working with Graves, who has helped build a strong defense in Colorado over the last three seasons. Graves may be the product of playing in a defensive team like Avalanche with 2019-20 Calder Trophy winner Kyle Makar, but he could fill Hamilton well.
Ty Smith and Damon Severson held the defense last season and have built strong ties both on and off the ice along the way. A Severson-attacking-minded defender, he complements Smith’s ability to move on the disc. Oh, and PK Subban is still here. The number 76 is in the year of his march, and of course he will have to show more than he did with the Devils.
Jonathan Bernier was brought in not only to coach 24-year-old Mackenzie Blackwood, but also to compete with him. The hope is that the two will push each other forward and support healthy competition. If Blackwood is not vaccinated, more complications can occur.
Lindy Ruff’s first season as a Devils bench was not ideal, as the team finished second in the Eastern Division with 19 wins in 56 games. However, the veteran head coach and former Rangers assistant knew he had joined the revolving franchise. The team was a bit stagnant last season, so it will be very important for the “devils” to at least step in the right direction.
The most important attacking player
Jack Hughes. Hughes, who has failed in the last two seasons, is in the dominant year.
The most important defensive player
Dugi Hamilton. The move to the role of the No. 1 defender on the recovering team is clearly one of the biggest challenges in Hamilton’s career. He also has a lucrative contract worth $ 63 million over seven years.
The best player
Douson Mercer. The 18th overall pick of the 2020 contest had a huge camp and made the list of Demons.
The main decision on coaching
As with last season, Ruff will have to decide for himself how to measure the team’s improvement this season. Is this a playoff ticket? Is he ranked higher in the tournament table than he was last season?
The Devils will step in as a team and be in more games than last season. In the accumulated Metropolitan Division, perhaps the “devils” could fall into the playoffs.