The New Jersey Devils roster could look very different with the trade deadline rapidly approaching. Any forward, defenseman or goalie could find a new home soon.
With uncertainty surrounding this team, fans want to know who the Devils are planning on building around. What pieces are here to stay? Specifically, which forwards are here for the long haul?
The Devils have many veteran defensemen on the trade block and wild inconsistency in the cage. However, the Devils have more desirable young talent on the offensive end. Let us look at how the future looks for these forwards.
Without question, Jack Hughes has been the most productive forward for the Devils this season. Though 38 games, he has 44 points and is shooting 14.3%. He is second on the team in points, only behind Jesper Bratt, who has accounted for 55 points so far this season. Nico Hischier rounds out the top three with 38 points in 50 games.
All three of those players are 23-years-old and younger. This youth is a sign of hope for the Devils’ faithful. The front office has a strong young core of talent to build around.
Most Devils fans could tell you that the team is building around Hischier and Hughes. The two top draft picks are crucial members of the Devils’ rebuild. Given their current production, they are not going anywhere.
However, Bratt is a restricted free agent at the end of the year. Another team may give him a desirable contract that the Devils cannot match. Hopefully, they retain Bratt and build around him.
Offensive Talent on the Move
In my last article, I talked about New Jersey players who are likely to be moved at this trade deadline. One of those players was Tomas Tatar. With 23 points in 55 games, he has solid production. However, those numbers would likely be higher on a contender. He would have teammates more likely to finish his assists, and more advantageous opportunities to put the puck in the back of the net.
It’s hard to predict who the Devils will trade considering the uncertainty around this rebuild. The Devils could move on from Andreas Johnsson and Pavel Zacha soon. Johnsson would be easy to part from, as he has only been a Devil for the past two seasons. However, Zacha has spent his entire seven-year career on the Devils.
Is the Forward Core Figured Out?
The simple answer is no. The Devils are at a crossroads as a franchise. They have been a losing team for the better half of a decade. Now, they need to engage in a serious rebuild or risk continuing their losing tradition.
Young stars like Hischier and Hughes will be here for the long haul. Besides that, no one is safe. The team will have to move on from long-tenured Devils, for a complete overhaul will make it easier to create a new culture. By allowing fan favorites to stay, the team runs the risk of allowing part of the losing tradition to stay around.
Because of the desperate need for a new identity, it’s hard to say if the Devils have figured out their forward situation. I think they are in a great spot with their young talent, but I have no idea who may be moved soon.