After a season where they were only able to account for 19 wins, the New Jersey Devils are hoping for more success this season. They were second-to-last in the East Division last season, being only one game better than the Buffalo Sabres. Now that the divisions are realigned, the Devils are ready to face several playoff-hopeful teams in a competitive Metropolitan Division. In this article, I’ll outline what the Devils have done recently and what kind of season fans should expect.
Last Year’s Recap:
As I mentioned earlier, the Devils had a rather pitiful season last year. They were 26th in the league offensively last season and 28th in the league defensively. It doesn’t take a hockey expert to realize that these numbers aren’t going to cut it and certainly won’t help a team make the playoffs. The Devils’ top-three offensive threats last season were Pavel Zacha, Jack Hughes, and Yegor Sharangovich. They had 35, 31, and 30 points, respectively. However, all three of those players had a negative plus/minus. This team needs to improve holistically so the top scorers are in the plus, so the team can create a positive goal differential.
Goaltending was okay for Devils last season. Mackenzie Blackwood, the primary goaltender, had a .902 save percentage. He started 35 games and earned 14 wins for the Jersey Devils last year. He had a 3.04 GAA that he would like to improve upon this upcoming season to help the New Jersey Devils’ progress.
The New Jersey Devils are known as one of the youngest teams in the NHL. Since they have struggled in recent years, the rebuilding process has made the team younger and younger. They have a roster with an average age of 25.32 years old this season. While this is worrisome in terms of experience, it is a great indication of future success. This offseason, the team made sure to bring in some talented young studs to improve this roster.
The team’s biggest move of the offseason was bringing in free-agent defenseman Dougie Hamilton on a seven-year deal. The 28-year-old had a 20 plus/minus last season, with 42 points to his name. Also, they added 30-year-old left winger Tomas Tatar from the Montreal Canadians. He inked a 2-year deal worth $9 million.
After seeing Mackenzie Blackwood struggle last season, the New Jersey Devils brought in veteran goaltender Jonathan Bernier. Bernier played for a struggling Detroit Red Wings team last season. However, he managed a .914 save percentage with 2.99 goals against last year. The Bernier signing looks even better now, as Blackwood may miss time this season because he is unvaccinated. Regardless, this competition in the goalie room should help both these keepers improve their numbers this year.
Overall, I don’t think the Devils will improve tremendously this season. They have struggled these past few seasons and I don’t see them magically turning that around this season. They did make some big additions this offseason, which does raise expectations. I do believe they should do better than last season. However, I don’t expect them to make a significant jump.