The New Jersey Devils’ opening night is on October 13th. This will begin another full 82-game season. Again Devils fans will be asking will this team finally make the playoffs. Being a Devils fan it has been tough in the last few seasons. Last season they finished in seventh place in the metropolitan division. Is it time for the young Devils to take the step forward?
In the offseason, the Devils made some coaching changes. On April 29th the team parted ways with assistant coach Alan Nasreddine. Immediately after Mark Recchi was hired to replace him. Naserddine has been the team’s assistant coach, since 2015. Later on July 10th, the Devils made another coaching change by hiring Andrew Brunette as associate coach Most recently the Devils hired their newest assistant coach Sergei Brylin. He is making his Devils return. Brylin played his last season with the Devils and the NHL in 2007. Brylin was part of all three of the Devil’s Stanley cup championship seasons. Hopefully, his winning experience helps take this young team past the finish line.
Not too many significant moves that drastically change the Devil’s roster. These moves could potentially be improvements. First, the team sent Pavel Zacha to Boston in exchange for Erik Haula. Second, the Devils bolster up the defense by drafting Simon Nemec and acquiring John Marino. Defensemen Ty Smith was part of the deal to Pittsburgh to acquire Marino. Lastly, the Devils signed forward Ondrej Palat. Palat was recently part of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He is a three-time Stanley cup champ.
Moving Zacha was necessary because he never tapped into his potential. The Devils expected more from him and finally, they let him go. Halua should be an upgrade over Zacha. The team’s defense was a weak point last season. Nemec and Marino will most likely help. It is unclear if Nemec will be ready for the start of the season. The Devils do lose a popular player in Ty Smith. He was not such a bad player but I think fans will prefer Marino over him. Palat has been part of champion success and could be a better version of Tomas Tatar. Palat could also be a nice veteran for the young players.
One of the biggest reasons the Devils fail to make the playoffs is their tough division. The metropolitan division is arguable the toughest division in the NHL. There are a lot of teams to highlight like the Penguins, Capitals, and rival Rangers. It is hard to place the Devils higher in the standings when better teams are ahead of them.
Fans should not expect a playoff appearance from the Devils this season. What fans should be hopeful for is the young talent they do have. There can be a bright future for them if the young talent can continue to develop. It might be frustrating now but in a few years, they could be competing for a cup.