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2018-2019 NHL Preview: New Jersey Devils

How far can Hart winning Taylor carry the team?

2018 NHL Awards - Press Room Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2017-2018 standings. Seventh up are the New Jersey Devils (currently in their 36th year in the NHL) who surprised many by coming from the first overall pick in the 2017 NHL draft to making the playoffs and finishing 14th overall. The playoff berth snapped a five year playoff drought (which came off a Stanley Cup finals loss to the LA Kings in 2011-2012).

2017 – 2018 NHL Stats:

NHL Standings: 14th
Goals for Rank: 14th
Goals against Rank: 17th
PP Rank: 10th
PK Rank: 7th

Projected 2018-2019 NHL Stats

NHL Standings: 25th
Eastern Conference Standings: 13th
Metropolitan Division Standings: 7th
Coach: John Hynes 4th season as Devils coach (110-105-31 regular season; 1-4 playoffs).

Overview:

I know this projection seems weird. They made the playoffs, they had respectable goal scoring, defense, power play and penalty kill. To me this team had a lot click together last year (including an epic effort from Taylor Hall) and I don’t see that replicating this year. Call this a gut call but outside of Taylor Hall and maybe a slight step up from Nico Hishier there isn’t a ton of offensive power behind them. I think Kyle Palmieri, Jesper Bratt and Miles Wood will be making a step back, all three were above 10% on shooting percentage and showed a great breakout but might not be as close to 50 points as they were. On defense Andy Greene and Sami Vatanen are a solid top 2 but I feel like the Devils strength is more in a decent top four with Will Butcher and Damon Severson behind them. Cory Schneider was very average in net (for a second consecutive year) posting 2.93 GAA and .907 Sv% as he helped with 17 wins in his 40 starts. He’s now 32 and might be on the start of a decline, after years of helping hold down the backend, this could be a cause for concern for them. Add to all of this a very competitive Metropolitan division and I think New Jersey sits closer to the bottom. Long term they have done the right things, this year is a ““sophomore slump” in the process as they regress back a bit after a quantum leap forward.

Major Additions:

Major Subtractions:

Patrick Maroon, Michael Grabner

Prospects and Picks:

-Ty Smith. The 17th overall pick in the 2018 draft scored a respectable 73 points across 69 games in the WHL last year. He could be a defensemen in the mold of Adam Boqvist who can carry the puck up ice and really be an offensive powerhouse. His game is emerging with more confidence but he needs to get bigger before he can create an impact in the NHL

-Michael McLeod. He has leadership command to him. He has size, he has good on-ice vision and he cracked the AHL last year with 1 point in six games after averaging over a point a game in the OHL for three years. He will be fighting for a roster spot this year and there is a 50/50 chance he gets it. He has the physical presence and most recently, time spent in international play to help his pedigree.

Sleeper Fantasy Asset:

-Nico Hischier. So this one is a low hanging fruit but I think of all of the players on this team I could see a sophomore slump coming from Miles Wood and Will Butcher but not Nico. With just 9 power play points last year on a line with Taylor Hall I think we see an increase there and more assists such that he’s closer to 60 points from the 52 he scored last season. He did not shoot the puck as much as he could have and one could tell as the season progressed he became more and more comfortable in NHL play. After 11 points in November it went down to 6 points in December and January, up to 8 in February and 9 in March with his SOG ticking up as well as his shooting percentage.

Cap Situation:

$60.5MM Spent; $20M in Cap room; 18 players signed; average team age 26

Poll

Do the Devils make the playoffs this year?

This poll is closed

  • 89%
    Yes they do.
    (17 votes)
  • 10%
    No they don’t.
    (2 votes)
19 votes total Vote Now