In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2019-2020 standings. I will first note some ongoing trends that are happening in the league. Goals scored per game went up for the fourth consecutive season (at 3.01 goals per game last year), shots against finally dipped last season to 31.3 per game after increasing for four consecutive seasons previously. It’s clear the league’s push towards offense is yielding its intended effect.
Twelfth up are the New Jersey Devils who are in their 36th season as an NHL team. I was surprised to see that after that dominant 1994-2003 stretch where they won three Stanley Cups they have more recently made the playoffs once in the last seven seasons (after making it to the NHL finals in 2011-2012 season).
2018 – 2019 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 29th
- Goals for Rank: 25th
- Goals against Rank: 25th
- PP Rank: 21st
- PK Rank: 4th
Projected 2019-2020 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 19th
- Eastern Conference Standings: 11th
- Metropolitan Division Standings: 6th
- Coach: John Hynes (5th season with the Devils 141-146-41 regular season, 1-4 post season)
On offense, they are one year removed from Taylor Hall’s Hart Memorial season where he put up 39 goals and 93 points. The team added a #1 overall pick in this most recent draft Jack Hughes who will join Nico Hischier, #1 pick in the 2017 draft. The addition of Wayne Simmonds gives a nice power play boost. This team has a measure of extremes with Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt all under 22 years old to go alongside Travis Zejac and Wayne Simmonds who are over 30. Nikita Gusev is a wild card who could provide a nice depth to their lines. I think they make a nice step forward offensively as they continue to build their offense.
Defensively, the team added PK Subban providing a nice boost to their defense. Will Butcher had a solid year last year and will likely be paired with PK Subban as the top unit. I believe in Sami Vatanen as a valuable defensemen too but Andy Greene never materialized into what they hoped and I don’t feel great about Ty Smith and Damon Severson as of now but overall their defense should be better than last season.
In net, Cory Schneider had a rough year with a 3.03 GAA and a .903 SV% putting him outside the top 30 in both categories. Hip surgery limited his game play last season as Keith Kincaid filled in and did worse. I anticipate better play out of Cory Schneider this season, he’s on the older side at 33 but last years numbers were the lowest he showed in 10 years.
Behind the bench, John Hynes likes to utilize analytics heavy in his coaching decisions and from my point of view, it has not worked well thus far. He did lose his star player for a majority of the season last year and the team has been working to rebuild but for me this is a key year to prove it and see what he can do with some new players and young talent in plenty.
- Wayne Simmonds
- PK Subban
- Nikita Gusev
- Keith Kincaid
Prospects and Picks
Jack Hughes — The #1 overall pick this season will likely be joining the team after an impressive 48 point performance across 24 games with the development team last season. He is mature well beyond his years and most recently became the youngest player to represent team USA in the IIHF World Championship at the age of 17.
Sleeper Fantasy Asset
Nico Hischier — In his second year he hit a slight sophomore slump playing in 69 games and scoring 47 points. He was limited additionally by the fact that lineman Taylor Hall played just 33 games. Given a full season on that top line I think Nico tops 25 goals and 60 points.
Cap Situation: (per CapFriendly)
$72.7MM Spent; $8.7MM in Cap room; 21 players signed.