The New Jersey Devils were a mean team when I was a kid. They had Scott Stevens. They had Lyle Odelein. They had Ken Daneyko. They had Jason Arnott and Bobby Holik. And while those guys distracted you, Scott Niedermayer and Brian Rafalski were breaking out of their own zone with the puck.
They were bullies. It worked. They won 3 Stanley Cups between 1995 and 2003.
Now, they aren’t really mean. They’re fast.
Taylor Hall – The 1st overall pick in 2010 hasn’t had the career many thought he would. The Oilers traded him to New Jersey after realizing that McDavid was their future and Hall had no place in it. If Hall stays healthy, he could be a 70-point player in this league. The Devils sure hope he is.
Nico Hischier – Oh look, another 1st overall pick! This time from the 2017 Draft. Hischier is fast, has quick hands, and was born in 1999. I like what I’ve seen from him and think he could be a big time player some day. Time will tell.
Jesper Bratt – If I had written this preview before the season started, I wouldn’t even had known who Mr. Bratt was. Apparently he’s a 6th round pick from 2016 and has 10 points in 10 games so far. Onward and upward, Jesper!
Notable: Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri, Pavel Zacha
Will Butcher – Sometimes, college prospects aren’t all that their chopped up to be. Sorry, I had to stretch for a butcher joke. So far, he’s been impressive with 11 assists in 10 games – 7 of which coming on the power-play. Scott Niedermayer-esque.
Andy Greene – Every time I’m reminded that he’s the captain of the team, I react as if it’s the first time I’m hearing the news. He’s been with the Devils since 2006; he deserves the C. His contributions will come on the defensive end and in the locker room.
Damon Severson – The 23-year-old was an offensive defenseman when he played in the WHL, and last year he started to show why when he put up 31 points. That might not seem like a lot, but the Devils didn’t score a lot last year. He hasn’t reached his ceiling yet.
Notable: John Moore
Corey Schneider – He was acquired, dramatically, at the 2013 Draft which was held in New Jersey. The Devils traded their 9th pick (Bo Horvat) to Vancouver, who seemingly didn’t want to keep any of their good goalies anymore. Schneider is a solid goaltender who can bail a young team out when they make mistakes.
Keith Kinkaid – My friend and I went to a Leafs game last year when they played the Devils. Kinkaid was in net that night. We were sitting close to him. We were yelling “Kiiiiiiinkaaaaaaaid”. The fans around us stared at us and didn’t join in on the fun.
1. The Devils have made the playoffs once (2012) in the last seven years. They went all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals (somehow!) that year.
2. If you don’t think of David Puddy wearing face paint and screaming “The Deviiiiiils!!”, when you think of this team, are you really a fan of Seinfeld?
3. Between the 1989-90 and 2009-10 seasons, the Devils made the playoffs in all but one.
4. Last season, the Devils scored 183 goals. This was the 3rd lowest total in the NHL.
5. They are off to an 8-2 start this season after only winning 28 games last year and finishing last in the Eastern Conference.
WHAT CHRIS THINKS
New Jersey are the biggest candidate for a rebound this year. They had a dreadful run where then won 3 times in their last 23 games but could surprise some people this year.
LAST MINUTE OF PLAY
Are playoffs possible? Sure, anything is possible. Are they likely? I don’t think so, despite their hot start. This is still a young team that has some growing to do.
How will they adjust now that other teams have a scouting report on their young players? I think some struggles are in their future. And that’s okay.
Then again, the Leafs made the playoffs last season with a really young team, so who am I to write the Devils off?
Regardless, I think they have a chance to make some noise in the next 2-3 years as long as they continue to draft and develop well.
ONE WILD PREDICTION
Taylor Hall puts up 82 points this season.