32 Teams In 32 Days: New Jersey Devils
Jack Hughes is ready to take off.
In Today’s 32 Team Outlook we examine the New Jersey Devils and their top player, Jack Hughes, who is ready to really take off as one of the league’s elite players.
Be sure to check out yesterday’s look at the Carolina Hurricanes and what they need to go from a good team to a great team.
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The past decade has not been great to the New Jersey Devils.
Since making a Stanley Cup Final run in 2012, the Devils have missed the playoffs in nine out of 10 seasons, making one random appearance in 2017-18 on the back of Taylor Hall’s MVP season. They lost in five games, giving them just a single postseason win in 10 years. Every other team in the NHL with the lone exception of Seattle (who has played just one season) has won at least four game playoff games during that stretch, while only two (Florida with nine and Arizona with four) have failed to win at least 10 playoff games.
In recent years it certainly has not been for a lack of trying on the front office’s part.
They have attempted to throw big money at players and acquiring big-name talents, including Hall, P.K. Subban, Dougie Hamilton, Ondrej Palat, and several second-tier free agents and trades (Tomas Tatar, Nikita Gusev, Marcus Johansson).
Individually, some of those additions have worked out better than others. The team performance, unfortunately for them, has remained the same: Bad. They have been stuck at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference and struggled to take any sort of significant step forward.
There is some reason for increased optimism heading into the 2022-23 season.
Along with the additions of Palat, John Marino, and Vitek Vanecek, the Devils should also have healthier season from Hamilton (he missed 20 games on defense in his first year with the team) and have a pretty strong core of young players on the rise.
Nico Hischier is a wonderful two-way player and just hitting his prime, Jesper Bratt had a breakout performance in 2021-22, Yegor Sherangovich looks like somebody that can be a core piece, while 2020 first-round pick Dawson Mercer had an outstanding rookie season.
The biggest possible development of them all will be a fully healthy Jack Hughes taking a massive leap forward toward superstardom. This should be the year it happens.
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