NHL 2017 Season: New Jersey Devils Pre-Season Evaluation
The 2016 – 17 New Jersey Devils season could not be described as a good one. For most people, it was below average, and this is closely reflected in the record held by the team. The finished off the season with a 28 – 40 – 14 record, and only half of their wins came from road games. The team hasn’t appeared in the playoffs for the last five years, and they’ll be hoping to turn things around this season.Have the new additions in the off season been enough to get this team back to winning ways? Let’s take a look and find out.
Nico Hischier Was Acquired in the Draft
Hischier was a first draft pick and has come off of an impressive season playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Playing for the Halifax Mooseheads he had a massively impressive season where he managed 38 goals and 48 assists for a total of 86 points from 57 games. Although the competition in the NHL will be much tougher, Hischier will be a player that the Devils can develop, and he’ll be an important part of their offensive strategy in the coming years.Noteworthy is that Nico is the first Swiss player to be first overall NHL Entry Draft pick, and head coach John Hynes will be hoping that his excellent skating skills and general hockey ability will translate to good results in the top league.
Marcus Johansson has Joined from the Capitals
Johansson is an effective player in center and on the wing, and he’s one of the better players to be signed to the team this year. He has been with the Washington Capitals for every season that he’s played in the NHL, and he has the historical results that indicate he could go on to be an important addition to this team. The 2016 – 17 season was his best so far in the league, where he scored 24 goals, 34 assists, and 58 points overall. His career NHL points total 188 from seven seasons in the league, and anyone looking for an improvement in the Devils’ offensive will see Johansson as an integral member of the squad.
Brian Strait Could Boost the Defense
Strait spent most of last season playing in the AHL for the Manitoba Moose. From 58 games, he managed 2 goals and 12 assists, a fairly impressive record for a defenseman. He previously spent four seasons with the New York Islanders in the NHL where he was a fairly consistent but underwhelming player. Like some of the players on this list, he’s a questionable trade for the Devils and doesn’t bring the kind of star power that we think the team needs at this stage.
Mirco Muller is Another Important Defensive Addition
Muller spent most of last season recovering from injury, and many will say that he failed to live up to expectations in the Sharks. With the Devils he will have a fresh start and a chance to prove why he was one of the first round draft picks when he first entered the NHL. The Devils need a stronger defense this year, and Mirco will be part of that defensive side. He hasn’t had the best record in the NHL, and even his AHL appearances have been average in the seasons where he was given plenty of time on the ice. Muller seems like a risky trade, but we’ll have to wait until the season begins to see if he is able to make a difference to New Jersey.
Brian Boyle Has Been Signed for Two years
It was announced last month that Drian Boyle had been signed to the Devils for two years, on a valuable $5.1 million contract. Boyle didn’t have the best 2016 – 17 season with just 21 appearances and only three assists for the year, but his previous seasons have been strong, and he averaged 22 points per season in his run with Tampa Bay Lightning. His short stint with the Maple Leafs will be one to forget, but he has the potential to make a good impact with the Devils, and he’ll be a good option to have in center. While he doesn’t have the star power of some of the other available centers in the NFL, his decade of experience in the league will be valuable to the team.
Has New Jersey Devils Done Enough to Improve Their Form in 2017 – 18?
It’s always hard to tell whether roster changes will make a huge difference in any ice hockey team. Winning games comes down to more than just a few new players, and the New Jersey Devils have untapped potential within their ranks that could be developed with the right training.The fact that improvement is needed throughout the team has been recognized by existing players. Defenseman Steven Santini recently said in an interview that “It’s a group effort. It’s not on the goalies, the d-men, or the forwards. With our coaches and all our staff, we have to find ways to win hockey games. We do that by just having a good training camp and getting off to a hot start.”Overall, the few new additions to the team don’t make the roster look much different to how it was in the previous year. There is plenty of experience coming into the team, but these aren’t exactly the kind of players that have been receiving the highest accolades in the NHL. Last season the team found it difficult to score goals, and that’s something that they will need to focus on. Marcus Johansson will be an important part of their offensive, and they also have some defenders on their side who know how to score goals.The Devils may miss out on the playoffs for a sixth year running. But we can at least see some optimism in a few of the additions, and internal development could mean a slow journey up towards a more respectable position in the league.