New Jersey Devils Q&A: On expectations, Hall, Henrique and more
September 4, 2017, 12:38 PM ET [7 Comments]
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With training camp set to open in a couple weeks, and the regular season soon to follow, I figured I'd do one last Q&A post before all the action gets underway.
Let's get right to it.
I don't know how good they'll be, but I'm comfortable saying they'll pick up more points than last season.
They added Marcus Johansson, they added Nico Hischier and, while unproven, there is a lot more speed and raw talent on defense than a year ago.
Key pieces like Cory Schneider and Taylor Hall are also coming off the worst seasons of their careers and there's reason to believe they'll bounce back.
The Travis Zajac injury hurts, and they play in the league's toughest division, but I don't think they'll have too much trouble clearing the 70 point plateau.
Quenneville is a pretty safe bet to make the team. He was an AHL all-star in his first year of professional hockey and he showed well with the big club when given the opportunity. I think he'll end up playing wing on the 3rd line and chipping in on special teams as well.
If Hall didn't have bad luck, he'd have no luck at all. He created endless amounts of chances last season and couldn't get anything to go, particularly at 5v5.
Zajac's injury may hurt Hall a bit -- he was at his best with Zajac -- but I think he should be able to score ~25 goals and put up 65+ points next season. His luck is bound to improve and highly skilled players like Johansson and Hischier should help him get an extra few points on the power play.
I don't think so. His defensive game -- more so at full-strength than on the penalty kill -- isn't as good as some would have you believe and I don't think the Devils' blue line is good enough to make up for that. Expecting him to produce vs top competition while covering for the inevitable mistakes that will be made by all the young blue liners isn't realistic.
Not unless they're sheltered with a lot of offensive zone starts and used more so as a scoring line. I like Zacha, but he's coming off a 24-point season and is still adjusting to playing center at the NHL level. I'd start him in the middle-6 and give him more minutes and responsibility as he shows he can handle it.
I'll go with Jesper Boqvist. He can skate and has excellent puck skills. I think he's a 1st round talent and the Devils were lucky to get him where they did.
It's certainly within the realm of possibility. The Devils have added some nice pieces but their defense remains a big issue, they play in an extremely tough division, and Zajac's injury doesn't help things. Even if some young players (like Zacha and Quenneville) take steps forwards, they'll still struggle to win games.
I think there could be a shake up even if the Devils are somewhat competitive this season. They really need an established top-4 defenseman and those don't come cheap. I wouldn't be surprised if Henrique is involved in a deal for a defenseman down the road, especially if some of the young centers (Hischier, Zacha, etc.) handle themselves well this season.
The Devils' offense may not be lights out, but it should be better than it has been in recent years. That poor soul should finally get *some* help.
It's hard to acquire quality defensemen, especially at this time of the year, so I think the Devils' plan is to give the kids (Butcher, Steve Santini, Mirco Mueller, etc.) a steady dose of minutes and find out what they have.
I don't know what kind of systematic changes John Hynes will, or won't, make but I think the speed and skill Johansson, Hischier and, potentially Michael McLeod, among others, add to the team will allow them to be more creative and dynamic, especially in the neutral zone.