New Jersey Devils 2021 Season Preview
(Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sport)

Last season was tough for the New Jersey Devils. They only scored 68 points in 69 games and did not have the year of growth they were expecting to have. It’s kind of my thing to blame Jack Hughes for everything that goes wrong but the kid was only 18 at the beginning of the season. (I was also only 18 at the beginning of the season which is why I feel obligated to poke fun at him.) I think coaching and management relied too heavily on Hughes and PK Subban to come in and save this team in one season. 

Key Additions: Ryan Murray (Columbus Blue Jackets) 

Ryan Murray is a defenseman coming from Columbus. He was a strong defenseman with the Blue Jackets and having a strong D zone this season is really important in Jersey if they plan to be successful. 

Losses: Corey Schnieder (Vancouver Canucks) 

Corey Schnieder signed with the Vancouver Canucks in free agency as apart of the great goalie shuffle. He had been with the Devils since 2013 and before that, he had played with Vancouver since 2010. He was a strong goaltender in New Jersey but there’s only so much you can do with an inconsistent defense. 

Forward Line Predictions: 
Nikita Gusev Nico Hischier Kyle Palmier 
Jesper Boqvist Jack Hughes Andreas Johnsson
Janne KuokkanenTravis Zajac Jesper Bratt
Brett Seney Pavel Zacha Miles Wood 
Defensive Pairing Predictions: 
Will Butcher PK Subban 
Ryan Murray Damon Severson
Dmitry Kulikov Connor Garrick 
In the net: 

The New Jersey Devils recently signed Corey Crawford from the Chicago Blackhawks in free agency. Crawford played for the Blackhawks during both of their most recent Stanely Cup wins. Mackenzie Blackwood is a good goaltender but now he gets to see a Stanely Cup winning goalie and grow and learn from him. 

Jack Hughes or bust?

Jack Hughes playing 9 games against the Flyers and the Islanders and the Penguins and teams with more physicality than he has and more experience than he does, will be very good for him. Obviously, going first overall in the draft, he has to be good at what he does, right? Right. But he has to learn how to make things happen rather than waiting for them to happen before he does the work. He’s used to being The Guy on the NTDP but in Jersey, he’s not. Matt Barzal had to do the same thing in Long Island. Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews had to do it in Toronto. It’s a very normal thing to happen to rookies and young players. Am I going to continue to poke fun at him and blame all of my problems on him? Absolutely. It’s fun. 

The Verdict: 

There are still a lot of questions about the New Jersey Devils. They got a new head coach, Lindy Ruff from the Rangers, and a new assistant coach, Mark Recchi from the Pittsburgh Penguins. I don’t really think things are perfectly placed for them to make the playoffs.  If they do qualify for the playoffs this season, I don’t think they’ll make it past the first round because they aren’t strong enough all around. They have a few strong players strewn throughout but, it’s not consistent. However, it will be a year more successful than last and a step in the right direction. 

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