We are nine days away from the start of the NHL season. The scheduling of your Fantasy Hockey drafts have begun. The DraftKit is on sale and it is time to start previewing the 2016-17 NHL season.
I will be previewing two teams every day and each preview will consist of: Projected Line Combinations, a breakdown of each team’s top Fantasy assets, a look at their goaltending situation and 2016-17 NHL Standings projection.
If you don’t want to wait for the previews, buy our 2016-17 DraftKit—which has previews for every team as well as projections for over 300 players and goalies. You will get rankings and projections on here over the next few weeks, but why wait, when you can get it all right now for just $4.95?
Let’s take a look at the New Jersey Devils.
|Taylor Hall – LW – (from EDM)||Adam Larsson – D – (to EDM)|
|Kyle Quincey – D – (from DET)||David Schlemko – D – (to SJS)|
|Beau Bennett – RW – (from PIT)||Jordin Tootoo – RW – (to CHI)|
|Ben Lovejoy – D – (from PIT)||Ryan Clowe – LW – (Retired)|
|Vernon Fiddler – C – (from DAL)||Joe Whitney – RW – (to NYI)|
By: Michael Bondy (@)
The New Jersey Devil was once an old folk story locals were terrified of… the New Jersey Devils are currently a hockey team many local people and fans are having the same fears and doubts about on the ice. The Devils come into the 2016-17 season looking to jump above 27th in league scoring for the first time in a half decade. After closing out last season ranked last with 2.22 goals per game (G/PG), management made one of the biggest deals of the summer in trading defenseman Adam Larsson for superstar winger Taylor Hall. With the addition of Hall and other smaller pieces, the Devils are slowly starting to gain an identity, something we have not seen for many years. They will continue to be led by their All-star goaltender Cory Schneider, who will yet again start around 60 games with the hope of guiding his team back to the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12.
The Devils’ unimpressive offence was led by a surprisingly strong breakout campaign from 25-year-old Kyle Palmieri, who potted a career-high 30 goals in his first year in New Jersey. Palmieri will look to prove that last season was anything but a fluke, as he will likely line up on a line with the newcomer, Hall. The first line should more than likely be rounded out by a familiar face to Hall, in Adam Henrique. Hall and Henrique dominated the OHL together in 2008-2009 en route to a Memorial Cup victory with the Windsor Spitfires. The Devils are hoping that they can rekindle that chemistry quickly as Henrique tries to go for his third 50-point season in this, his sixth career campaign. Hall’s superior playmaking ability mixed with Henrique’s grit and scoring talents (30 G in 2015-16) could lead to a lethal combination for the Devils for many years to come. Hall ranks third among all left wingers in the NHL with 233 points over the last four years and at the ripe age of 24 he will be looking to improve on both his 55 points-per-season career average, as well as his 63.5 games played that he has averaged across his injury filled six-year career. The Devils second line is led by a few veterans—Travis Zajac, who will return for his 10th season with the Devils and sniper Michael Cammalleri. Cammalleri was enjoying a very nice year in 2015-16 before a season-ending hand injury closed out his campaign (14G / 24A in 42 games). The second line will likely be rounded out by Devante Smith-Pelly. The former Anaheim Duck and Montreal Canadien was acquired from Montreal last season and picked up 13 points (8G / 5A) in just 18 games after the trade—best production of his young career. He will be looking to continue his successful scoring habits as he looks for a true, full 82-game breakout season. The Devils bottom six forwards should feature the exciting talents of 2015 No.6 overall pick Pavel Zacha who tries to prove his skills are in fact NHL-ready. The Devils acquired Beau Bennett from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the offseason, who is filled with offensive ability, but has had an incredibly difficult time staying healthy during his four years with Pittsburgh. Overall, if the Devils’ forwards can stay healthy, they should be improved enough to get out of the leagues scoring basement for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
Where the Devils truly draw the short card is with their average defensive unit. Veteran presence Andy Greene will yet again step in as the leader on the blueline, but doesn’t give much in the way of fantasy value. The one bright spot with high potential for a big uptick in both points and minutes is 22-year-old Damon Severson who took a small step forward last year but screams breakout heading into 2016-17. With only 123 career games to his name, he will continue to develop into the solid two-way defenseman that will play at the top of the Devils’ blueline. With premium ice time at both even strength as well as the new and improved power play, Severson could be a late, successful sleeper pick in many fantasy drafts. The defensive unit is closed out by the likes of John Moore, Ben Lovejoy, Jon Merrill and the recently signed Kyle Quincey. Without a solidified, true No.1 defenseman, the Devils’ will likely employ a very defensive system, like they have in years past to help make things easier on their blueline and limiting the shots fired at Schneider—New Jersey ranked seventh best in that category a season ago.
Luckily, with their weak blue line, the Devils at least have a very strong presence between the pipes. Since joining the Devils three years ago, Schneider has a save percentage of .924, which ranks him first among all goaltenders that have started at least 50 games per season. He has consistently started close to 60 games, if healthy, and post high-end splits. Keith Kinkaid returns as Schneider’s back-up and will look to continue to offer solid starts when called upon.
The Devils are in a much better position than they were a year ago at this time, but unfortunately do not have enough tools yet to be considered a contender in the Eastern Conference. The huge addition of Hall finally adds a superstar into the mix, but they’re going to need some of their young, bottom-6 talent to take strides if they’re going to return to the postseason. New Jersey can only go up from where they were offensively last year, so expect a bump in goal-scoring, but don’t be mistaken, this group is miles away from an offensive juggernaut.
Devils in the DFO Top 275:
- 48. Taylor Hall – LW
- 61. Cory Schneider – G
- 117. Adam Henrique – C
- 141. Kyle Palmieri – RW
- 232. Mike Cammalleri – LW
- 241. Damon Severson – D
2016-17 Season Projection:
The Devils should certainly improve offensively and they are carried by one of the best goalie in the NHL. With those two things working in their favour, New Jersey should top their 84 points from a season ago, but will likely find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs.