2017-18 Season Preview: New Jersey Devils

Updated: October 13, 2017 at 7:50 pm by Brock Seguin

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In 2011-12, the New Jersey Devils shockingly made the Stanley Cup Final and have missed the playoffs in the five seasons since.

Over that stretch, the Devils have the fourth worst record in the NHL at 152-160-64 (368 points) while ranking 12th in goals against (2.58) and 29th in goals for (2.25). New Jersey has historically been near the bottom in goal-scoring, but that could change soon after a solid summer for the Devils’ front office.

The Devils were handed a gift by winning the draft lottery and used the No.1 overall pick to select Nico Hischier from the Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL). The Swiss native recorded 86 points (38G / 48A) in 57 games with Halifax and is expected to be in the opening night roster in 2017-18. Hischier is a highly skilled centre that works hard on every shift and he will bring plenty of excitement to a New Jersey team that has been devoid of excitement for many years. It remains to be seen where Hischier will open the season on the depth chart, but if he is paired with Taylor Hall, the two could become one of the most dynamic young duos in the NHL. At a quick glance, Hall’s debut season in New Jersey wasn’t overly impressive. However, the former Oiler winger had a strong 52.2 CorsiFor% and a 7.6 relative Corsi. With the Devils adding not only Hischier but another strong playmaker in Marcus Johansson, Hall is poised for a better campaign. Hall is currently falling into the eighth round, but carries a 20-goal, 30-assist floor and 25-goal, 40-assist upside—making him worthy of a fifth-round selection.

LW C RW
Taylor Hall
TAYLOR HALL
Pavel Zacha
PAVEL ZACHA
Kyle Palmieri
KYLE PALMIERI
Marcus Johansson
MARCUS JOHANSSON
Nico Hischier
NICO HISCHIER
Drew Stafford
DREW STAFFORD
Joseph Blandisi
JOSEPH BLANDISI
Adam Henrique
ADAM HENRIQUE
John Quenneville
JOHN QUENNEVILLE
Miles Wood
MILES WOOD
Brian Boyle
BRIAN BOYLE
Stefan Noesen
STEFAN NOESEN

Also up front, the Devils have Kyle Palmieri, who has loved his move to New Jersey. In his first two years with the Devils, Palmieri is quietly tied for 20th in the NHL in goals (56) and tied for 55th in points (110). With Travis Zajac out for the start of the season, Pavel Zacha will play an expanded role early on. The 20-year-old, former No.6 overall pick has good size (6-foot-3 | 210 lbs) and offensive ability and increased ice-time will lead to improved results. Fellow centre Adam Henrique unsurprisingly failed to match his 30 goals from 2015-16, going 20-20 in 82 games last year. The former third-round pick has carried an ugly 46.2 CF% in the last three seasons and until that improves don’t expect Henrique to improve too much on his 20-20 season.

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Andy Greene
ANDY GREENE
Damon Severson
DAMON SEVERSON
John Moore
JOHN MOORE
Ben Lovejoy
BEN LOVEJOY
Will Butcher
WILL BUTCHER
Steven Santini
STEVEN SANTINI

The Devils’ blueline also features a new-look. They are led by Damon Severson, who has 4.0 relative Corsi in his first 203 career NHL games and is coming off of a career-year, in which he posted 31 points (3G / 28A) in 80 games. Look for the 23-year-old to improve on those numbers yet again. Severson is known for his massive point-shot, but is shooting just 2.9 percent for his career. That number is going to improve at some point and he’ll instantly become a double-digit goal threat. Veterans Andy Greene, John Moore and Ben Lovejoy are all still kicking around, but offer little in terms of fantasy value. However, offseason college free agent signee Will Butcher carries some sleeper value (if he makes the opening night lineup). Butcher turns pro after four seasons at the University of Denver and comes in having posted 16 goals and 53 assists (69 points) in 82 games over the last two seasons. The Devils don’t have a lot of D-depth or power-play weapons, which could afford Butcher big minutes in year-one. He will battle with fellow newcomer Mirco Mueller for what might be the No.6 spot.

GOALIES
Cory Schneider
CORY SCHNEIDER
Keith Kinkaid
KEITH KINKAID

Where the Devils are bound to improve this season is between the pipes. Prior to 2016-17, Cory Schneider ranked tied for second in the NHL in SV% (.924), third in GAA (2.14) and tied for 12th in shutouts (12) in his first three seasons in New Jersey. Last year he struggled to the 38th best GAA (2.82) and SV% (.908). He might not get back to the top-3 numbers from the years previous, but he should post splits within the top-10. Keith Kinkaid is back as their No.2, but likely won’t see any more than 20 starts with Schneider being the workhorse.

Season Outlook

The Devils are heading in the right direction, the additions of Hischier, Johansson, Butcher, Drew Stafford and Brian Boyle should have a profound affect on their overall success, but they remain a bottom feeder in a very strong Metropolitan Division.

Metropolitan

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  4. 4. Columbus Blue Jackets
  5. 5. Carolina Hurricanes
  6. 6.
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  8. 8. New Jersey Devils

Projections

Goals Assists Points
Kyle Palmieri (RW) 29 Taylor Hall (LW) 44 Taylor Hall (LW) 69
Taylor Hall (LW) 25 Damon Severson (D)  33  Kyle Palmieri (RW) 57
Nico Hischier (C) 24  M. Johansson (RW) 31 Nico Hischier (C) 53
Adam Henrique (C) 22 Nico Hischier (C) 29 M. Johansson (RW) 49
M. Johansson (RW) 18 Kyle Palmieri (RW)  28 Adam Henrique (C) 43

Fantasy Rankings (Top 350)

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Brock Seguin

Brock has been the Editor-In-Chief of DailyFaceoff.com since the start of the 2012-13 season, the Host of the DFO Podcast since 2015 and Editor-In-Chief of DailyDugout since the 2017 season.
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