The New Jersey Devils made a surprise return to the Stanley Cup Finals last season after missing the playoffs in the five previous seasons.
The Devils made the playoffs on the back of a terrific performance from Taylor Hall. The 26-year-old set career-highs in goals (39), assists (54) and points (93), virtually dragging the rest of the team with a +5.0 relative Corsi. New Jersey returns essentially the same team this season, but will likely have a difficult time repeating what they did in a tough Metropolitan Division and a very strong Eastern Conference.
➕ Eric Gryba (Free Agency)
➕ Kurtis Gabriel (Free Agency)
➕ Eric Tangradi (Free Agency)
➕ John Ramage (Free Agency)
Hall spend most of last season with 2017 No.1 overall pick Nico Hischier, who enjoyed a fine rookie campaign. Hischier spent 76.1 percent of his 5v5 ice-time with Hall and -1.72 drop in CorsiFor% and -10.94 drop in GoalsFor% away from Hall. The undersized Jesper Bratt is expected to join them on the right-side, but doesn’t carry a lot of standalone fantasy value.
Their second-line will receive a boost this season with the return of Marcus Johansson. The 27-year-old missed 53 games last season with a variety of ailments and he will join Kyle Palmieri, who has been a consistent force since joining the Devils—averaging 29 goals and 27 assists (56 points) per 82 games in three seasons.
The bottom-6 is a little more unclear. Veterans Travis Zajac and Brian Boyle figure to centre the third and fourth line while Drew Stafford is on a PTO and may return in 2019. Blake Coleman, Miles Wood (still unsigned) and Stefan Noesen will battle with the likes of John Quenneville, Michael McLeod and Joey Anderson for the remaining three spots. McLeod is the most intriguing prospect of the bunch. The No.12 overall pick in 2016 turned pro after finishing his fourth season in Mississauga (OHL) with 44 points (16G / 28A) in 38 games. It seems highly likely that he starts the year in Binghamton (AHL) though.
According to Corsica Hockey Ratings, this current configuration has the Devils offence ranked No.13 in the NHL.
On the blueline, New Jersey added Sami Vatanen via trade and he scored three gaols with 25 assists (28 points) in 57 games after joining the Devils. Vatanen will likely share the power-play duties with second-year defenseman Will Butcher, who led all rookie blueliners with 44 points (5G / 39A) last season.
They are likely the only two Devils’ who will be fantasy relevant this season, but this unit has some upside with Damon Severson and Mirco Mueller seemingly still improving.
Overall this blueline ranks No.15 in the NHL according to Corsica Hockey.
Cory Schneider is heading into his sixth season in New Jersey but is coming off of the worst year of his career. Schneider was limited to 40 starts due to injury, but has been durable throughout his first 10 seasons. Schneider has posted a negative Goals Saved Above Average in back-to-back seasons, but has shown to be one of the better goalies in the NHL prior to that. Keith Kinkaid was solid in relief last year, but the Devils aren’t good enough for Kinkaid to carry standalone fantasy value at the start of the 2018-19 season.
|Taylor Hall (30)||Taylor Hall (49)||Taylor Hall (79)||Kyle Palmieri (10)|
|Kyle Palmieri (27)||Nico Hischier (36)||Nico Hischier (61)||Taylor Hall (10)|
|Nico Hischier (25)||Will Butcher (35)||Kyle Palmieri (54)||Nico Hischier (5)|
Devils in the DFO Top 300
- 18. Taylor Hall — LW5
- 91. Cory Schneider — G15
- 103. Nico Hischier — C28
- 124. Kyle Palmieri — RW24
- 159. Will Butcher — D40
- 186. Sami Vatanen — D50
- 244. Jesper Bratt — RW49
- 265. Keith Kinkaid — G45
- 287. Marcus Johansson — LW48
Predicted Metropolitan Standings
Spots 6-8 will be revealed upon the release of our previews for each respective team.
It is going to be extremely tough for the Devils to beat out the Penguins, Capitals, Flyers or Blue Jackets this season, those teams simply have more talent. Equally, the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers all look like playoff teams in the Atlantic, which leaves the Devils on the outside looking in for the sixth time in seven years.