Devils’ Season Preview: Hisshere, Hughes drives a core aiming to heat up

The 2022-23 NHL season begins October 7. With training camps opening soon, takes a look at the three keys, the inside scoop on roster questions, and the predicted lineup for each of the 32 teams. Today, the New Jersey Devils.

Fitness Trainer: Lindy Ruff (season 3)

Last season: 27-46-9, 7th place in the capital division; Did not qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs

3 keys

1. The best goalkeeper

Demons hope in the beginning Mackenzie Blackwood It’s getting better this season, but as insurance, they got a goalkeeper Vitik Vanishek in a deal with Washington Capitals on July 8. Blackwood was limited to 25 games (9-10-4, 3.39 goals-to-average, 892 saves) due to illness and a left heel injury. Jonathan Bernier, who signed a two-year contract on July 28, 2021, played 10 matches (4-4-1, 3.06 GAA, 0.902 save percentage) before moving to an injured reserve with a thigh injury. Vanecek was 20-12-6 with a 2.67 GAA and .908 savings percentage in 42 games with the Capitals last season.

2. More crime

Last season was the first time since 2011-12 that New Jersey had at least four players with at least 20 goals. centers Jack Hughes Nico Hescher (26 goals each) and strikers Jesper Pratt (24 goals) and Igor Sharangowicz (21 goals) are both expected to continue to rise in attack. future prospects Fabian Zetterlund And the Alexander Holtz Each must follow this path on their way to earning a more prominent role; Zetterlund scored 52 points (24 goals, 28 assists) in 58 NHL games for Utica last season and Holtz scored 51 points (26 goals, 25 assists) in 52 AHL games. The Devils have not finished in the top 15 of the National Hockey League in goals they have scored in the past four seasons (15th place in 2017-18; 243 goals).

3. Energy play production

Andrew Brunet, who was named co-head coach on July 15, is expected to help run the power game that ranked 28th in the NHL (15.6 percent) for the second consecutive season. The brunette took second place in the voting for the Jack Adams NHL Coach of the Year award with the Florida Panthers, who tied for fifth in the NHL on strong play last season (24.4). New Jersey’s top 20 in the NHL has yet to finish on power in the past four seasons; They ranked 10th in 2017-2018 (21.4%).

Video: CAR @ NJD: Hisshere doubles the Demons’ lead in 3rd place

Roster Rondon

making the cut

It’s time for Holtz, named No. 7 in the 2020 NHL Draft, and Zetterlund (No. 63, 2017 NHL Draft) each show to be primetime ready. Holtz delivers a massive shot and will boost power play. Zetterlund plays an honest and hard-core game, with a knack for generating pressure in the attacking area. Each will likely take a spot in the top nine, but that should prove to be Lindy Raff’s coaching during bootcamp.

The most interesting addition

straight ahead Ondrej Balat Signing a five-year contract on July 14, he is expected to play a big front-row role with Hughes or Hisshere. The 31-year-old, who will provide needed experience and boost the front-check, helped the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup in 2020 and 2021 when he proved to be a dynamic complementing piece on the streak with Nikita Kucherov And the Brayden Point. Balat scored 49 points (18 goals and 31 assists) in 77 games last season and 21 points (11 goals and 10 assists) in 23 Stanley Cup games.

The biggest possible surprise

defenseman John Marino, acquired in a deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins on July 16, has 25 points (1 goal, 24 assists), was third among Penguins defenders in blocking shots (88) and tied for second place in fast food (43) in 81 games Last season . The 25-year-old’s right-handed shot takes pride in playing off the disc, and his ability to move fast should complement the strength of the New Jersey front group.

ready to hack

Hughes has the look of a player on the cusp of becoming a star. The 21-year-old missed 17 games with a dislocated shoulder but still had 56 points (26 goals and 30 assists) in 49 games last season. The Devils led in points per game (1.14), power play goals (six) and shot percentage (15.8; played at least 10 games) and ranked first among the New Jersey forwards in average ice time (19:34). He was the youngest player in the 2022 NHL All-Star Game and is on his way to becoming one of the most dynamic players in the league.

sleeping fantasy

Holtz, R.W. (unpolished average in fiction)– Nearly a point player per game in the AHL last season, Holtz could earn a top-six with a valuable position at Hughes or Hischier and emerge as a bluff candidate for Calder Trophy. – Pete Jensen

Expected line

Ondrij Balat – Nico HescherJesper Pratt

Igor Sharangowicz – Jack Hughes – Dawson Mercer

Thomas TatarEric Hola – Alexander Holtz

Jasper BuchvistMichael McLeodNathan Bastian

Jonas SignthalerDoji Hamilton

Ryan GravesDamon Severson

Brendan Smith – John Marino

Mackenzie Blackwood

Vitik Vanishek

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