Overall, the New Jersey Devils had a very successful 2017/18 campaign. Many expected them to finish near the bottom of the east, but to the surprise of many the Devils got off to a hot start, stayed in the playoff race and secured a wildcard spot by the end of the season.
Despite, losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round, it marked the franchise first playoff appearance in five years, which was a huge step forward, considering that the team finished last in the Eastern Conference in 2017.
On top of that, Taylor Hall had a major break out season, he set new career-highs across the board and took home the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player.
All in all, there is a lot to like about the New Jersey Devils heading in 2018/19. But at the same time expectations will be a lot higher this year, as fans expect them to build upon the playoff appearance they had last season.
Taylor Hall - Nico Hischier - Kyle Palmieri
Marcus Johansson - Pavel Zacha - Jesper Bratt
Blake Coleman - Travis Zajac - Stefan Noesen
Miles Wood - Brian Boyle- Joseph Anderson
Andy Greene - Sami Vatanen
Will Butcher - Damon Svenson
Mirco Müller - Steven Santini
Best case scenario:
- Taylor Hall has another spectacular year and is a top-ten scorer in the NHL.
- Young players like Nico Hischier, Pavel Zacha, Jesper Bratt, and Will Butcher continue to improve and set new career-highs.
- The Devils are a top-three team in the Metropolitan Division.
- New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero works his magic and acquires another high impact player to improve the team.
- Cory Schneider stands on his head between the pipes and gives the Devils solid goaltending the entire year.
Worst case scenario:
- Taylor Hall has an off year and scores less than 60 points.
- Nico Hischier, Pavel Zacha, Jesper Bratt, and Will Butcher don’t improve from the prior season.
- The Devils fail to keep pace with the rest of the teams in the Metro.
- The Devils have trouble adding secondary scoring to improve their team.
- Cory Schneider suffers a major injury and Keith Kinkaid is unable to give the Devils steady goaltending.
Despite playing in one of the toughest divisions in the NHL, the Devils has shown that they can be a playoff team in the East.
Heading into next season not many teams will take them lightly anymore, so they will have to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke.
Unfortunately, they were unable to bring in any high impact players through free agency and it seems like they are relying on internal growth this season.
From afar it seemed like the team relied on Taylor Hall more than they wanted to last season, as he had 41 more points than the team’s second highest scorer (Nico Hischier).
On paper, it looks like the Devil's should finish better than the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes and the New York Rangers but they might not have enough firepower or depth to be a top-three team in the Metropolitan.
As a result, another wild-card finish should be a reasonable expectation for this team in 2019.
How do you think the New Jersey Devils will do in 2018/19 season? Let us know in the comment section below, and make sure to give us a follow on Twitter (@VAVELNHL_ENG) for more updates!