John Hynes’ AHL Experience Will Help Improve The Devils


The New Jersey Devils are in the midst of a rebuild, looking to get younger at forward and to develop their young defensemen. In the middle of this rebuild is John Hynes, the new Head Coach of the New Jersey Devils. He faces a difficult task in turning things around in Newark and getting his young players to reach their full potential. Even with this big responsibility on his shoulders I truly believe that GM Ray Shero has brought in the right man for the job.

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While John Hynes’ prior AHL success may not guarantee he will succeed in New Jersey, I do see it as a positive sign for the organization. He will have an incomplete roster to begin his NHL coaching career with, but this isn’t all that different from coaching an AHL team. There will be players he coaches next season who have recently played in the AHL such as

Reid Boucher


Stefan Matteau

who he’s seen play against his old teams. My point being the Devils needed a coach who could specialize in helping younger players and they will get that with John Hynes.

Having coached in the AHL previously, John Hynes knows what to look for in a player who may need more time developing. This will be very useful when evaluating the Devils defense which most assume will be changing given UFA departures and potential trades. Scott Stevens deserves to be an assistant on John Hynes’ coaching staff, but if he isn’t hired I’d say the responsibility for the growth of the team’s young d-men falls solely on Hynes. Players such as Seth Helgeson, Raman Hrabarenka and Reece Scarlett should have a chance to impress John Hynes during next year’s training camp.

The change in team culture is also very important in the hiring of John Hynes. The days of the Devils signing aging veterans or talented but injury prone players are thankfully gone and now both Ray Shero and John Hynes want to get younger. Everyone with the Devils are well aware that this is not an overnight fix and are committed to not taking any shortcuts in this rebuilding period.

Would this mean that John Hynes gives a player like Joe Whitney or Paul Thompson an opportunity next season?  John Hynes answered this question in a recent Q&A with Tom Gulitti.

"“He’s put himself in position to give himself the best opportunity to compete for a spot. When you look at a player and he’s had to come up and he’s had to earn it, he’s put himself in a position where he’s contending for an NHL spot.”"

This gives me reason to believe next year’s training camp will be very competitive in terms of young forwards trying to earn a roster spot. Keep in mind that Boucher and Matteau aren’t guaranteed anything in addition to giving the opportunity for guys like Thompson and Whitney to earn a spot. Hynes knows the team isn’t going to be a contender next season so he may try to give younger guys opportunities to gain NHL experience while it won’t impact the team too much. When asked about what he liked best about taking on the current New Jersey Devils team the following is what John Hynes had to say.

"“I would say the room for growth and improvement. I think when you see the solid goaltending and solid defense, that’s a real good foundation to grow from. Looking at the team, looking at the players and some of the direction, I think you have some very good older guys that have great experience and are high-character players, but I still think there’s a lot of guys that have an upward mobility and as a coach that’s exciting because you can help that and you can see growth as time goes on.”"

It’s obvious this New Jersey Devils team has a lot of room for growth and improvement, but the emphasis on the current roster should be noted. The team does have good veterans whose experience and leadership will be key in this period of rebuilding the roster. John Hynes knows you can’t teach character and knows that even his more inexperienced players have the desire necessary to improve and grow. The Devils may not have all the pieces they need right now, but be confident that John Hynes will start to improve the team this year so they can rebuild as fast as possible.

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