New Jersey Devils Full Season Preview

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 24: The New Jersey Devils salute the fans after defeating the Vancouver Canucks at Prudential Center on November 24, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Canucks 3-2. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 24: The New Jersey Devils salute the fans after defeating the Vancouver Canucks at Prudential Center on November 24, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Canucks 3-2. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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After 181 days of life without the greatest sport in the world, hockey is back! The NHL gets underway tonight. The New Jersey Devils begin regular season play on Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers in Sweden. These are my realistic predictions and a preview going into the season.

First we begin with the forwards. When healthy I believe that the Devils have a decent group here, and can take another step forward. The line combinations this season might be a little different to begin the season than last year. It could go like this:

Taylor HallNico HischierKyle Palmieri
Marcus JohanssonPavel ZachaJesper Bratt
Miles WoodTravis ZajacJohn Quenneville
Blake ColemanBrian Boyle-Stefan Noeson

This to me seems like the best way to maximize this group. There are always injuries and trades, so this could look different by the end of the season. The top three scorers will all be forwards, I would think. My prediction for the top three scorers goes Taylor Hall (36-55-91), Nico Hischier (24-36-60) and Kyle Palmieri (31-25-56). If that were to come true, most Devils fans should be happy with it.

Next comes a prediction about the defense. The pairings to start will probably be:

Mirco MuellerSami Vatanen
Andy GreeneDamon Severson
Will ButcherBen Lovejoy

The Devils have eight defenseman on the roster, so one would expect Steve Santini and Eric Gryba to see some time this year as well. I think this defense has a chance to be better than people give them credit for. Vatanen was very good once he got acclimated to the team after being traded for Adam Henrique last season. A fresh season with the new squad could do wonders for him. Will Butcher should lead the team defense in scoring. A solid prediction would be 8 goals and 35 assists for 43 points.

The goalie situation is where the most questions lie. Cory Schneider will begin the season on the shelf. Keith Kinkaid and Eddie Lack will be relied upon to hold the fort down. I believe once Schneider comes back, he will once again be one of the best goalies in the NHL if he is truly healthy, and the Devils will have a good team save percentage.

One other random prediction that I have is for former first round pick John Quenneville. I think that on the third line with speedy Miles Wood and a very good defensive center in Travis Zajac, he should have some great offensive production this season. I’m going to say he scores 20 goals this season which would be such a boost for the team’s overall offensive attack.

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So how will the New Jersey Devils stack up in the division and the rest of the Eastern Conference? The Devils might be the most debated team in the conference, because they can either take a step forward or a step back compared to the 97 points and playoff berth that they had last season.

I believe the Devils will come in fourth place in the Metropolitan Division behind the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Philadelphia Flyers. I think that will be good for the first of the two wild card spots in the East. The Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, and Toronto Maple Leafs should be the top three in the Atlantic Division, and I like the Buffalo Sabres to be like last years Devils and be the surprise playoff team to round out the East wild card and playoffs.

The last prediction that I have for the season is that it is going to be very fun to watch all of the youngsters take another step forward, and see how Taylor Hall can follow up his MVP winning season and if the team can get into the postseason once again.