How New Jersey Devils Punch A Ticket Back Into Stanley Cup Playoffs

(Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Impressive would be an understatement to describe the type of offseason the New Jersey Devils have had. Winning the lottery and acquiring Jack Hughes, landing P.K. Subban and Nikita Gusev in trades, and signing veteran Wayne Simmonds, along with multiple young prospects pushing their way into the opening day lineups. With these acquisitions, many have cited the Devils as a potential playoff team. I think many of us can agree, but just to make sure of it, let’s take a look at what exactly needs to happen in order for the Devils to get back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

A Healthy Taylor Hall

Can one player really make that much of a difference? Yes. Take a look at the 2017-2018 season. Hall finished that season with a career high 93 points, which was 41 more than Nico Hischier who finished second on the team.  Take him out of the lineup and the New Jersey Devils go from a playoff team to a lottery team very quickly. This is what earned Hall his first Hart Memorial Trophy.

That same season the Devils were a top ten team in PP% with Hall leading the charge with 37 PP points (5th in the league). Last season, the Devils very quickly went from having a top ten PP to bottom ten in the league. Still, in only 33 games played Hall was responsible for over 25% of the point production on the PP. A healthy Taylor Hall is a BIG DEAL.

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Consistent Goaltending

What type of Cory Schneider are the Devils going to get in the 2019-20 season? The 2015-16 Cory Schneider that posted a .924 SV% along with a 2.15 GAA? Hopefully, but still remains the biggest question mark for the Devils heading into the season. Since the 2015 season, Schneid’s averaged a .906 SV% and a 2.94 GGA and played in just 26 games last season.

Shaky goaltending has plagued the Devils and now that he is presumably healthy again along with the addition of a top two defensivemen in P.K. Subban, hopefully he can find a way to get back to his old self.

Mackenzie Blackwood on the other hand looked good in his rookie season. He had 10 wins in the 21 games he started in with a respectable .918 SV%. Coming off of another impressive camp and preseason, expect him to be right behind Schneider pushing for that starting job. Hopefully, the competitiveness between the two can elevate their level of play.

NJ was a bottom five team in win percentage after the team scored first. Good teams historically win a majority games when they score first and the Devils won just over 50% of games in which they were the first on the board. Consistent goaltending can go along way in changing that stat and making this team playoff bound.

Production From Newcomers 

Last season, the New Jersey Devils were one of the worst scoring teams in the league, tied for 25th with the Vancouver Canucks to be exact. In response, General Manager Ray Shero brought in first-overall pick Jack Hughes, former KHL MVP Nikita Gusev, and veteran grinder Wayne Simmonds.

To say expectations are high after these new additions would be an understatement. Hughes and Gusev will more than likely be given a lot of ice time. It is crucial for the Devils success that these players produce in order for them to make a run.

Next. Devils Ideal Lineup. dark

We have a general idea of what we’re getting out of Jack Hughes, as preseason has showcased that he is as advertised. On the other hand, we are not entirely sure about what we’ll get out of Nikita Gusev and Wayne Simmonds. Gusev has never played in the NHL before and a lot of players seem to struggle with the transition between the European style of play to the North American game. If he performs anywhere close to how he did last season with SKA St. Petersburg or with Russia during International play, he’ll be a terrific top six forward and a frequent name on the stat sheet.

Finally, Wayne Simmonds. Devils fans can certainly be excited that #17 is no longer suiting up in black and orange, but still he is coming off of a down year production wise. He had 27 points with the Philadelphia through 62 games before being dealt to Nashville at the deadline where he was anything but productive. He has already faced questions about how much he has left in the tank and has been adamant about helping bring the Devils to the next level. There is nothing more dangerous than a wily veteran with something to prove.