New Jersey Devils: Lines Starting To Have An NHL Feel

Jack Hughes and Travis Zajac of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Jack Hughes and Travis Zajac of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils are having line rushes that are starting to have more of an NHL feel.

The New Jersey Devils are well into training camp now. A few different practices and scrimmages are starting to show what kind of team they are going to be. We already knew that head coach Lindy Ruff would implement a high-tempo system that should be able to take advantage of a roster like this. It should allow kids like Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes to take the next step offensively which would be huge for the organization long term.

The cool thing is that the practices are starting to give us more of an NHL feel. The line rushes and defense pairs are starting to show what they are planning for their Opening Day roster which is just over a week away from being announced. It is exciting to see what they are doing here but some of the trios and pairs are interesting.

The New Jersey Devils have been waiting for their chance to hit the ice again for six months. Not making it to the bubble by just a couple of points hurt but we are well beyond that now. They are going into the 2021 season with mixed expectations in terms of wins and losses but that isn’t the main goal this season.

With a group like this, the most important thing needs to be the development of their young players. That will happen over time and 2021 will be a big step. Some guys are getting their first taste of the league but others have been there for a few years now. Once this development starts to happen in front of our eyes, they will start to win more games.

As you can see from the lines pictured above, Hughes has assumed the role of the top-line center. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to many people. Kyle Palmieri and Andreas Johnsson are great linemates for him in year two. Hischier is missing with an injury right now but Hughes might be able to be the top-line center even when he is back.

Pavel Zacha and Travis Zajac are skating as the second and third-line centers right now but they will be bumped down to third and fourth-line centers when Hischier comes back. Jesper Bratt is also out as he still needs a contract but you’d have to imagine that he takes Miles Wood’s spot on Zacha’s line with Nikita Gusev. That line was awesome to end the year but we don’t know for sure if it will exist in 2021.

Zajac has been spending a lot of time with Nick Merkley and Janne Kuokkanen. If that sticks as a line it could be a very good fourth line for the team. It could even end up being the third line depending on how things go with Miles Wood, Yegor Sharangovich, Jesper Boqvist, and Michael McLeod. It is good to have options once Bratt and Hischier are back.

The defense is very mediocre but it has the potential to grow as the season goes along. We don’t know where Ty Smith will start the season but it is cool to see him getting his chance with the NHL players. It would be more fun seeing him in the lineup than some of the other options because he has the potential to be a good player in this league. It is also going to be fun seeing players like P.K. Subban, Damon Severson, and Will Butcher play in the Lindy Ruff system.

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Hopefully, Mackenzie Blackwood and Corey Crawford are both good to go for the start of the season. If they are, it should be a season worth watching because of all the talent they are accumulating. Of course, the AHL squad is important too as a good amount of those guys are going to be good Devils one day as well. This is fun and we can’t wait to get the season underway.