On the eve of the New Jersey Devils season, it is okay to be very excited.
It is finally over. The worst offseason in the history of the New Jersey Devils is finally over after north of 300 days. It is one thing for the team to be bad, it is another for them not to be playing at all. They were one of the seven teams not invited back to the return to play bubble because they were so bad in 2019-20. It was a shame to go that long without them, but now they are finally back.
They get things started Thursday night against the reigning President’s Trophy winners in the Boston Bruins. It is a very tough challenge for New Jersey as Boston looks to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup this season. They have a lot of elite players but the Devils will just be happy to be there.
Nico Hischier is going to be out for a little bit thanks to an injury he sustained back in Switzerland. Jesper Bratt and Sami Vatanen are signed but won’t be here in time to start the season. They will be there in due time, but starting the season without them is detrimental to their chances. They need a lot of the younger players to step up in their place and perform well until they get back. It would be cool to see some kids make it hard for the coach to take them out.
Speaking of the coach, this is the even of Lindy Ruff’s tenure with New Jersey. Throughout Training Camp, it has been clear that this system he is implementing is a fast/up-tempo one that should help the skilled players on the team. It will also be interesting to see how the defensemen join in on the rush and use their skating to help the team score more.
The roster is filled with some young players the New Jersey wants to see make an impact. Guys like Nolan Foote, Yegor Sharangovich, Jesper Boqvist, and Ty Smith are all (most likely) going to get a chance to shine. They already sent some talented players to Binghamton who will be there in no time.
We also can’t forget, on the eve of their season, the guys who were there last year that will be fun to watch. With Corey Crawford retiring, watching Mackenzie Blackwood take the next step in the net is a necessary key to the season. It should also be fun to watch guys like Jack Hughes, Nikita Gusev, and Kyle Palmieri lead the team offensively. Defensemen like Damon Severson, Will Butcher, and P.K. Subban have to be remembered as well.
There are also going to be new faces from the outside that should provide a bit of a boost. It is a shame that Crawford won’t be there but he deserves nothing but respect for his decision. Outside of him, Andreas Johnsson and Ryan Murray should be able to really help the forwards and defensemen respectively. This is going to be an interesting season and the hope has to be that all of these guys can take a step forward and change the future outlook of the organization.