New Jersey Devils: Looking At Opening Night Roster

New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86): (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)
New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86): (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports) /
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(Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)
(Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports) /

The New Jersey Devils season is finally about to begin after the longest offseason in history not brought on by a lockout. A lot of young players are continuing to compete for spots, so lets take a look at what the team looks like game one and moving forward.

Sharangovich – Hughes – Palmieri
Johnsson – Zacha – Gusev
Wood – Zajac – Boqvist
Kuokkanen – McLeod – Bastian

With Nico Hischier out and Jesper Bratt still on his way to North America, things are a little bit all over the place in the Devils lineup. A lot can still be read the lines as they have been consistent for the last few days.


Line One

Jack Hughes and Yegor Sharangovich have been given a massive shot to prove what they can do alongside the Devils best sniper Kyle Palmieri. This line will have to be sheltered a little bit, but Jack has exactly what he needs to succeed and will be able to showcase his passing talent more than last season, where he was dishing to guys like Wayne Simmonds.

Threats on both sides of the ice will mean that opposing defenders can not cheat and lean one way or this line could make the opposition pay. As for Sharangovich, he has been on fire this year with 17 goals in 35 games already in the KHL before coming over. He needs to show this was not a flash in the pan and will continue in the NHL. While obviously, we don’t expect a goal every second game, if he wants to remain in the lineup the Devils need a 20 goal in a regular season pace while not being a defensive liability.

Line Two

This is one of the more interesting combinations as a line that was expected to stick together was Bratt-Zacha-Gusev. While that is still a possibility tossing Andreas Johnsson on this line for only a few games versus trying to build chemistry right away would be an odd choice. Perhaps it is being looked at more long term.

With Hischier and Bratt being out, things are up in the air. The Devils could realistically run three or even four solid lines, though none would stand out. Johnsson will have a big job on this line of keeping up the pace and it will be interesting to see which Zacha shows up, the one who coasts around or the 40-point guy who is good on the entire ice surface. If he can play a more gritty game, this would be a very solid middle-six line and one with the age of everyone that could hold a spot for five seasons.

Line Three

Travis Zajac and Miles Wood were expected to play in this role, sp putting them together is not a surprise. For young Jesper Boqvist, he really needs to do something to stand out at this point. While he is certainly not old, he is likely viewed behind soon to be Devils such as Alexander Holtz and possibly even Dawson Mercer.

Sharangovich taking a bigger role is a little telling to how they feel about him. If he does fit in, this line could be given more responsibilities in the defensive end. If this is a disaster or not relies on the young Swede as Wood is not reliable and Zajac can not do it all, especially at his age.

Line Four

The line where everyone has a lot to prove. Kuokkanen has showed a ton in the AHL and after being acquired has looked like he is on the cusp of being an NHL player so for him outcompeting people at the start will go a long ways. With two forwards coming back soon this line will likely have most of it in the AHL soon so they all need to compete every game, every shift and every second or they will be out in a heartbeat. Nathan Bastian is a player who was very effective a few seasons ago with the big squad but has had a disappointing time in the minors. As for Mcleod he has been given plenty of chances all over the franchise and not shown anything worthy of a first round pick. He can skate when he chooses to but has no shot whatsoever coupled with very mediocre two way play and an effort level that leaves you wanting more. Both of the former Mississauga Steelheads are likely on there last chance with the franchise so expect them to come out with a bang this season or not to see them again outside of the trade market.