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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New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils defenseman P. K. Subban (76): (Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports) /






Pairing One

P.K. Subban is being given a big chance again right off the bat with newcomer Ryan Murray. They will be seeing tough competition and big minutes on a nightly basis. Subban has to bounce back this season after a horrid year where he played like a bottom pairing defender. This is his last shot before being exposed in the expansion draft and maybe even being bought out or benched.

Pairing Two

This pairing has some good potential with Dmitry Kulikov able to sit back in a more defensive role that allows Damon Severson to join the rush and be a little more offensively effective. While it doesn’t stand out, they have a shot at being quietly effective with the right chemistry as a stop gap for a season or two till the younger players move up.

Pairing Three

This one is a little shocking with Ty Smith finally making the roster alongside Matt Tennyson who beat him out in a huge shock last season. Smith has been the Devils best defensive prospect for quite some time now and the back to back WHL Defensive Player of the Year is ready to make the leap to the big squad and show why he is held in such a high regard. As for Tennyson, this is likely a placeholder spot for Sami Vatanen, but making this defense again and very likely to see at least some game time shows how hard that he has worked again.

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Pairing Four

Will Butcher continue to slide after his massive rookie season to a bottom pairing defender and from the looks of things not even a full timer on this roster beside Connor Carrick. While I would prefer to see him in the lineup over Tennyson having two offensive players next to one another would be a matchup disaster in the defensive end and the coaching staffs view on this is understandable. When he sees game time Butcher will have to show he worked on his skating and can move the puck or he will be passed over completely by Smith and seen as expendable with Bahl, Mukhammadulin and Walsh ready for possibly next season. As for Carrick he is what he has always been, a good number seven and his play style suits well in that spot. He is more reliable so he may even be moved up before Butcher if injuries happen and the coaching staff takes a liking to having a defensive guy next to Smith.