New Jersey Devils: Final Forward Grades For 2021 Season

New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier (13): (Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports)
New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier (13): (Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports) /
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New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86): (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) /

This season was obviously terrible for the New Jersey Devils. Just about everything went wrong, there is likely more doubt about the future than optimism, the team went through an outbreak of sickness that knocked them off a positive trajectory, their most important players were either hurt, unlucky, or ineffective, and the team was forced to trade or give away any veteran than wasn’t bolted down to the floor.

This isn’t going to be the best season for grading, but there were a lot of positives that came out of the season. Despite its ups and downs, there is at least something to take out of this season. This could bear out in the grades. Some players deserve good grades based on the expectations, and there are absolutely players who deserve bad grades.

There will be players who deserve bad grades who are currently on other teams. Nikita Gusev would get an F, for sure. No offense to him, but the Devils felt like it would be better to cut bait from him entirely than to keep him on the roster. Kyle Palmieri wouldn’t have done too much better. He wasn’t as bad as Gusev, but he fell way below expectations. Dmitry Kulikov is the only “former Devil” that would actually do well in the grading.

For now, let’s focus on who is still in New Jersey. Who deserved an A, who deserved a B, and who failed for this season? We will grade every player who’s played at least ten games this season. All advanced stars come from Natural Stat Trick.

Jack Hughes

Jack Hughes came into this season with a lot of questions. He was not a good player last season. Hughes had 21 points in 61 games. He only scored a goal seven times. It was a massive disappointment. This season was anything but. Hughes was the best player on the Devils. Other Devils had better stats, and other Devils had more goals, but nobody impacted the game as Jack Hughes did. Just look at the comparison between his 5v5 numbers from his rookie to sophomore years. His CF% went from 45.78% to 55.09%. His xG% went from 47.27% to 55.58%. In 2019-20, Hughes was on the ice for nine high-danger goals and watched as the other team scored 21 high-danger goals against him. This season, he saw an equal 14 and 14 in high-danger goals. He was very good this season, and he’s going to be great moving forward.

Grade: B+