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 Pavel Zacha (37): (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) /

Pavel Zacha

Pavel Zacha is still the most controversial player on the roster. People will look at his counting stats and say he’s the best player on the team this season. Others will look at his advanced stats and say this is all fool’s gold. He’s probably somewhere in between. He did lead the team in scoring this season. His 35 points in 50 games would be roughly 58 points over an 82-game season. Zacha could be on the way to a good career since he’s still only 24 years old.

Grade: B

Janne Kuokkanen

The Devils traded Sami Vatanen for Janne Kuokkanen and what ended up being a 3rd-round pick. It was a great trade at the time, and it looks even better this year. Kuokkanen scored 25 points in 50 games, and he’s been a legitimate winger next to Hughes and Sharangovich. The Youths Line has been driving play in most games, and they usually draw the hardest matchups. Kuokkanen hasn’t had the seasons Hughes and Sharangovich have had, but he definitely has exceeded expectations.

Grade: B

Andreas Johnsson

In the offseason, Devils fans were hoping newly minted general manager Tom Fitzgerald would be able to win more trades like he did at last year’s trade deadline. It seemed like it was coming to fruition when he added Andreas Johnsson for Joey Anderson. The Maple Leafs asked for one prospect in return for an NHL player in Johnsson. It never worked, and Johnsson has been the biggest disappointment on the Devils. He had five goals and six assists this season. The Devils will beg the Kraken to take him.

Grade: D

Jesper Bratt

Jesper Bratt had the looks of a really good player this season, but he didn’t get the stats of one. That’s because his instincts are still a little off. There were times he clearly needed to shoot and tried to make one perfect pass. That led to 30 points in 46 games. It probably had a lot to do with his contract dispute at the beginning of the season. He missed training camp and didn’t learn the Lindy Ruff system until the regular season already started. Bratt didn’t have a bad season, and he has the makings of a really good player, but he didn’t take the step up Devils fans would have wanted.

Grade: B-

Nathan Bastian

Nathan Bastian had a fine season. He provided something good on the offensive end and he provided a certain snarl on the defensive end. His size makes a difference, and he has undeniable chemistry with McLeod. His 10 points left a ton to be desired, and he still needs more to take another step in the right direction

Grade: C+