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
Nico Hischier #13 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Mikhail Maltsev

Mikhail Maltsev had a really good start to the season, but he’s really fallen off over the past two months. Since April 1st, he has five points. He missed most of May with an injury, so his season ended prematurely. Maltsev was decisively average in most advanced stats. He scored six goals, which was nice, but two of them came with an empty net. It was a fine season, but he needs time to prove he’s a decisive part of the future.

Grade: C

Nicholas Merkley

The Devils were always going to use a lot of young players this season, and Nick Merkley was one of the players that got Devils fans excited. He was supposed to take a regular role on the offense, but until some of the veterans got traded or cut, he never really had a spot. He played six games total through February. Once he finally got into the lineup, he had some pretty insane assist metrics. His season was fine, but he spent most of the time on the taxi squad.

Grade: B

Jesper Boqvist

The Devils hoped Jesper Boqvist would really thrive in Lindy Ruff’s system, but he spent most of this season on the bench, in the press box, on the taxi squad, and even sometimes playing for the Binghamton Devils. After the trade deadline, he was a fixture in the lineup, but that was because of the pure need for NHL bodies. He hasn’t been good, and he’s actually worrisome about how he fits for the next few years. His star is not as bright as it was, and that hurts.

Grade: D

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Nico Hischier

We end this off with Nico Hischier. How do you grade Nico Hischier this year? He broke his leg, tested positive for COVID-19, and tried to stop a deflected slapshot with his face. It was a very, very rough year for the newly-appointed captain. He did get 11 points in 21 games despite dealing with SO MUCH. His grade will always be an incomplete, but for this exercise we’ll give him a letter. He was well above average on the ice, but the Devils needed more.

Grade: C+