New Jersey Devils: 5 Things We Learned About This Roster In 2020-21

Miles Wood #44 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Miles Wood #44 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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New Jersey Devils
Miles Wood #44 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Special Teams Are The Number-One Priority

There are a lot of priorities for the Devils this offseason. They want to weaponize their cap space to add draft pick capital. They need to figure out a strategy to target the Seattle Expansion Draft. There are holes on defense they need to fill. The team really needs some kind of veteran presence on offense. However, there is one priority that is above the rest.

The Devils penalty kill was historically bad. Their 70.9% penalty kill was one of the worst units ever. No, really. Only five teams since the NHL started tracking penalty kill percentage had a worse conversion rate. All of those teams played in the late 70s and early to mid-80s when teams were scoring at will.

The penalty kill must be fixed. Is it the players or the system? That’s what the Devils have to figure out. These players have contributed to good penalty kills in the past. However, losing Andy Greene, Ben Lovejoy, Blake Coleman, and Travis Zajac in recent years definitely isn’t helping. They probably need to focus on finding defensemen who can really kill penalties.

As far as the power play, it wasn’t historically bad, but it wasn’t good by any means. Only three teams had a worse power play percentage than the Devils this season. The team obviously used the slingshot power play philosophy that has driven Devils fans crazy for half a decade now. With players like Jack Hughes who are so good at entering the zone with possession, it seems like it makes sense, but it ends up forcing him to skate through defenders as soon as he enters the zone.

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The Devils are likely keeping Alain Nasreddine and Mark Recchi as assistant coaches, so they are the ones who need to make adjustments. Fitzgerald will also try to upgrade these units with new players. It can only get better from here, but it has to get better if this team is going to get better.