1. The Talent Around Nico Hischier
Many are predicting a big Hughes year because of the talent that is now around him. Dougie Hamilton will really help him on the power play. Tomas Tatar gives him a legitimate winger. Yegor Sharangovich is one year old and one year better. Ryan Graves takes on a lot of the defensive responsibilities forwards had to take on the past few years.
However, all these positives could also help Hischier. Going into the season, the expectation is the Devils will keep him on a line with Jesper Bratt and Pavel Zacha, but what if the Devils make Zacha the third-line center? Then wouldn’t it make sense for Tatar to fall on that line and keep Janne Kuokkanen and Sharangovich with Hughes?
Hischier also will likely spend his time on the top power play unit. That means he is going to get the benefit of Hamilton on offense. Even if Lindy Ruff decides Hischier’s best place on the team is on the second power-play unit, that now consists of Ty Smith and Subban on the blue line. Either way, Hischier is getting more points from the power play.
Bratt also can’t have worse finishing stats than he had last season. He had 29 individual high-danger chances but only had three goals at 5v5. So, he scored on just over 10% of his individual high-danger chances. The season before, he scored on 34% of his high-danger chances. It’s very likely he bounces back this season.