New Jersey Devils Need To Keep Their Top Players Separate

Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils celebrates with teammate Jesper Bratt #63 after his overtime goal against the Edmonton Oilers at Prudential Center on December 31, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils celebrates with teammate Jesper Bratt #63 after his overtime goal against the Edmonton Oilers at Prudential Center on December 31, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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The big news going around the New Jersey Devils organization recently is the return of Dougie Hamilton and Jesper Bratt. Obviously, the Devils are in a better position to win more games with those two players in the lineup. However, if the Devils know what’s best for them, they need to keep their top players separate in terms of line combinations.

The Devils don’t have much depth, in terms of consistent production. So, pairing the best players on the same line does nothing for them in the long run.

As Bratt returned from his injury, Lindy Ruff placed him on a different line than Jack Hughes. Hughes remained on the top line with Yegor Sharangovich and Dawson Mercer. Whereas, Bratt was moved down to the second line with Nico Hischier and Pavel Zacha.

Originally, Bratt and Hughes were on the same line, however, it did cause some conflict. While those two players were able to have career years, it gave the Devils little help once their shifts ended. Hischier had to rely mostly on Tomas Tatar and Zacha to try and generate some offense on his line. But that strategy proved to be wildly inconsistent. The same could be said for the Devils’ defensive pairing.

Hamilton and Ryan Graves have been the Devils’ best offensive weapons on the defensive side of things all season. But after them, it’s hard to find consistent production on both ends. While Jonas Siegenthaler has been consistent all season, he doesn’t generate any offense. Then there’s Damon Severson who tends to make a few “boneheaded” mistakes. He has been more offense than defense lately. Pairing Siegenthaler with Hamilton and Severson with Graves kind of balances that dynamic out a little more.

That theory was put to the test during the Devils’ recent game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. There were able to obliterate them 6-1, and both of the Devils’ top lines performed well. Despite Bratt and Hughes being separated, neither player skipped a beat in terms of production. Hischier, Zacha, and Bratt seem to have rekindled their chemistry from last year. While Hughes was able to rack up three assists and help Mercer and Sharangovich score. If the Devils want to see more wins, then these line combinations are the right moves going forward.