The New Jersey Devils’ season is over and has been since virtually November, but with ten games left there are some things the team can learn. So, what are they?
1. It’s time to tank
Yes, the dreaded word of sports. Tanking. The team is currently sitting 4th from the bottom and has 4 points on the Seattle Kraken, 5 on the Montreal Canadiens, and 7 on the Arizona Coyotes. It would be hard to get passed by any of these teams but it is possible for this team. While cheering against your own team is not a good thing, this team plays against Arizona and Seattle this week and if both games are dropped it will 100% be better in the long run.
Even going .500 the rest of the year could move the team up in the NHL Draft, being within 3 points of three other teams. The difference of a spot or two could be massive and this draft is deep upfront and getting another top-six forward is an absolute must.
2. Run with Hammond and Gilles.
Andrew Hammond has been awful the Devils traded for him, but you know what? That is what this team needs. Hammond is the seventh goalie the Devils played this season and 0 being the answer they should run with the worst two to go for the best pick possible. Nico Daws and Akira Schmid both have potential, but they need to be playing for the Utica Comets who are trying to win the Calder Cup. This is how you properly develop a player and letting Daws get shelled up here for even one more game is just not acceptable.
3. Play more Zacha
With his play this year, it is safe to say that most fans are 100% done with Pavel Zacha as a player. He is soft for his size, never hitting anyone, and won’t even shove a guy during a puck battle. He can’t take passes, can’t make passes, and the only reason he scores goals is that the team has been feeding him the puck constantly for years thanks to the pass-first mentality of most of the roster. With Jack Hughes out, he is probably going to see a lot more ice time and be back on the top line again so each point should be increasing his value.
His value is a huge question mark, but this offseason the Devils need to move him because he is not the answer with Hischier and Bratt, and the third line can’t be so passive, soft, and defensively inept. Next season. Holtz should be up and in the top 6 and if Hughes’ line stays how it was, which it should, the third line as of this second would probably be Zacha with Tomas Tatar and Andreas Johnsson.
Please don’t start the season like that.