Which player was the biggest disappointment on the New Jersey Devils?
Villano: There are so many to choose from, but I’ll go with Pavel Zacha. We thought he finally figured it out when he led the team in points last season, but it was clear that was a blip on his career radar. Now, it appears he’s likely out the door this offseason.
Rice: Ty Smith had a sophomore slump, a really big, bad one. but hopefully, that’s all it is. Mackenzie Blackwood and Pavel Zacha close second. Hamilton wasn’t the same player after taking the puck in the face, he came back but he never really came back.
Parise: Mackenzie Blackwood for me. He missed some time due to injury but wasn’t amazing when he did play. However, I believe he can turn it around.
Garrison: The player that had the biggest disappointment for me is Ty Smith. After the rookie season he had, I thought he could improve on his flaws, but he’s made many mistakes on defense and hasn’t shown up. I still have faith he will get it right next year.
Borges: Ty Smith. There are sophomore slumps and then there is whatever Ty Smith is having. From Calder Trophy hopeful to “does he know how to skate” is not what you want to see from a recent first-round pick.
DeLuca: I could be a showoff and say I called Janne Kuokkanen from a mile away too. But I won’t. The correct answer here is Ty Smith. He was statistically the worst defenseman in the NHL by a large margin for a long portion of the season. He had been a healthy scratch multiple times this season. It has unfortunately led to major questioning on his future here from many fans.
Holiday: Ty Smith had such a strong first year. It wasn’t just his offensive play. He showed a poise beyond his years which is something not seen in a Devils defender since Severson broke in. Smith’s fall from grace has just been incredible. He should have been a lock to be on the second pairing and at worst been putting up insane numbers sheltered on the bottom pairing against easy competition and quarterbacking the second PP unit.
Goldstein: Pavel Zacha is someone who I expected big things from after his performance in last year’s COVID season. Instead, the 25-year-old barely eclipsed his point total from last year and has not found a line of forwards that he meshes with. This year has proven that New Jersey is better off going with someone else in his place next season whether that’s someone like Alex Holtz or a veteran they add this summer.
Fleming: Dougie Hamilton. I’m not writing him off yet, not even close, but the start to his Devils’ tenure was not what I was hoping for. He looked solid in the first few months, but since returning from the jaw fracture, he’s looked far from a $9 million guy.
Woo: Pavel Zacha. We expected more from him and build on his 2020-21 campaign. He disappeared at times and does not use his big frame to his advantage. I thought we’d see more production and impact from him.