Michael McLeod is another New Jersey Devils player who had a good campaign during the COVID year but failed to take that next step in this 82-game season. His faceoff percentage was still great, actually one of the best in the NHL, but a mix of over-utilization and lack of Miles Wood may have been the reason for his struggles. He was also missing Nathan Bastian at the beginning of the season.
If McLeod is returning next season, and his penalty killing alone likely warrants that, give him a taste with Wood again on his line because fans should remember how successful that BMW line was during the 2020 season. They deserve a chance to play together again after Miles Wood missed the entire season with a hip injury.
The theme of this list seems to be highlighting guys who had great 2020 campaigns but poor 2021 seasons. Janne Kuokkanen looked destined to be a top-nine forward in this lineup for a very long time. However, between injuries and poor play, he struggled mightily.
After returning from injury at the start of April, he put up six points in 14 games. Kuokkanen has flashed potential, and what he accomplished with Hughes and Sharangovich shouldn’t be overlooked. He deserves a spot on this team next season.