Last season, Tom Fitzgerald was talking about “core pieces” for the New Jersey Devils. He mentioned four names specifically. The obvious are Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes. They are going to be core pieces here for a long time. Then, he mentioned Mackenzie Blackwood. That isn’t part of the equation anymore after the season he just had. Ty Smith was a player considered a “core piece”. That is obviously a completely different conversation.
It’s safe to say that Jesper Bratt added his name to core pieces this season. He was incredible this season, scoring close to a point per game. Dougie Hamilton is likely in the same boat after signing a seven-year contract last offseason. He was really good before he got injured last season. There was a clear drop off in his play when he returned from a broken jaw, and we learned right after the season that he was dealing with a broken toe.
There are some players who seem like they are young enough to be a part of the core, but they will play roles that don’t necessarily make them in that same consideration. Think about how Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli play their roles with the Tampa Bay Lightning. This could include players like Nathan Bastian or Jesper Boqvist.
One player who is almost easily steeped into this team’s core is Yegor Sharangovich. After a rough start to last season, he became the one player who is always paired with Hughes. He finished the season with 24 goals, third on the team to Bratt and Hughes.
Should we consider Yegor Sharangovich a part of the New Jersey Devils core?
Sharangovich has been esteemed in the culture of the Devils. People seem to like having him around, and his interviews are usually pure gold. The Devils build a great marketing campaign around his season, and the fanbase is universally in love with this kid. You can’t find a fan who dislikes Sharangovich.
There is a lot of talk about the Devils going big-game hunting this offseason. The names of Matthew Tkachuk, Timo Meier, and William Nylander have been thrown out as trade pieces. When looking at other teams, there are names that constantly come up. The 2nd-overall pick comes up in a lot of fake trades, and most of them are really bad.
However, Sharangovich has come up quite often. Most of those trades are bad too, but it got us thinking about whether Sharangovich is an untouchable piece. Would the Devils laugh at other teams asking about his availability? He is a former fifth-round pick that worked his way into a top-six role on the Devils.
It’s hard to consider him a part of the “core” because the Devils conceivably could replace him in the top six this offseason. Say the Devils sign someone like Johnny Gaudreau or Filip Forsberg (both long shots, but just for the sake of argument), then the Devils will give Alex Holtz every chance to make the team, and he makes sense to get a shot on the top line. Sharangovich’s guaranteed spot in the top six can get lost very quickly.
We love Sharangovich. He shouldn’t be available in trade talks. He is a player this team should grow with, and he proved this season he was more than a one-hit-wonder. He’s a great piece to the Devils puzzle. However, a core piece is something completely different. They are the pillars that hold up this team. Sharangovich is a great piece but calling him a core piece is premature.