The New Jersey Devils were dreadful this past season, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some positives. Let’s go through some of the players that did much better than expected.
As we look back on last season and hopefully look towards better times, the New Jersey Devils hope they learned enough about the team this season to move forward towards better days. That’s the directive the prerogative, whatever noun you’d like to use to make this work. The Devils need to be playoff contenders next season, no questions asked.
To do that, they have to build around the players who did well this past season. Some of those players were surprises. We’re not talking about Jack Hughes, who was always supposed to be what he showed this season when he wasn’t injured. This isn’t even talking about Jesper Bratt, who had the best season of his career, but his analytics showed this was always possible. We are talking about the players who blew our minds this season. Which ones can the Devils build around for next season?
1. Dawson Mercer
Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? Dawson Mercer came in as a rookie who was going to get a look before going to the AHL. Then, Mercer dominated in the preseason. He had a really good showing next to Alex Holtz and Nolan Foote in the prospect came against the Boston Bruins, and then he built off that momentum.
Mercer had stretches where he was phenomenal and other stretches where he was invisible. That’s expected from the best rookies, so it’s not terribly surprising it happened to Mercer. He still finished the season with 42 points as a 19/20 year old. We haven’t seen the Calder Trophy voting yet, but we expect him to at least get some votes for the award. He was one of the better rookies for part of the season, and his overall numbers were really good.
Mercer was seventh amongst rookies in points, and he was just one point behind Cole Caufield who most believe had a phenomenal season. He had more points than Tanner Jeannot and Seth Jarvis. These are players many might put in a higher tier in terms of players this season. Mercer was just as good as any of them, and his season gives us hope for the future.