What’s The Ceiling For New Jersey Devils Next Season?

Ondrej Palat #18 of the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Ondrej Palat #18 of the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Fans of the New Jersey Devils have been taken on an emotional rollercoaster the last couple of days. Obviously, there was a lot of anticipation in regards to Johnny Gaudreau’s free agency. Unfortunately, he decided to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Which makes it hurt a little bit more for the Devils, who were also in the running for both Alex DeBrincat & Kevin Fiala. However, despite the disappointing results the last couple of days, the Devils still have a lot to look forward to. Because they can only trend in the upwards direction.

Before the whole Gaudreau debacle, the Devils were able to obtain some veteran presence in order to help guide the young players. They traded for Erik Haula (sending Pavel Zacha to the Boston Bruins) and also signed defenseman Brenden Smith.

Haula could provide some offensive production for the bottom six. Whereas Smith can replace P.K. Subban’s leadership and production on the bottom four defense. After Gaudreau made his now infamous decision to move to Columbus, Ohio, the Devils went with “plan B”. They elected to sign Ondrej Palat to a pretty hefty contract. He can also be beneficial in the long run, considering the fact that he does a little bit of everything and won two Stanley Cups with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Barring anything catastrophic happening, I fully anticipate the Devils to re-sign Jesper Bratt. Which means that their “baby big three” will remain intact. We expect big things from Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, and also Bratt. I want to see Hughes become the first Devils player in franchise history to reach 100 points. For that to happen, he has to stay healthy.

As for Hischier, he’s a great two-way player, and can definitely place his name into the running for the Frank J. Selke Award. As for Bratt, I believe he’s only scratching the surface of his true potential. I’m sure there’s going to be some friendly competition between him and Hughes to see who can muster up the most points. In addition to their baby big three, the Devils also have a lot of prospects to look forward to developing.

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While the Devils didn’t exactly get who they had in mind, they still have a lot of potentials to take a few steps forward. If Bratt, Hischier, and Hughes are able to pick up right where they left off last season, then they could put a lot of teams on notice. Hopefully, Mackenzie Blackwood and Vitek Vanecek are able to make a decent amount of stops in front of the net. Not to mention Dougie Hamilton could also make a big-time comeback as well. So, if the newly added veteran players are able to guide and keep the young players’ heads on a swivel then maybe the Devils can be a dark horse team next season. Maybe they sneak their way into the playoffs and become a wild card team. Albeit, a lot of players are also gonna have to remain healthy.