New Jersey Devils: 5 Players Team Can’t Afford To Get Injured

Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Ondrej Palat #18 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images) /

Ondrej Palat

The Devils big free agency signing wasn’t the one we expected. The rumors seemed to point to Johnny Gaudreau joining the Devils. Then, he got a surprise call late in the day from the Columbus Blue Jackets, and he was reportedly “thrilled” that he didn’t have to sign with the Devils. It was a strange reaction, but one we don’t really need to dive into. As soon as Johnny Hockey chose Ohio to be his new home, Ondrej Palat said he was going to join the Devils for the next five years.

Palat is going to be vital to the Devils’ success this season. He’s not as important as Jack Hughes, Dougie Hamilton, or the goalies, but he still has a crucial role. Not only does he play a role on the first line with his offensive ability, but his defense and hockey IQ will give Hughes the ability to play “his game”.

If Palat gets hurt, the Devils have to take a different strategy. If the Devils try to replace Palat with Sharangovich on the top line, it seems like it would work offensively, but it’s the intelligence and experience factor that’s lost.

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Palat played a crucial role in Tampa sticking up for his superstar teammates. His 122 hits would have been third on the Devils behind Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian. Having a first-line player willing to throw his weight around when so many try to do the same against Hughes is huge. Losing that would lose a huge piece of the Devils identity.