New Jersey Devils Need An Enforcer On This Roster

Miles Wood #44 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images)
Miles Wood #44 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images) /
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The New Jersey Devils are one of the hottest teams in the NHL. They recently tied their franchise record for the longest consecutive winning streak. Before the most recent game, the Devils won 13 games in a row. While the Devils have a lot of talent, there’s still one area that needs improvement: toughness. Today’s NHL has changed a lot in recent years. So, the term “enforcer” is a little different in the modern game. However, it still doesn’t change the fact that the Devils need a player willing to stick up for his teammates and get into fights.

In one of the Devils’ more recent games against the Ottawa Senators, Nico Hischier was the victim of a cheap crosscheck by Austin Watson. It was completely uncalled for because it took place on open ice. Hischier was blindsided and wasn’t even involved in the play. This resulted in Hischier skating over to the bench and favoring his ribs, hip, and lower back area. Miraculously, Hischier avoided serious injury and suited up for the next game. However, nobody on the Devils’ roster avenged him.

It was rumored that Brendan Smith was trying to fight Watson, but it never came to fruition. The Devils are known for having big defensemen, yet none have shown any interest in fighting. As the Devils get stronger, their opponents will target their top players. That could be dangerous given Jack Hughes and Hischier’s past injury history. The Devils need a player that’s not going to take any prisoners and assert themselves.  I have had the pleasure of interviewing two former Devils enforcers: Cam Janssen and Kurtis Gabriel. Both players might not have been the most talented hockey players, but they knew how to stick up for their teammates and earn their place in the league.

A lot of people are critical of Mason Geersten. However, his aggressive nature could’ve been used a few games ago. Because last season, during the second game of the year, Hughes was sidelined for a few months due to a shoulder injury he suffered after taking a nasty hit from Jeremy Lauzon when the Devils were playing the Seattle Kraken. Geersten was able to avenge Hughes, and that’s what earned him the respect of his teammates and head coach Lindy Ruff. Because his name was in the lineup card quite frequently after that. Nikita Okhotyuk could’ve done the same thing. Because during the course of training camp, he showed glimpses of being an aggressive player.

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I discussed the matter on a recent episode of Locked On Devils

Many people might label Miles Wood as an enforcer for the Devils. However, while Wood isn’t afraid to ruffle the feathers of his opponents, he is more of a “pest” and less of an enforcer. As the Devils continue to improve, more opposing players will play dirty. So, finding some protection wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world.