New Jersey Devils Quarter Season Grades: A Lot More A’s Than Years Past

New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff watches the action against the Detroit Red Wings during the third period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff watches the action against the Detroit Red Wings during the third period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New Jersey Devils are sitting 17-4-0 and though after a wild week including their first loss in a month in very controversial fashion. The team is riding high, sitting atop the division for the first time in what feels like a lifetime. With the season finally hitting the point when you start to see what teams and players have, it is time to look at this roster and what they have brought so far. Like always, ratings are based on expectations and position in the lineup.

New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils left wing Jesper Bratt (63): Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

Jesper Bratt
Gp: 21 G:8 A:17 Pts:25

Since last season, Jesper Bratt has been on a one-way road to stardom. He has been not just one of the best Devils but one of the best players in the entire league. His two-way play is supremely underrated and now that he can put up points like this the team is probably kicking themselves that they didn’t get him on a deal matching Nico’s last year.

Rating: A+

Jack Hughes
Gp:21 G:8 A:14 Pts:22

Jack Hughes has been pretty good so far, but after watching last season, we know he has more to offer offensively. This isn’t a shot at him but more a warning to the rest of the league when a point-a-game player still has another gear. He has also managed to play better defense this season. With the small improvement in that area and the fact that he can keep the puck in the offensive zone most of the time, we’re starting to see a complete game from Hughes.

Rating: A

Erik Haula
Gp:21 G:1 A:7 Pts:8

Erik Haula has had high-danger chances and has failed to bury them, but his play has been pretty consistent overall. He can keep up with faster guys, plays well defensively, and his effort is never in question. He might be playing a little up the lineup, but he does improve this roster.

Rating: B-

Nico Hischier
Gp:20 G:9 A:14 Pts:23

Nico Hischier had a few bad games to start the season, but once he got his game legs back, he has been on an absolute tear. His defensive game has always been there, but this season, he has shown a shot that has become downright dangerous. He takes the hardest matchups and his line has been the best at expected goals at 5v5 in the entire NHL for a good part of the season. This has also been done with Tomas Tatar, who looked like an aged vet at times last season, and youngster Fabian Zetterlund. It’s not like he is with a pair of superstars.

Rating: A+

Tomas Tatar
Gp:21 G:5 A:8 Pts:13

Tatar had a bad first season in New Jersey and didn’t live up to expectations. He was fighting for a roster spot in training camp with Andreas Johnsson, who found his way down to the AHL. While Tatar was not quite that bad, he looked ready for a third-line role at best, then was probably going to be shipped out at the trade deadline. As of right now though, he is finding success on the top line and looks good on both ends of the rink.

Rating: A

Fabian Zetterlund
Gp:16 G:3 A:7 Pts:10

Zetterlund had a strong end to last season. However, with the new depth on this team, it looked like he could be pushed down to the bottom of the lineup or even end up in the AHL to start the season. He found himself on what could be called the top line a lot of nights with Hischier and Tatar. He found chemistry with his linemates, and there is no arguing the results. The coaches clearly trust him, and he is even getting some powerplay time now his future looks very bright.

Rating: A