New Jersey Devils Coaching Staff Gives Team Foundation For Big Trade

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 /

The New Jersey Devils are proving they can be strong in the forechecking game this season. During the 13-game winning streak back in November, Lindy Ruff’s coaching staff was able to implement different strategies from his coaching staff. Sergei Brylin helps out with the penalty kill, Ryan McGill has taken over the defense, and Andrew Brunette is adding his expertise on the offensive side and the power play units.

Dave Rogalski has been very consistent as the goalie coach in working with Vitek Vanecek as the starter and working with Nico Daws, Mackenzie Blackwood, and Akira Schmid’s growth in the Devils pipeline. There has been a lot of resiliency in this Devils team where opponents thought they were both down and out, but later on, come back and strike late to win in incredible fashion.

The physical side of the Devils’ game is there with the likes of Miles Wood, Nathan Bastian, and Ryan Graves, to name a few, but the New Jersey Devils have to add a physical presence on the backend. Niko Mikkola would not cost the Devils a lot but would add a nice veteran presence on the backend. Mikkola would be up for a contract extension as an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He could be a good player to bring back at around $2 million.

The Devils proved to get through the thick and thin of the injuries of Nathan Bastian, Ondrej Palat, and John Marino. The Devils did have a phenomenal November coming off that big heater. However, the 26 points they added during that heater gave them a cushion to survive a dreadful December. They are still second in the Metropolitan Division going into the All-Star Break. If there was a time the Devils were in trouble losing their cushion at the top of the Metro was the OT winner versus the Rangers at The Rock.

The depth of the organization is a testament to Tom Fitzgerald and Dan MacKinnon’s amateur scouting prowess and ability to trust Head Director of Amateur Scouting Paul Castron. Having guys like defenseman Simon Nemec cooking up in the AHL and Luke Hughes at the University of Michigan waiting to jump in at season end gives the Devils the luxury of holding court with the current roster.

Shakir Mukhamadullin will be coming over from the KHL at the end of the Salavat Yulaev’s schedule with the Gagarin Cup playoffs in the cards. Topias Vilen coming en route from Liiga in Finland has shown to be a gem from the 2021 NHL Draft. Prospects such as Mukhamadullin, Luke Hughes, Nemec, and Vilen are important defensive pieces to keep flowing in the pipeline for the Devils. Kevin Bahl and Nikita Okhotiuk are both young defensemen as well. It’s gonna be a tough call to see what their futures will be as they grow over time and evolve as players at age 22.

Reilly Walsh and Alexander Holtz are likely pieces that will be dangled in trades for the likes of Timo Meier or another offensive superstar. One of the Devils biggest weaknesses is the top-six depth on the wing.

The trick is Timo Meier is in the prime of his career and has the Swiss connection with Jonas Siegenthaler and Nico Hischier. The Devils could make it work offering him $10 million per year on a five-year deal.

Next. New Jersey Devils Trade Deadline Possibilities. dark

Tom Fitzgerald and company need to cash in and get Jack Hughes that extra firepower and grit on his flank, while Jesper Bratt is Nico Hischier’s go-to guy. This kind of move will make opponents facing New Jersey rethink how they play the speed and physical game if this move goes down before the deadline on March 3rd.