New Jersey Devils Management Has Pittsburgh & Boston Hybrid Blueprint

Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils takes the puck as Marcus Foligno #17 of the Minnesota Wild defends during the first period at Prudential Center on March 21, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils takes the puck as Marcus Foligno #17 of the Minnesota Wild defends during the first period at Prudential Center on March 21, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Despite the recent cold spell, Jack Hughes is still on pace for 43 Goals and 94 points this season. At age 21 that pace for 94 would put Jack Hughes right below Sidney Crosby’s age 21 season, when he had 33 Goals and 103 points. We all hope this is a bit of foreshadowing come playoff time. Crosby scored 15 postseason goals and 31 points in 24 games played. If Jack Hughes can get even half of that in the playoffs, that could help stack a good punch and spread the scoring punch.

In that 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, that was when Ray Shero (now former Devils GM) won the Stanley Cup icing a well-stacked core around Crosby and Malkin. Tom Fitzgerald, the current New Jersey Devils GM, was the Director of Player Development in that 2008-09 campaign while that Penguins team became Stanley Cup Champions. Dan MacKinnon the Assistant GM of the NJ Devils, and GM of the Utica Comets was the Director of Professional Scouting back in Pittsburgh under Ray Shero’s watch. The Devils have always had emulation to that Penguins team. Now, we get to see it in the playoffs.

23-year-old Nico Hischier is on pace for 35 goals and 78 points, which would eclipse Evgeni Malkin’s 2009-10 total of 77. Malkin had five goals and 11 points in 13 playoff games. It could be very doable with this constructed Devils roster. Jack Hughes will break their personal record for playoff points this season (being that he’s never been there), and it’s likely Nico Hischier does the same (he had one goal and zero assists in 2018). They will feel determined to manipulate time, space, puck possession, and keep a level head in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Devils young core and a veteran in Timo Meier are getting gelled into the lineup. It is only a matter of building offensive line chemistry, and the defense can stay in synchronization. With young guys like Nolan Foote around and roster expansion coming soon, even more young players like Brian Halonen and Simon Nemec could join Luke Hughes as roster players.

Having coaches like Ryan McGill, Dave Rogalski, and Andrew Brunette around on Lindy Ruff’s staff brings coaching experience from recent Stanley Cup playoff hunts with Vegas, St. Louis, and Florida. There is a lot of experience on this New Jersey bench. Veteran coaches know what it takes to win and go deep in the playoffs.

One must also ask “how hard can these coaches maximize the most juice out of this 2023 playoff roster?” Assistant coach Sergei Brylin, a three-time Stanley Cup Champ himself, would play a big role in maximizing that untapped potential on and off the ice.

It is not a matter of if this core wins a Stanley Cup, but more so when. This team is gonna be managing the Pittsburgh-Boston hybrid. Pittsburgh won championships thanks to great drafting. It looks like the Devils are on their way with Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, and Michael McLeod as your 1 to 3rd line punch similar to Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jordan Staal in Pittsburgh.

The Boston part of the hybrid would be the way GM Tom Fitzgerald negotiates and inks players like Timo Meier and Jesper Bratt to fair and very reasonable deals. Getting role players like Yegor Sharangovich and a few other pieces to take a bit of a discount to see who is in to win a championship in New Jersey near and longer term. This tactic would help Fitz sign guys like Dawson Mercer, Simon Nemec, Luke Hughes, and Kevin Bahl to team-friendly deals.

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This hybrid could expand a nice near and long-term window plus whoever the Devils draft in the early to late rounds that does pan out throughout that time will become key over the years in helping New Jersey hoist a Cup or few.