After the New Jersey Devils’ elimination in the second round of the 2023 NHL Playoffs, free agency looms large over many players. With just five forwards and five defensemen under contract for the 2023-24 season, the Devils have lots of decisions to make, including on Yegor Sharangovich.
The New Jersey Devils shuffled their lines all season long, and no player was caught in flux more than Yegor Sharangovich. With the additions of players like Ondrej Palat and Erik Haula, and Lindy Ruff’s insistence on playing Jesper Boqvist, Sharangovich’s average ice time dropped an eye-watering 2:05 from 2021-22.
The Belarusian sniper broke onto the scene as a 22-year-old rookie in 2020-21, scoring 16 goals and 30 points in 54 games. Sharangovich built on his success last season after a slow start, finishing the year with 24 goals and 46 points in 76 games whilst primarily serving as Jack Hughes‘ left wing. Hopers were higher this season for Sharangovich, but the rewards were anything but. Reduced to a bottom-six role and being a staple of the team’s penalty kill unit, Sharangovich rarely found himself on the ice in offensively opportunistic moments. Alongside Hughes, Sharangovich played just 276:10 this season, which is significantly less than the number of minutes the duo played together in each of the last two seasons. As a result, Sharangovich’s offensive production and confidence suffered.
Still, 2022-23 wasn’t a complete failure for Sharangovich, despite only serving as fresh legs in the playoff run. He finished with 13 goals and 30 points, generally acceptable totals for a player playing as little as he did. Of course, these numbers don’t compare to his previous body of work. The scoring upside is still there, so if the Devils don’t keep the pending RFA around, suitors should be lining up around the block to make a trade offer for his services.
There’s little to no harm in reuniting the 6’2″ winger with Jack Hughes – we’ve seen what a developed, mature, healthy Hughes can do over a full season. There’s a lot of harm in not getting the most out of your young, versatile players that are cost-controlled. It would be an incredible shame if Lindy Ruff and the Devils can’t work something out with Sharangovich and get him firing again.