New Jersey Devils Should Replace Andrew Brunette From Within

New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images)
New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images) /

Now-former New Jersey Devils Associate Coach Andrew Brunette was hired to lead the Nashville Predators squad. This, after new GM Barry Trotz fired former Devils head coach John Hynes. The Devils have two names internally that could immediately replace Brunette.

Patrik Elias

The New Jersey Devils legendary winger has been growing his grip on the National Level as an assistant coach with the Czechia national teams from 2018 to 2020. After a very long tenure in the NHL, current players will be more likely to relate to his approach to offensive schemes. Players like Timo Meier don’t need to completely change their approach in order to be successful under him but know there will be a slightly different approach. Patrik Elias had speed and finesse in his game and was also a strong power-play presence.

It is very likely Tom Fitzgerald tries to convince Elias to become a coach in New Jersey. However, on the flip side, he is a father and a husband, so this conversation is deeper than just hockey. If Elias is not the successor to Brunette in New Jersey, then another Stanley Cup Champion is likely from within.

Sergei Brylin

Sergei finished his first season on the Devils coaching staff and played a key role in improving the penalty kill and the miscellaneous parts of the Devils skaters. Brylin was the eye in the sky and spent time at practices working with players in a more one on one style. Brylin knows a majority of the younger players on the New Jersey Devils roster from his time as an assistant coach in Utica/Binghamton in the AHL.

Brylin is more of an old-school product. The kind of work ethic Sarge will bring is a no-silliness drill sergeant attitude and high amounts of discipline to improve concentration on offense. Brylin as a player has been keen on creating offense. This play style could lead to a Stanley Cup eventually.

Philosophy & Outlook

GM Tom Fitzgerald has added Martin Brodeur, Scott Clemmensen, and Sergei Brylin to the organization in management/coaching roles since taking over for Ray Shero. It feels more like Fitzgerald is looking to add the likes of more former New Jersey Devils that have the pulse of the team. Not only is it being familiar with how to improve the overall product on and off the ice, but it gives fans a trust because these players already delivered.

The power play has seen some success since the Devils moved on from Mark Recchi, and Andrew Brunette did thread the needle better but it was not quite enough for an up-and-coming Devils team to push through to the third round. Fitzgerald has a vision of how to make the product better. It is only a matter of who makes the best fit near and longer term for a Devils squad to keep on flourishing in special moments on offense. The Devils went from 25th worst overall in power play ranking to 13th since moving on Andrew Brunette. It will certainly sting, but the Devils are looking to make bigger strides in adding someone to grow that offensive production further.