New Jersey Devils Defense Can Spark Offense in 2023-24

Simon Nemec #17 of New Jersey Devils shoots the puck in during the first period against the New York Islanders at UBS Arena on October 06, 2023 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Simon Nemec #17 of New Jersey Devils shoots the puck in during the first period against the New York Islanders at UBS Arena on October 06, 2023 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

After the New Jersey Devils topped the New York Islanders 3-0 at UBS Arena on Friday night, it secured an undefeated preseason. There has been a bit more of a trend of young defensemen looking to add some firepower. With a guy like Kevin Bahl already on the roster, he further solidified his role after a fantastic preseason. Slovak defender Simon Nemec has shown in camp he’s trying to steal that last right-sided spot from veteran Colin Miller, who has been rather shaky in camp.

Transitioning To Younger Offensive Defensemen

The New Jersey Devils got plenty of offense from the defense, led by Dougie Hamilton, Damon Severson, and Ryan Graves. Looking into a potential offensive defense corps with Dougie Hamilton, Luke Hughes, and now Simon Nemec, this is legitimately three pillars of Devils offense.

On the other side of the puck, you have Kevin Bahl proving he can skate and pass, creating quality assists. Meanwhile, in the past game at UBS Arena, the Sasquatch-minded defender had ripped the second goal home to give Akira Schmid a comfy lead.

As the New Jersey Devils are getting younger, faster, and slicker on defense, this is gonna make it harder for teams to hold a quick transition on the breakouts via their defensive zone. Luke Hughes would bring a lot of explosive rush attempts and could dazzle his way into scoring chances. His style of puck rushing, passing on the power play, and in other areas with a defender like John Marino setting him up and getting more shots on net under Travis Greene’s offense.

Dougie Hamilton doesn’t need much of an explanation due to the Norris Trophy-caliber of player he already is in New Jersey. Hamilton can simply play with Kevin Bahl and enjoy another guy with a very long reach. If he decides not to bomb one home, the possibility of Bahl beginning to use his shot more frequently will increase the odds of offense.

Simon Nemec Needs To Play In The NHL

As an amateur hockey scout, a lot of people say “but he’s not ready yet getting beat.” Well, there is something to be said here. Every player learns differently, just like kids do at school, but guys like Simon Nemec are very quick to adapt as defenders. Nemec has proved that when he plays an above-average defensive game, he always shows he can get his team a point or a few.

Every phenomenal defenseman has gotten beaten a few times, but guys like Nemec will lean on those as lessons when not to pinch or when not to pass. The game is much faster at the NHL level versus in the AHL, and the former second-overall pick is quick-thinking with a calm mindset, and that really cuts down on mishaps. Even if Nemec starts on the third pairing, he’s gonna be playing with guys that are top-two defensemen caliber teammates.

Nemec scored two goals in the preseason. One of them was a neutral zone to an offensive-zone rush. He won a board battle, freed up the puck, and skated it in for a shorthanded goal. When the New Jersey Devils do go on the penalty kill, and Nemec is out there, he has the ability to counterattack into a scoring drive. It is better for certain players to get that scent of regular season hockey and see how they do between 5-9 games and where their progress ends up. It does not hurt to let a young man go out and put on his best effort in front of the best talent the hockey world offers.

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Overall Offensively

The New Jersey Devils are looking to further diversify and strengthen their depth on offense on their backend. When the Devils do go toe-to-toe with the Carolinas and Torontos in this league. Teams that go deep in the playoffs have to rely more on their blueline, both offensively and defensively. It’s gonna be a true testament when the Devils eventually make it out of the second round and make a potential Stanley Cup run.