The New Jersey Devils didn’t make many moves this offseason. To be honest, they lost a lot more than they gained on paper. Miles Wood, Ryan Graves, Damon Severson, Tomas Tatar, Jesper Boqvist, and others went into the offseason and found new homes elsewhere through free agency. The Devils also found new homes for Mackenzie Blackwood, Reilly Walsh, and Yegor Sharangovich through trades. It was the latter of those names that will go down as the most interesting loss for the Devils.
Sharangovich is doing fine for the Calgary Flames. He has two points over nine games and has been mostly a fourth-liner. The player the Devils got in return for SharGo is Tyler Toffoli (along with sending the Flames the third-round pick they got for trading Severson’s negotiating rights). From the get go, it seemed like a smart move by Tom Fitzgerald. We were not aware just how great the move would end up being.
Toffoli has seven goals and three assists through his first eight games with the Devils. That’s phenomenal. Only six players in the NHL have more goals than Toffoli. He’s been a catalyst to Jack Hughes’s amazing start. He’s able to deliver on Jack Hughes’s amazing playmaking ability. The Devils have had trouble finding the right pieces to do that.
Now, the Devils have a legit scorer to play on that first line. Hughes and Toffoli have played 94 minutes together at 5v5. They have a 60+ percent share on chances and high-danger chances while the two are on the ice. While the goals haven’t come (they’ve been outscored eight to six with the two on the ice), the numbers show they will come even faster than they have already.
The power play has been the reason the Devils win games. Toffoli and Hughes both have three goals with the man advantage. Only Chris Kreider has more. The Devils power play has been buzzing, leading the league with a 42% score rate. The Rangers are second at 34%. This power play is the polar opposite of what it was last season.
Toffoli is a major reason for that. Along with Travis Green, Toffoli is the biggest addition to the man advantage. Having a pure scorer like that on a line with Hughes, sometimes Bratt, sometimes Nico Hischier, and Luke Hughes allows him to just stand in position and pot in goals.
Tom Fitzgerald has dozens of moves under his belt at this point since taking over as general manager of the Devils. This might be one of his best, at least when it comes to a veteran addition. It’s very early, but the dividends are paying off quickly and earnestly.