Reason 2: Letting Depth Play Into Their Role
The New Jersey Devils are incredibly injured right now. Even with Timo Meier returning, the Devils are waiting on Jack Hughes, Ondrej Palat, Tomas Nosek, Nolan Foote, Dougie Hamilton, and Jonas Siegenthaler to return to the lineup. That opens a lot of spots for players like Max Willman, Santeri Hatakka, Cal Foote, Chris Tierney, Curtis Lazar, and Alex Holtz.
Some of those players have really stepped up in the absence of half the lineup. Foote actually looked pretty good in his short time. Holtz has become a legitimate scorer despite the pushback from Head Coach Lindy Ruff. Even Max Willman has shown he can make an impact in the NHL. Meanwhile, Curtis Lazar has proven he should be in any lineup every night. These players might have found roles that should still be there when the lineup is finally healthy.
Maybe this was Fitzgerald's plan all along. Maybe it's better for the long term if more depth pieces become obvious. The Devils made depth signings a priority this season, adding the likes of Nosek, Chris Tierney, Cal Foote, and Shane Bowers this past offseason. The opportunity was there to give these guys NHL experience in games during less important NHL regular season games.
The Devils hope they make the playoffs. If they do, they hope these players aren't necessary. However, if they are, they want them to be ready.