Andrew Brunette Is Not What's Missing From New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils let assistant coach Andrew Brunette leave to become the head coach of the Nashville Predators. His absences is not the reason the Devils dropped in the standings.

New Jersey Devils v Montreal Canadiens
New Jersey Devils v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

One of the biggest signings of the 2022 NHL Offseason for the New Jersey Devils played exactly zero minutes. He didn't score a goal or stop a shot. However, he put together an offensive system that got the best out of Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Dawson Mercer, and Jesper Bratt all enjoyed career years thanks to new tweaks to Lindy Ruff's offensive system.

Andrew Brunette came in after he was surprisingly let go by the Florida Panthers. The Devils announced Brunette's deal in July 2022. It was immediately celebrated as the perfect move for this young group. Many were surprised Brunette didn't go for a more established team, especially since he was joining the staff as an assistant coach. Brunette came into the locker room and immediately made an impact.

It was a formality he was going to get a head coaching job. He was a former Jack Adams Award finalist. The league knew he was going to be a good head coach. It's possible the Devils might be better off with Brunette as head coach, but the Devils as currently constructed are not missing what Brunette brought to the table.

With the Devils struggles, many are just trying to make easy connections between what was once a good team and what is now a mediocre team. The easy connection is the loss of Brunette and the addition of former Canucks head coach Travis Green. One would say that's why the Devils have been a below-average team this year.

However, the reason the Devils are struggling has nothing to do with Brunette's impact on the Devils. Brunette was an offensive-first head coach. He was in charge of the Devils power play and had a big say on the offense. Yet, that's not nearly the Devils problem this season. The Devils can't keep the puck out of the net, and they struggled because they can't outscore opponents when they give up four goals on most nights.

Green also has a much better power play than Brunette. Last season, the Devils scored on 16.67% of the power plays. This season, the Devils are third in the league at 30%. That's actually lower than they were earlier in the season when the unit was leading the league with north of a 40% conversion rate. Some of the fixes that Green made worked perfectly with the personnel.

The reason the Devils are struggling is its defense and goaltending. Brunette really had very little to do with those two units. If he is still in New Jersey, and Lindy Ruff is here too, the Devils are likely no better.

Brunette was a great coach, and we bet he does well in Nashville. Maybe the long-term play would have been to give Brunette the head coaching gig, but that will have to be revisionist history now. However, we know the reason the Devils are struggling this year were not the responsibility of Brunette last year.

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