New Jersey Devils End of the Season Report Cards: Defensemen & Goalies

The New Jersey Devils missed the playoffs and finished the season with a 38-39-5 record. Let's check in and grade the Devils defense and goalies after a disappointing season.
2024 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series - Philadelphia Flyers v New Jersey Devils
2024 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series - Philadelphia Flyers v New Jersey Devils / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Simon Nemec (GP 60 - 3G - 16A - 19P)

From one rookie to another, Simon Nemec's surprise rookie season showed why he was worthy of the second-overall pick. Had it not been for Dougie Hamilton's injury, Nemec likely wouldn't have made his NHL debut until much later in the season, but he played about as much of a pro-style game as a 19-year-old could. Nemec displayed a ton of craftiness rushing the puck up the ice and was good at moving the puck. His offensive game isn't at the level of Luke Hughes's, but there were enough flashes to see his path to 40+ point seasons when he's in his prime.

Nemec's defense is as good as it was surprising. His time playing pro hockey overseas and his year in the AHL have put him ahead of schedule when it comes to his in-zone defending, as well as his gap control when defending the rush. Like all rookies, he had his flaws, but it's positive to see the two pillars of the Devils defense playing big roles at such a young age.

Grade: B+

John Marino (GP 75 - 4G - 21A - 25P)

John Marino had an unreal 2022-23 season. His 2023-24 season, not so much. He did miss some time with injury, but even at full health, Marino was far from the player he was last year. He inexplicably decided not to battle in front of the net, often letting his man get inside positioning to tip in pucks or score off rebounds. What also made Marino so great last year was his ability to recover when he, or a teammate made a mistake, This season Marino looked uninterested at times making those same effort plays. He lacked the dominance he had last season and regressed into just a very average defenseman. With the return of Hamilton and the emergence of Nemec, Marino may find himself playing bottom-pair minutes next season.

Grade: C+