New Jersey Devils: Michael McLeod is Evolving into an Elite Player

Michael McLeod has been an integral part of the New Jersey Devils roster. The center is moving into the next stratosphere of player.

Jan 3, 2024; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New Jersey Devils center Michael McLeod (20)
Jan 3, 2024; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New Jersey Devils center Michael McLeod (20) / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

While the New Jersey Devils' roster may be known for its main superstars, like Jack Hughes and Timo Meier, some incredible players are underrated. Players like Luke Hughes, Erik Haula, and Curtis Lazar fit that category. One player, however, is moving past underrated and more toward elite status. Michael McLeod has been with the Devils for four full seasons, and for the past three seasons, he's been an important part of this roster.

While McLeod may not be a top goal scorer or a player who will deke past you quickly, how he utilizes some aspects of the game makes it very special. The best part about McLeod is that he is a very good faceoff man. He's won 509 faceoffs, which is 15th in the league. However, the actual stat is his faceoff winning percentage is 66.4%, which is fifth in the league. Having McLeod in the faceoff circle has helped the Devils because winning faceoffs has been a struggle for them in the past few years. If the Devils make the playoffs this season, he can be a big part of their strategy to win games for them.

While McLeod isn't a top goal scorer, he can still score goals when the Devils need it. On Tuesday, when the Devils played the Capitals, he scored two goals in crucial moments. The first was a beautiful goal towards the end of the second period with 16 seconds to go when he did a spin-o-rama going five-hole past Capitals goalie Hunter Shepard. The second goal came when what seemed to be a foul play by Curtis Lazar found its way into an excellent rebound. Another example of this was game seven against the Rangers in game 7 of the playoffs last year, when, thanks to John Marino, he put in the rebound to put the Devils up 1-0.

It's getting to the point where McLeod is untouchable. The Devils can't afford for him to get hurt. It seems when someone on the Devils is playing well, they get hurt not so long after and are out long-term, and if that happens to McLeod, his presence will change the team dynamic.

The other big problem is the report of the Hockey Canada scandal, which reportedly names players who sexually assaulted a girl after the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships. Honestly, there's no tangible evidence McLeod had anything to do with it. He was just on the team. Unfortunately, until there is resolution to the issue, it may be something the Devils have to eventually address.

For now, the Devils will celebrate what McLeod brings to the table. He's helping them win.