New Jersey Devils: Mid-season Reviews

The New Jersey Devils season has not gone as planned. How do the players grade out individually?

Jan 19, 2024; Columbus, Ohio, USA; New Jersey Devils defenseman John Marino (6) celebrates his goal
Jan 19, 2024; Columbus, Ohio, USA; New Jersey Devils defenseman John Marino (6) celebrates his goal / Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
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Luke Hughes
GP: 43 G: 8 A: 16 PTS: 24
Mid Season Rating: A

Luke Hughes is built like what seems like all of the modern young NHL defenders and moves the puck super well, has a high IQ, and makes some risky plays. He is a treat to watch on a nightly basis and he is putting up the points while playing like a much older player most nights. That being said, he, much like his brother, does try to do too much at times and has had some very bad game-killing turnover that should mostly be fixed with experience. As of right now, though, he is the best defenseman on this team by a pretty big margin, and it is crazy to think he will still improve.

John Marino
GP: 43 G: 3 A: 12 PTS: 15
Mid Season Rating: B-

John Marino was one of the harder ones to rate, and while he has been doing better as the season moves on, he isn't quite the guy he was last season. The defensive plays are not perfect anymore, and he has some lapses in letting guys go out front, and that shouldn't happen. That being said, he has been the best guy defensively. The team just needs a little more out of him with how bad goaltending is and how young the other defenders are.

Jonas Siegenthaler
GP: 38 G: 1 A: 7 PTS: 8
Mid Season Rating: C-

Jonas Siegenthaler also took a step back this season, and it never really improved in the middle quarter. He has looked borderline lost at times, provides no offense, and has just been a different player than the one who could be relied upon for 20 minutes a night. Being less reliable than two rookies is not a good sign and hopefully he can figure it out.

Simon Nemec
GP:22 G:2 A:8 PTS:10
Mid Season Rating: A

Simon Nemec has been a breath of fresh air on this defense, and while he is all there on his own end, you can see the tools and skills there. Being a defender who can put up points and get things moving for the forwards is a great thing. As he continues to grow just like Luke Hughes, this team's defense could be scary.

Brendan Smith
GP: 34 G: 1 A: 4 PTS: 5
Mid Season Rating: C-

Brendan Smith is a mediocre number 6/7 defender and a pretty good fourth-line forward, which bumped this up a bit, but seeing him play virtually every game was ridiculous when they had the option. He is not the most responsible defender; he doesn't put up points and takes some bad penalties.

Colin Miller
GP:24 G:2 A:3 PTS:5
Mid Season Rating: A+

For a guy who has only played half the games, Colin Miller should have been in the lineup for a lot more. He did miss a large portion of the season with a preseason injury, but still. He leads the team at +11, and anytime he is with a younger guy, he is covering for them defensively, and they are able to play their own game better. I have loved what he has done so far and think he has more than earned his spot on the roster for the rest of the season.

Kevin Bahl
GP: 43 G: 0 A: 6 PTS: 6
Mid Season Rating: A+

Kevin Bahl is steadily improving on the back end. He is becoming a physical force, and I love that when a scrum or a guy is going after one of our skilled guys if he is on the ice, he is there to help. With his reach and stick movement, as he matures into a veteran with 300+ games, he could quietly be the shutdown guy on this team.

Vitek Vanecek
Record: 15-7-2 GAA: 3.22 Sv% 88.5
Mid Season Rating:F

Akira Schmid
Record: 5-7-1 GAA: 3.26 Sv% 89.3
Mid Season Rating: D

The Devils have one of the worst goaltenders in the league, no matter who plays, and the worst duo by far. While Vitek Vanecek seems like the nicest guy off the ice, they need to sit him so he can figure it out, or his career here might be short, while Akira Schmid needs to get some good games in the AHL, which it looks like he might be doing finally. They are sitting at 52nd and 46th of 58 goalies in the entire league for save percentage, and the conversation stops there. Stop pucks, or the team won't win games.

Nico Daws
Record 3-3-0 GAA: 2.71 Sv% 91.6
Mid Season Rating:A+

Nico Daws has not had a lot of game time this season, but the numbers speak for themselves. He should be given his shot to play starter for a few weeks at a minimum, and when he is at 15-20 games, the team can decide if they roll with this or make a deal. When he is in net high danger, chances are not auto goals, and when the defense has their breakdowns, he can bail them out. This is a guy who, in six games, has shown the potential to carry them to the playoffs and through the hard injury troubles.

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