Report: New Jersey Devils In Line For Next International Game

A report says the New Jersey Devils will take on the Buffalo Sabres in Europe to kick off the 2024-25 season.

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IHOCKEY-NHL-EDMONTON-NEW-JERSEY / BJORN LARSSON ROSVALL/GettyImages
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Six years ago, the New Jersey Devils went to Sweden to showcase NHL talent to the rest of the world. The Devils beat Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers 5-2. It was nice to see the Devils get their first taste of international play, as the team was filled with European, especially Swedish, players at the time. Jesper Bratt was the young gun, Marcus Johansson was a Swedish sniper looking to get a healthy season under his belt, Sami Vatanen was from just down the country in Finland, and Nico Hischier was the team's future star who got to visit Bern, Switzerland (his home country) in a preseason game before this one.

Now, it appears the Devils are heading back over the Atlantic Ocean for games that count. David Pagnotta of the Fourth Period says the Devils will kick off next season taking on the Buffalo Sabres in Prague, Czechia.

The NHL has a long history of playing in this area. The NHL first played in what was then known as Czechoslovakia in 1989 when the Calgary Flames played a team of countrymen in September. They last played in Czechia in 2022 when the San Jose Sharks played a two-game series against the Nashville Predators. In 2019, the Flyers and Blackhawks played in Prague at the O2 Arena.

This is currently the home of HC Sparta Prague. If that team sounds familiar, one of its players is Devils prospect Petr Hauser. The 20-year-old right winger has played 30 games there this year, but he's struggled offensively with no goals and just seven assists. He's played much better in Czechia2, the Czech minor leagues.

We assume the Devils and Sabres will split home games here, so expect the Devils to have just 40 games in New Jersey next season. It's still worth it to lose that game to get these players on an international spotlight.

The Devils also have two players from Czechia Tomas Nosek and Ondrej Palat. Palat will almost definitely be the star of the show, but Nosek might not be on the roster as he's a free agent at the end of the season. Either way, it's clear the crowd will be cheering on Palat, who is one of the most popular players from that country in the league today. Vitek Vanecek is also from Czechia, and he's still the Devils starting goalie as of this writing. Young phenom defenseman Simon Nemec is from nearby Slovakia and will absolutely have plenty of support to start next season.

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