Tom Fitzgerald Must Acquire Physical Players In Push For Playoffs

It was announced that GM Tom Fitzgerald has been promoted to President of Hockey Operations in a big day for New Jersey. Additionally, he has been extended a multi-year deal to continue as NJ Devils General Manager. With this new title, Mr. Fitzgerald should be looking at players who can bring a certain sense of physicality to New Jersey.

San Jose Sharks v New Jersey Devils
San Jose Sharks v New Jersey Devils / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Tom Fitzgerald has been promoted, along with receiving a brand new multi-year deal. It was announced by the New Jersey Devils today. Along with his GM role, he will now take on the role of President of Hockey Operations. He will have more responsibilities in running the day-to-day operations, including communicating with the heads of Amateur Scouting and Pro Scouting, managing the salary cap, and mitigating risks. He will also have to decide which coaches are the best fit for the club in the near and long term.

His promotion gives him stability, and that could lead to a deal in the near future. The Devils need more physicality and strength on the team. According to Elite Prospects, the Devils are the 7th youngest team in the NHL, with an average age of 26.41. When it comes to NHL experience, they are still 21st in the league.

Therefore, the team must take action to address these issues and improve their performance on the ice. Fitzgerald has been given an extension and promotion under the ownership of Joshua Harris and David Blitzer. However, the team still needs improvement in certain areas, which makes the NHL Trade Deadline an important event.

Many young defensemen were on the blue line in the recent game against the Vegas Golden Knights. While young and inexperienced players need to get on the ice and learn from their mistakes, the team's position as the 10th lightest team in the NHL (with an average weight of 197 lb) and the 13th tallest team suggests a need for more physical presence.

William Carrier, Radko Gudas
2023 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Two / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

We've been advocating not only for size but physicality and a killer instinct. However, this is the time for Tom Fitzgerald to flex his managerial muscle and add a veteran on the blue line. The current gap left by Jonas Siegenthaler, who is out with a broken foot, is a glaring hole where physicality and aggressiveness need to meet up. Players like Radko Gudas and Ilya Lyubushkin on an NHL Draft Lottery team should be targets for New Jersey. The Devils are within striking distance of a playoff spot. Adding any of those Sasquatch, playoff-built veterans would do a lot of good in getting this team a bit older, stronger, bulkier, and more assertive to play against.

Adding these right-handed defenders to the Devil's roster will bring much experience in helping the younger defenders learn to play soundly, structurally, and properly physically. Teams playing the Devils with these kinds of defenders will think twice now before getting too comfortable with the puck and looking to gain the high-danger zone highway to scoring. One of the aspects that adding a Sasquatch defenseman to a roster will help box out opponents and allow the goalie to see those blind spots where a tip-in goal or rebounds could go back in your net.

When talking about physical and more effective defensive hockey, coach Ryan McGill is failing to improve the takeaway vs. giveaway stat line with Luke Hughes, Jack Hughes, and Jonas Siegenthaler this season. If you look at Jack Hughes' numbers, he is a high-risk, high-reward forward, and on the contrary, needs to work better with the 34 TK (takeaways) to 38 GA (giveaways), and at times this season, those have cost the Devils those crucial two points. Coach McGill also needs to do a better job with Jack's brother Luke Hughes who has a 17 takeaways against 33 giveaways.

Kevin Bahl
Montreal Canadiens v New Jersey Devils / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Jonas Siegenthaler has been atrocious with his puck distribution because he has been counted for seven takeaways and 25 Giveaways this season. A player who has stepped up in his presence and has a far better puck-possession ratio is Kevin Bahl. The Sasquatch Southpaw has nine takeaways to 12 Giveaways this season and could be a near and long-term solution to being a true centerpiece on the Devils' defense for many seasons. Bahl has 81 hits and 53 blocked shots this season and has shown consistency from last season when he played a true tough NHL defenseman role. The defense is a work in progress. A lot of young guys like Simon Nemec, Luke Hughes, and Santeri Hatakka are doing their best to lift this unit.

On the other hand, Bahl has stepped up with a much better puck-possession ratio of 12 giveaways to 9 takeaways. Bahl seems to be a promising long-term solution to the Devils' defense, consistently playing a tough role. While the defense is still a work in progress, players like Simon Nemec, Luke Hughes, and Santeri Hatakka are getting more repetitions under their belt. GM Tom Fitzgerald is looking to strengthen the defense, especially with the All-Star Break coming up, giving him and his team a better chance to make a few moves. Getting more repetitions under their belt is crucial and it is part of the learning curve. GM, Tom Fitzgerald is looking to bolster the defense, especially now that there is a bit of an All-Star Break coming right up, giving him and his team a better feel before making a few moves.

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