What is the State of the New Jersey Devils from top to bottom?

The New Jersey Devils are in need of a turnaround after a brutal 2023-24 season. Tom Fitzgerald has plenty to accomplish between now and opening night. What he chooses to do will determine his and the team's fate.
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2. Coaching

After a patient search, GM Tom Fitzgerald finally pulled the trigger. Sheldon Keefe, the man behind the Toronto Maple Leafs bench for the last five seasons, will now be running things in the foreseeable future. It’s certainly an exciting time to be a Devils fan when thinking about this (potentially) new coaching staff. Where Keefe takes this Devils team is unknown. One thing is certain: where Tom Fitzgerald goes this off-season and who he brings in to help right this ship will determine how far Keefe goes. Not much else can be said. It’s time for Fitzgerald and management to work with a new face and a new voice. The sky’s the limit.

3. Personnel

Now, to those who play the game. Management can find the right players that align with their coach’s system. Coaches can make plans and run practices, all while implementing their system. In the end, however, the players must be the ones to execute those plans. They are the ones that must get it done. Two seasons ago, we saw what the group was capable of. It wasn't the same group this past season, with many names departing and new faces arriving. Injuries, poor goaltending and defense, and just plain ‘ole bad luck prevented this club from executing on a nightly basis. Management and coaching staff know all this. The players do, too. 

Jesper Bratt led this team in points last season and looked like a player who, amazingly, has not hit his ceiling yet. Timo Meier admirably battled through injuries to lead the team in goals with two shy of 30. Jack Hughes sat just behind him with 74 points while playing through injury and missing 20 games on top of that. Dougie Hamilton was on pace for just around 70 points on the season before succumbing to injury just 20 games in. 

Health (or a lack thereof) played a vital role in a down season. The reality is the defense was underwhelming, and the goaltending was abysmal. Youthfulness could not adequately replace the losses of Ryan Graves, Damon Severson, and Dougie Hamilton. The defense’s inability to break pucks out of the zone cost this team nightly. A returning Dougie Hamilton should help extinguish that problem. Trading for Jake Allen solidified a desperate goaltending room for a moment in time. However, for the New Jersey Devils to make the proper jump this season, a legitimate name is needed. Whether through free agency or trade, everyone in the building knows it’s a long time coming for a legitimate face in the goaltending room.

In the end, the same big names will be back. With luck, they’ll be on the ice consistently. Their production is not and will not be a question. We know what Hughes, Meier, Bratt, Hischier and Hamilton can do. It’s guaranteed they will do it again, but they need help. They needed a new voice, and they got one. They still need help, however. And help is on the way. Who it will be is not known. We’ll just have to wait and see. For now, the state of the New Jersey Devils can be described with one word. Anticipation.