The hangover from the NHL Entry Draft is still going strong among the Devils fan base. With all signs pointing to Jack Hughes as the first overall pick for New Jersey, there’s been a lot of celebrating and social media posts about the Devils making the playoffs next year.
Devils fans will most likely disown me for this, a healthy Taylor Hall will not have another season like he did when he won the Hart Trophy. If the Devils draft Hughes and don’t find him some help during free agency period, the Devils WILL NOT make the playoffs. **Mic Drop**
The New Jersey Devils organization has a lot of money available this off-season. I still believe signing Taylor Hall to an extension is top of the priority list. Let’s make it reasonable though, he’s a great asset to our team but let’s look at the injuries also. He has a hard time staying healthy, they need to take that into consideration. I trust Ray Shero to do the right thing and that’s really all I have to say on the Hall end of things.
In addition to Hall, there is a good amount of talent hitting free agency this year. Erik Karlsson, Wayne Simmonds, Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Jeff Skinner, Jordan Eberle just to name a few. Obviously, some of these players may resign with their current teams. Shero’s biggest task during free agency will be trying to convince these players New Jersey is a good place to play and has a vision for the future. The talent is coming up between Ty Smith, Jeremy Davies, and Mackenzie Blackwood. I’ve also had my eye on Jesper Boqvist and Fabian Zetterlund making an impact in the off-season and maybe getting a shot.
Assuming the Devils leave the top line as Hall-Hischier-Palmieri that could potentially make the second line centered by Hughes if drafted and Bratt playing on either side of him. So who could the Devils grab in free agency to fill that missing spot on the second line? Obviously, everyone has eyes on Artemi Panarin but I don’t even see that being possible for the Devils. I wouldn’t rule out a winger like Jeff Skinner, maybe right-winger Jordan Eberle? What about Gustav Nyquist? A name you don’t hear too much when people talk about guys to sign, but he could pose as a solid winger for the Devils. Maybe you don’t play him on the 2nd line but could be additional help and may not cost too much.
At the end of the day, we can talk about different scenarios and not get any of them right. Opinions are opinions and everyone is entitled to what they want to say. The point of my article is just to open up the minds that although Jack Hughes or even Kaapo Kakko will be a huge boost to our offense they’re one piece to a missing puzzle that has a bit left to complete.
Putting a team together takes time, with that being said I’ll leave off with one of my favorite quotes from Coach Herb Brooks. ” I’m not looking for the best players Craig, I’m looking for the right ones”