A week removed from a three-game win streak, the Devils are losers in two of their last three games. More importantly, the Devils have lost nine players due to Covid. That list includes Jesper Bratt, Yegor Sharangovich, Damon Severson, Pavel Zacha, Nate Bastian, Mason Geertsen, Dougie Hamilton, Andreas Johnsson, and Janne Kuokkanen. Having been without a chunk of their roster for those three games, the Devils played as well as they could have hoped. Now, this Covid riddled group will have a chance to regroup and get players back following the postponement of Monday’s game against Tampa Bay. That being said, there isn’t much to dissect of the Devils’ recent play. There’s also no telling when their next game will be played, which allows me to finish my midseason report cards for all the players. A few weeks ago, I graded each forward on their play up to this point, now I’ll do the defensemen and goalies.

Dougie Hamilton: A

Prior to his injury, which may have knocked him out for the year, the prize of free agency was playing as advertised. Through 36 games, last year’s James Norris finalist has 20 points and is on pace to finish with 46 points, the second-most in his career. Thanks to his high-end offensive ability, Hamilton has taken over games more than a few times this season. Whether it’s getting pucks to the net or being able to always make the right read on defense, Hamilton does it all for the Devils.

Ryan Graves: B+

As for the other big acquisition in the offseason, Graves has been solid. In Colorado, he was a stay-at-home defenseman who liked putting pucks on net and was sheltered from top-tier talent. Here in New Jersey, his style of play is still the same, but his time on ice has gone up, and he faces the best players an opponent has to offer. He’s on pace to crack thirty points, a career-high, but if Hamilton is out for an extended period, don’t be surprised to see his point total and play drop.

Ty Smith: D-

The Devils rookie prodigy from last year has been a disaster this season. A sophomore slump for talented defensemen is expected. Look at Quinn Hughes from last year. However, for Smith, describing his play as a slump is generous. Whether it’s turning the puck over in key spots, making the wrong read on which guy to cover, or being unable to clear out the front of the net, he does it all consistently. I’m not saying his career isn’t going to pan out but throwing him into this lineup every day is killing his confidence and the Devils’ chance at winning. Give him a quick trip to Utica, let him regain his confidence and hockey sense, and then bring him back.

Jonas Siegenthaler: A

As for the other guy in his second season with the team, Siegenthaler has been a delight to watch. His playstyle is what the Devils D has needed for a long time, a strong defensive-minded defenseman. For a team that lacks physicality and preventing goals, he aids in both categories. No matter who he’s been paired with this year, he’s been mistake-free and allows for his partner to be a little more offensive. Devils management has butchered more than a few trades over the years that involved 2nd and 3rd round picks, but they seem to have nailed this one.

Damon Severson: B+

Yes, I’m the same guy who asked for the Devils to ship Severson out of town, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s been great for the Devils this year. Like many defensemen on bad teams, they feel obligated to carry the load and do too much. While we’ll see him make a bad turnover or leave someone wide open, his play is usually solid. There are some games you don’t know which Severson you’re going to get, the good one who makes outstanding breakout passes, or the bad one who scores own goals. 

P.K. Subban: B-

Too many Devils fans have yet to come to terms that P.K. is not the nine-million-dollar man he is getting paid to be. Yes, the man is a liability on defense a lot, but he still does many great things. He still makes breakout passes with ease, and when he isn’t breaking his stick on one-timers, he has one of the best shots. I understand his skating isn’t what it used to be, and him back on a 2 on 1 is a guaranteed goal, but for the role he’s in, he’s performed well in it. Furthermore, for a Devils team that lacks leaders, he brings a much-needed veteran presence to that locker room.

Mackenzie Blackwood: C-

Devils fans are still waiting for Blackwood to take that next step in his game, and up until this point, he’s regressed. The Devils’ workhorse goalie has been pretty abysmal, as he boasts a .898 save percentage. According to JFresh, he is the 2nd worst starting goalie for goals saved above expected, meaning he gives up a goal that shouldn’t have gone in every two games. Of course, it doesn’t help when for the second straight year, the backup goaltender is lost, forcing Blackwood to carry the load. But there have been more than a few games that have been lost because of his goaltending.

Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

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