New Jersey fell at the second-round hurdle of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, losing 4-1 to Carolina, but with Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier up front and an excellent defense corps in their prime, the Devils look like contenders next season and beyond.
- Let's go, Devils!
Let's go, Devils!
- If you're a New Jersey Devils fan right now, this is not a good moment. Your team has lost in five games to the Carolina Hurricanes after an 112-point regular season, a season where they added the big fish, Timo Meier, at the trade deadline, and they thought that might put them over the top. So this is tough.
The Hurricanes were a better team. They outscored the Devils 24 to 13 and five games. A couple of them were just not competitive.
Here's the good news. There's almost no team in the entire NHL that is better suited to have success in the next few years than the Devils. When you're talking about competitive teams in the NHL, you're normally dealing with one of two things.
A, you've got a locked-in core. You have stability. You know what you're going to get. There's a level of production that you can expect, and having that, it's easy to kind of build around the edges of a roster, potentially, and try and take it to the next level.
Or you could be in a situation where you have quite a lot of cap room. And as a result, you know that you can make significant upgrades to your team in the offseason. And even if that team isn't quite there yet, there's room to bring significant pieces in.
The New Jersey Devils are in a rare situation where both of these things are true. Their core, Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, that group of centers, and both first line-caliber centers who they signed to contracts before they broke out, they cost just over $50 million. So you can build a great forward group around those.
Then on defense, they've got some guys locked in. They've got Dougie Hamilton, Jonas Seigenthaler, John Marino, all these guys through 2026-2027 at least.
But then you've got this duo of youngsters. You've got Luke Hughes. He showed incredibly well in five NHL games. Obviously, a small sample, but he looked very, very good very early. This is a fourth overall pick.
And then you've got Simon Nemec, who was very strong at the AHL level and might be ready next year to take that step forward. He's a second overall pick, very high end, blue chip-level talent, two guys. Like, most teams do not have a defender that can count on to be top four coming through the system. The Devils have two.
You could talk about their goaltending situation being a little bit shaky. It certainly was in the playoffs. Vitek Vanecek has been an average NHL goalie for most of his time as a starter. And Akira Schmid, he's a wild card. He's played 33 games at the NHL level.
So that is an area where maybe this team does not have the level of certainty and security going forward as it does with their defensemen and especially with those two centers. But if you are a New Jersey Devils fan right now, it is a good time to be supporting this team, even if it doesn't feel like it in this moment.