With the NHL Draft now over and the free agent season already in session, Devils general manager Ray Shero has been very productive thus far. By productive, Ray drafted a long-term elite center in Jack Hughes who is a franchise center talent. On top of Jack Hughes being added, Ray traded for P.K. Subban, sending Steven Santini to the Nashville Predators.
The trade involving Subban was for three years, $27 million total US dollars, meanwhile, sending Steven Santini and Jeremy Davies (both defenders) to Tennessee along with two second-round picks (34th overall from New Jersey, then traded from Nashville to Philadelphia for Bobby Brink). Then last week on Canada Day, Shero signed right wing veteran Wayne Simmonds, another unrestricted free agent on the free agent market. Simmonds signed a one-year, $5 million contract after coming off of a rather down season.
This move by Ray Shero is adding more depth in skill, talent, physicality and veteran leadership under John Hynes. P.K. Subban is a defender who can bring the energy every day and is a threat in all facets of the game. Wayne is the type of guy who can connect with Subban on and off the ice after both being Predators teammates. Subban and Simmonds are all good buds of Taylor Hall. This kind of chemistry will be crucial both on and off the ice.
However I don’t see Ray Shero hanging down on the boardwalk in New Jersey just yet. I still feel he’s gonna add a left winger to bolster the top six forward lines. A guy like Tomas Tatar can bring some offence and big game experience. Ray Shero last summer didn’t get much done, but I see another trade coming, but only time will tell.
Bratt- Hughes- Jesper Boqvist
Wood- Zajac- Simmonds
The first line with a healthy Taylor Hall with Hischier/Hughes and Palmieri is every goaltenders nightmare. You have two players with lots of speed, agility and three with scoring touch. That first line is going to rip the puck on net more often than in the past two seasons.
The second line is the speed, skill, agility, sniper line. Jesper Bratt, Jack Hughes and Boqvist are all threats being smaller forwards that can slip through the cracks with a lot of shiftiness and can be a house of horrors for opposing teams. The Wood, Zajac and Simmonds line is the speed, skill, physicality, meat and potatoes scoring line that will break down opposing defence. The BZA line is a super nitty gritty, smart, physical, bulldozer line that can make it easier to score for the Devils 1-3 lines.
What I have noticed when the Devils added guys like Simmonds up front is that it takes a lot of pressure off Jack Hughes and an enforcer in John Hayden too. This then positions Hayden to be a protector of Jack Hughes in these rivalries. Shero knows that it was important to counter attack the Rangers and other eastern teams with these guys.
A guy like Subban with Vatanen and Severson as right defenders brings an offensive edge now that you have Greene, Ty Smith and Will Butcher (no particular order) with those lefty defenders as well.
The Devils will have better puck movers that can create a lethal power play that can gain big points in the standings. But if I’m Ray Shero now, I want to keep adding another quality left winger and another defender to the mix as well.