With the recent re-signing of Connor Carrick of a two-year deal to avoid arbitration, the Devils now have a solid right-handed defence and so the right-handed defensemen corps now looks like P.K. Subban on the first pair, Damon Severson on the second pair and Sami Vatanen on the third pair. However, I do see a potential trade involving Sami Vatanen occurring. Someone will be willing to take on his contract for a short period of time, making way for Connor Carrick who is a bit younger and has more rounded game.
This, however, provides extra depth without trading Vatanen, but making the defence more competitive and skilled. The left-handed defence with Greene, Butcher and Ty Smith anchoring the left-handed defence is likely to occur since Mirco Müeller had a very bad season defensively.
If I had to compare this team to last year’s, this defence is more skilled, much younger, more experienced and far more lethal with depth in shooters and puck movers. On the offensive side, it’s time to focus on the forwards. With preseason among all hockey fans, it’s time to think a bit like John Hynes and general manager Ray Shero.
My forward depth now currently looks like this:
Taylor Hall- Nico Hischier- Kyle Palmieri
Jesper Bratt- Jack Hughes- Wayne Simmonds
Miles Wood- Travis Zajac- Blake Coleman
Mikhail Maltsev- Pavel Zacha- Nathan Bastian
Extra skater: John Hayden
The forward lines provide many things this season. They are speed, hockey IQ, hockey sense, scoring, dynamics, versatility, physicality, grit, soul, skill and talent.
The goaltending I feel is in a better position than it was last season. Cory Schneider, during the last part of the stretch, looked very solid when healthy and he also looked very good with a disappointing men’s team at the IIHF Worlds. If MacKenzie Blackwood proves he can play and win and Cory Schneider can remain healthy for a greater period of time in late-season play, this team can be very dangerous in a stacked Metropolitan Division.
My expectations are that eight to six seed with this roster is very likely and a trade by February favouring New Jersey can prove to be like seven to five seed. I do, however, like Gilles Senn in Binghamton because this adds insurance to Schneider and MacKenzie Blackwood for rest and injuries.