Twas the eve of the New Jersey Devils season and home opener upon us with excitement and positive thoughts. It wasn’t long ago back midway through the 2018-2019 season that majority of that team was ruined with injuries and lacked both skill and depth as well. However, since Connor Carrick scored that important winning goal against the rival New York Rangers at the Prudential Center, that became the goal to win Jack Hughes in the NHL Draft Lottery.
Once that card got flipped to the New Jersey logo, everything had changed from misfortunes to a future of hope. Between the NHL Draft Lottery and the annual NHL Entry Draft, the New Jersey Devils official social media team had a blast drumming up the excitement. Once Ray Shero got up to the podium, he teased the hockey universe and switched it to Martin Brodeur summoning Jack Hughes to receive his jersey.
However, Jack Hughes wasn’t the only move made. During the middle to end of day one of the NHL Draft, word about P.K. Subban, the prime defender from Nashville, was being mentioned. The next mid-morning around 12:00pm on day two of the draft, P.K. Subban was traded to New Jersey in exchange for $9 million to Nashville with Steven Santini, Jeremy Davies and the 34th overall pick.
During this time, John Quenneville was traded from New Jersey to Chicago for John Hayden. Hayden is going to be adding a physical presence and a body guard type role that will watch out for his teammates.
During free agency, Ray Shero signed right-winger Wayne Simmonds out of Nashville for a make or break one-year deal worth a total salary of $5 million. So the Devils addressed a need on the right-handed defensive depth chart. Over time, Las Vegas needed help with getting below the organization’s salary cap.
That led to left-winger Nikita Gusev being dealt to the New Jersey Devils from the Vegas Golden Knights. Gusev, during that time, was finished playing in the KHL. Ray Shero knew the troubles of Vegas and Coach Hynes knew how great Gusev was for Team Russia.
With the Devils trading for Gusev and signing him to a two-year, $9 million contract, this adds a prime time sniper in their top six group of forwards. This kind of addition further helps build chemistry with Jack Hughes that can be very lethal.
Having Ty Smith sent back down to the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL will allow the Devils to further assess their star-studded group of left-handed defenders. They are currently Andy Greene, Will Butcher and Swiss defensemen Mirco Mueller. The one left-handed defender sitting in the AHL is Colton White who had a pretty good camp and seems like a nice call up later on in the season.
After such a productive offseason and opening night now upon us on Thursday, Devils team beat writer Amanda Stein writes, “Jesper Boqvist will move in with Jesper Bratt this week. Bratt joked that he’s kicking Pavel Zacha out of his apartment to make room for Boqvist. But truth is, Zacha is just moving into his own place.”
Since we touched on young rookies and making an impact, it’s a guy like Jesper Boqvist that can add natural talent, skill and excitement along with the Swedish connection with an established player like Jesper Bratt who has already played a few seasons in the NHL. So team chemistry should help this team going into opening night and forward this season.
The rest of this team relies on the competitive edge and the dependence on Mackenzie Blackwood and Cory Schneider to win games in net.