Devil in the Details
Written by Jeff Ramella on November 26, 2019
By Evan Diaz
To say that this has been a disappointing season so far for the New Jersey Devils would be an understatement. As of the date, I am writing this they have the second least points in the entire NHL with a 7-9-4 record fresh off a 5-1 loss to the Boston Bruins in their last game. Ever since the miraculous 2012 Stanley Cup Final run, the Devils have made the playoffs only one time and this year the season is quickly turning for the worst. The questions that have to be asked now are, “How did it get to this point?” and “Where can the team go from here?”
General Manager Ray Shero made a statement in the 2019 NHL Draft that made clear how this team was going to compete for a playoff spot. With former league MVP Taylor Hall in his final year under contract, this was the time to make a move to keep their ace and repeat the magic of the 2017-2018 playoff push. Having their second first overall pick in three seasons and selecting Jack Hughes to be the future top-line center for years to come as a major move but acquiring former Norris Trophy winner PK Subban the next day to improve a weak spot in the defensive core cemented the Draft as a franchise-altering moment.
So how have we gotten here? The Devils have scored the least amount of goals in the entire NHL and are also in the top ten for allowing the most. Longtime starter Cory Schneider has been sent down to the AHL and second-year NHLer Mackenzie Blackwood has had a rough sophomore season. Taylor Hall only has 2 goals in 20 games. Head Coach John Hynes has to be sweating bullets from the scorching hot seat he is sitting on. While theoretically, it is not impossible for the Devils to make a playoff push (never forget the famous example of the Blues going from the worst team in the league to Stanley Cup champions in the same season), time is running out and fast on any playoff aspirations.
With all that being said, where do the Devils go from here? In my opinion, the best thing for the team would be to take advantage of the Hall interest while he is still on the team and make a trade. Taylor Hall wants to be on a contender, and the Devils have shown that there are still holes that need filling before they hit that point. John Hynes is also someone I would not expect to still be with the team by the end of the season. Sometimes a change in someone high up is necessary to make improvements and the coaching staff needs to be looked at when seemingly every aspect of the team is doing poorly. If esteemed head coaches like Mike Babcock and Joel Quenneville can be let go, John Hynes should not be immune. The reality is, this team is a long way from being a contender. Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes are great starting pieces, but there needs to be more work is done, such as finding the true heir to the goaltender position. Holding out to try and contend now may cause more harm than good at this point for the New Jersey Devils.