Devil’s future rising back to life

Jared Miller, Sports Editor

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Following a magical run to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six seasons, the Devils’ faithful fans were hoping for the success to continue into this year. The team and fans were on cloud nine early on in the season as the Devils started the year undefeated in their first four games. But things took a turn for the worse as the rest of the Devils season was a struggle, leading the team to finish the season with the third worst record in the league.
Even though the season was not what people wanted, it is what should have been expected. The Devils’ team is in a rebuild and the success in the 2017-18 campaign was a fluke due to the help of MVP winner Taylor Hall.
Their were many reasons why the Devils struggled, injuries being one of the biggest issues as they plagued the team all season. For most of the season the Devils have been playing short handed due to the amount of injuries that they faced. Taylor Hall was key in the Devils run to the playoffs in 2017-18, but was limited this season missing 49 games hurting the Devils playoff hopes early on.
The silver lining from all of these injuries was the opportunity it gave for younger players to get experience in the NHL. Nine players made their NHL debut for the Devils this season, and six players tallied their first career goal this year.
Another positive that came from this season was the improvement to the Devils goaltending. In June 2013, the Devils made a trade for All-Star goalie Cory Schneider to replace Devils legend Martin Brodeur. With high expectations, Schneider showed a lot of promise to help bring New Jersey success for many years. But injuries in the 2017-18 and in the 2018-19 season led Schneider to struggle. Over those two seasons, Cory Schneider went 402 days without being able to record a single win. However, on February 15th 2019, Schneider pulled off a victory. After recording that first win in over a year, Schneider’s stats began to improve and there were moments during the season where it looked like he was almost back to his great form. Schneider is healthy again and, with an offseason to get back into All-Star form, the Devils could have the goalie back that they traded for in 2013.
Even with the season being somewhat disappointing for the players and the fans, after April 9th all the disappointment was washed away. April 9th was the day of the NHL draft lottery and the Devils had the third best odds to win the first overall draft pick, with a 11.5% chance. For the second time in the last three seasons the Devils struck gold and ended up with the first overall pick in the draft. In 2017, the Devils drafted a solid player in Nico Hischier who has done well in his first two seasons putting up 37 goals and 62 assists adding up to a total of 99 points in 151 career games. For the 2019 season there is a player by the name of Jack Hughes. Hughes has the ability to be a generational talent who has been breaking all sort of records, the best one being the most points in the World U18 league all time with 32 points passing many great scorers in the game during the Under 18 United States Development Program. To put it simply, Hughes is the talent the Devils need to improve.
This season of defeat could be a blessing in disguise for the Devils with a bright future ahead. With a big offseason coming up, just a few trades and free agent signings and next season should be a good one in New Jersey.

Above: Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier having some fun during pregame warmups.
Photo Courtesy: elitesportsny.com

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