You’re studying the most recent document in THN.com’s proceeding “Three Burning Questions” collection. In this selection, we ask 3 main questions for each and every NHL staff ahead of the beginning of the 2022-23 common season. We’re posing Three Burning Questions concerning the New Jersey Devils on this document.
THREE BURNING QUESTIONS FOR THE DEVILS IN 2022-23:
1. Who’s the beginning goaltender for this Devils staff? For years, Mackenzie Blackwood has been situated by way of the Devils as their goalie of the longer term. But he’s 25 now – seven years older than he was once when New Jersey drafted him forty second general – and the street to good fortune has no longer been linear. After a career-high 47 video games performed in 2019-20, accidents and the COVID-19 virus have bit into Blackwood’s NHL time increasingly in every of the 2 next seasons, to the purpose he gave the impression in handiest 25 video games in 2021-22.
Consequently, Devils GM went out this summer season and bought a brand new goaltender – former Washington Capitals netminder Vitek Vanicek – who will problem Blackwood for enjoying time this season. Veteran journeyman Jonathan Bernier could also be nonetheless round, so the contest for mins might be fierce. If it’s no longer, and Devils head trainer Lindy Ruff simply helps to keep a goalie carousel going, New Jersey’s playoff possibilities within the extremely aggressive Metropolitan Division are going to slender considerably. It doesn’t topic who offers them an opportunity to win, it simply needs to be one of the vital 3.
2. Did Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald spend New Jersey’s wage cap area correctly? The Devils had a great deal of cap flexibility heading into the low season, however Fitzgerald moved briefly to spend nearly it all on an infusion of revel in, together with Vanicek (signed at $3.4 million for the following 3 seasons), defenseman John Marino (below contract for the following 5 years at $4.4 million), and forwards Ondrej Palat (signed for 5 years at $6 million consistent with season) and Erik Haula (signed for 365 days at $2.375 million). That has significantly advanced New Jersey’s intensity, however is it sufficient to propel the Devils into the playoffs?
Remember, it isn’t simply that it’s important to make stronger as a staff to get to the post-season, your divisional fighters additionally must fall off to a notable stage. In the Metro, that suggests one of the vital Pittsburgh Penguins and Capitals has to fall apart below the drive, and likewise that department competitors on Long Island and in Columbus must take smaller steps ahead. Many issues have to head nearly completely for the Devils to seize one of the vital wild card berths within the Eastern Conference, let by myself a best spot within the Metro. But possession and their long-suffering fan base are aching to look playoff hockey as soon as once more. It would possibly neatly come all the way down to the general couple weeks of the common season for New Jersey to make that ultimate push, however they do have the horses to problem many Metro groups now, and in the event that they’re no longer competing for a kind of ultimate playoff spots, one thing severe has long past awry within the Garden State.
3. How lengthy will Devils trainer Lindy Ruff live on if issues move off the rails? Not lengthy, we’d recommend. Ruff is getting into his 3rd season at the back of New Jersey’s bench. Still, there’s a explanation why Fitzgerald employed former Florida meantime head trainer Andrew Brunette to function an assistant to Ruff this yr. If the Devils stumble out of the gate, or undergo any prolonged hunch as a bunch, Brunette is true there to take over for Ruff.
He’s a tough head trainer who has earned the glory of maximum league observers, however Ruff additionally doesn’t have a Stanley Cup win below his belt to present him the cachet he’d want to live on a foul stretch with the Devils. As we noticed this summer season, the NHL head training business has a better turnover charge than ever, and Ruff is also the primary sufferer of the training carousel as soon as the season is underway. If he wins, he sticks round. If no longer, input Brunette, and a brand new technology for Devils training.